In 2017, Latvia received fewer requests for residence permits from people from the countries with the high number of terrorist groups or other terrorism-related risks, compared to 2016, according to the Security Police annual report for 2017, cites LETA.
The Security Police is part of the system of controlling the entry of foreigners and conducts checks of foreigners from the high terror risk countries. Compared with 2016, in 2017 there was a significant decrease in demand for visas and residence permits from these countries.
In 2017, the Security Police checked 1,142 visa invitations and applications for permanent residence permits in respect of a total of 2,115 persons. In addition, it also checked 2,235 visa applications and 660 residence permit applications by foreigners.
As a result of those checks, the Security Police in 172 cases recommended refusing visas, in five cases reducing the number of days permitted to stay, and in 37 cases granting approval subject to specific conditions. Of the checked applications for residence permits, in 27 cases it was recommended that the applications be rejected, and in 161 cases they were approved with other comments.
The foreigners checked by the Security Police fell into four main categories – tourists, students, employees and company managers. “Studying at Latvia’s universities was one of the main reasons why persons from countries with a heightened presence of terrorist groups travelled to Latvia. There is still a risk that radically inclined persons may enter Latvia by posing as students. Since this would allow such persons to also freely travel to other Schengen zone countries, carefully checking such persons is vital for the security of Latvia and Europe as a whole,” the Security Police said.
MP Janis Dombrava (National Alliance) in his article published in the Delfi.lv news portal today voiced concerns about the steep rise in the number of students from third countries in Latvia. He said that the number of students and exchange students from third countries in Latvia had increased fivefold since 2012 (from 696 to 3,397) and noted that many of those foreign students came from the high terror risk countries. He also implied that, for many of them, studies in Latvia was only a pretext for living and working in the EU.