EuropeIntel & Data

Latvia’s Golden Visa Struggles to Raise Capital Without Russians

After more than two years of reticence, Latvia’s Ministry of Interior recently provided updated statistics for its golden visa program covering 2021, 2022, and 2023. The figures reveal that the program’s application volume, which had appeared moribund after dropping 98% between 2014 and 2020, has now stabilized, albeit at a lower level than before the pandemic.

In its early history, Latvia’s golden visa – which first opened in 2010 and had the EU golden visa market practically to itself for the first three years – was Europe’s most popular, receiving thousands of applications a year.

Following a nadir of just 53 in 2020, approvals rose to 91 in 2021 and fell slightly to 79 in 2022. In the first half of 2023, the latest period for which data are available, the program saw only 17 approvals.

The declines in 2022 and 2023 are entirely attributable to the government's decision to ban Russians (and Belarusians), historically the lion's share of applicants, from participation. Excluding them should, all else being equal, drive a roughly 50% reduction in applications.

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The number of approvals for non-Russian applicants, however, has remained stable, with 31, 27, and 41 approvals in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively. The 17 non-Russian approvals in the first half of 2023, therefore, indicate the full-year application volume for that year will be in line with the norm for the last three years.

In the first half of last year, for the first time in nearly a decade, the EUR 250,000 real estate investment option was not applicants' top choice. Instead, the EUR 50,000 business investment option took the top spot.

Since 2020, Vietnamese applicants have been the program's second-biggest applicant group, accounting for about one in three non-Russian approvals. Since the exclusion of Russians in 2022, Vietnamese investors have been the program's single-biggest applicant group. Note that for the last three years, 29 of the 30 Vietnamese applicants have qualified under the business investment option.

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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