Latvia is comparatively small country in North-eastern Europe, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and is bound by Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. It is situated on a trade crossroads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia. Nearly one third of the 2.3 million people population live in Riga, the capital of the country. The landscape of the country is marked by lowland plains and rolling hills. It has an extensive network of rivers, thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches. The official language is Latvian. The most widely used foreign languages in the country are English, Russian and German.
Documents issued in foreign states must be legalized in order to get recognized by Latvian state institutions, inter alia, the Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
Detailed information on document legalization can be found at the homepage of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/service/consular-services/legalisation/#2
The complete list of reasons why the temporary residence permit may be denied can be found here:http://www.pmlp.gov.lv/en/pakalpojumi/residence/not_issued.html
In short, these are usually cases when the applicant has provided false information, has a criminal record, is “blacklisted” in Latvia or another country, has failed to submit all required documents, or there is something wrong with the submitted documents (e.g., the documents are not legalized, there is no credible proof that the applicant has sufficient means of subsistence, etc.).
In Latvia, there is both state-financed and fee-paying higher education. In order to single out the most able students, whose studies are publicly financed, higher education institutions carry out a procedure of student selection. Latvia successfully participates in the establishment of the European higher education area, that promotes mobility, attracts students and staff from Europe and as well as from other parts of world and is internationally competitive. Higher education institutions of Latvia are active members of international cooperation in the field of education and research. Institutions of higher education promote the development of student competitiveness in the dynamically changing socioeconomic environment in the local and international labour markets.
The Latvian higher education system is part of the Bologna process, and, correspondingly, follows the so-called 3-cycle system, where the 1st cycle includes an academic or professional Bachelor degree, the 2nd cycle includes an academic or professional Master degree and the 3rd cycle includes the Doctoral degree. Academic credits in academic and professional programmes may be transferred in order to adjust one’s education path to one’s specific needs. Only graduates holding a master’s degree or equivalent higher education diploma may take up doctoral studies. These last three to four years, involving advanced studies, examinations and the preparation and defence of a doctoral thesis.
The system of higher education of Latvia sets a difference between academic and professional higher education. Most of the institutions of higher education offer both academic and professional higher education degree.
Academic higher education programmes
are based upon fundamental and/or applied science; they usually comprise a thesis at the end of each stage and lead to a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree Duration of Bachelor’s programmes may be 3 or 4 years.
Professional higher education programmes:
are based upon fundamental and applied science that ensures opportunities to prepare for professional activities. In total the duration of professional study programmes is not less than 4 years after secondary education and not less than 2 years after college education. The length of the first level of professional higher education or college education (2-3 years); second level of professional higher education or bachelor degree lasts 4 years but professional Master’s studies 1-2 years. Doctoral studies last 3-4 full-time years.
The cost of studies depends on the institution and the programme being followed. The range is from 1000 EUR per year in Teacher training programme (4 years of studies) to 10,000 EUR per year for a Den
Latvia was originally settled by the ancient people known as Balts.In the 9th century the Balts came under the over lordship of the Varangians,or Vikings, but a more lasting dominance was established over them by their German-speaking neighbours to the west,who Christianized Latvia in the 12th and 13th centuries.The Knights of the Sword,who merged with the German Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1237,conquered all of Latvia by 1230, and German overlordship of the area continued for three centuries,with a German landowning class ruling over an enserfed Latvian peasantry. From the mid-16th to the early 18th century,Latvia was partitioned between Poland and Sweden, but by the end of the 18th century the whole of Latvia had been annexed by expansionist Russia.German landowners managed to retain their influence in Latvia,but indigenous Latvian nationalism grew rapidly in the early 20th century.Following the Russian Revolution of 1917,Latvia declared its independence on November 18, 1918,and,after a confused period of fighting,the new nation was recognized by Soviet Russia and Germany in 1920.
Independent Latvia was governed by democratic coalitions until 1934, when autocratic rule was established by President Karlis Ulmanis.In 1939 Latvia was forced to grant military bases on its soil to the Soviet Union,and in 1940 the Soviet Red Army moved into Latvia, which was soon incorporated into the Soviet Union.Nazi Germany held Latvia from 1941 to 1944,when it was retaken by the Red Army.Latvia farms were forcibly collectivized in 1949,and its flourishing economy was integrated into that of the Soviet Union.Latvia remained one of the most prosperous and highly industrialized parts of the Soviet Union,however, and its people retained strong memories of their brief 20-year period of independence.With the liberalization of the Soviet regime undertaken by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s, Latvians began seeking Latvia declared restoration of its independence on May, 1990 and attained full independence from the Soviet Union in August 21, 1991.
The Latvians constitute a prominent division of the ancient group of peoples known as the Balts.The first historically documented connection between the Balts and the civilization of the Mediterranean world was based on the ancient amber trade:according to the Roman historian Tacitus (1st century AD), the Aestii (predecessors of the Old Prussians) developed an important trade with the Roman Empire. During the 10th and 11th centuries Latvian lands were subject to a double pressure: from the east there was Slavic penetration; from the west came the Swedish push toward the shores of Courland.
The culture of Latvia combines traditional Latvian and Livonian heritage with influences of the country varied historical heritage.
The majority of inhabitants are Latvians.There is a culturally and linguistically distinct subgroup, the Latgalians, who inhabit the Latgale region in eastern Latvia.Another indigenous group are the Livonians, whose Finnic Livonian language is nearly extinct. The largest minority group is the Slavic people, notably Russians. Other well known minorities are Romani people, Baltic Germans and Jews, whose population decreased significantly after the Second World War,as well as Lithuanians and Estonians.
Latvia is divided into several cultural and historical regions – Vidzeme,Latgale,Courland and Zemgale.Sometimes, Selija and Maliena are also distinguished.
Latvians have the rich heritage of traditional folklore,especially folk songs.Dating back well over a thousand years, more than 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs have been identified
A form of traditional architecture in Latvia is log houses.The position of houses differs between regions. In western Latvia, single farms are more popular and in villages,the houses are positioned in a circle around a central square. In eastern Latvia,villages are more popular and houses are positioned along a main street.This is seen as an influence of nearby Russia.
Launched in 2007 and now complete, the Lativan Cultural Canon was selected by a series of groups of experts in the areas of architecture and design,cinema,literature,music,stage art,national traditions and visual arts.It contains a total of 99 works.
Latvia has two sorts of higher education programmes – academic and professional.Such a division of higher education allows the student to choose either research or professional activity in the future. Professional higher education is divided into two levels.First level professional higher education programmes lasting 2-3 years after upper secondary education are provided by Colleges.Second level professional higher education programmes last at least four years after upper secondary education or two years after acquiring Bachelor degree (3-year studies).These programmes,as well as higher academic education programmes are offered at universities or non-university-type higher education institutions.
Academic programmes leading to a bachelor degree comprise 120 – 160 national credit points (160-180 ECTS),including:
Compulsory subjects – not less than 50 national credit points (75 ECTS);
Electives not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS);
Thesis not less than 10 national credit points (15 ECTS);
The remainder is left for students as free electives.
The duration of full-time studies is 6 – 8 semesters (3-4 years).
The duration of full-time studies is 4 semesters (2 years) and requires at least 5 years total length of bachelor and master studies in Latvia.The objectives of academic higher education are to prepare graduates for independent research,as well as to provide theoretical background for professional activities.Academic education programmes are implemented according to the national standard of academic education.
Professional programmes leading to a professional bachelor degree comprise at least 160 national credit points (240 ECTS) of which:
General courses – not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS).
Theoretical courses of the chosen field – not less than 36 national credit points (54 ECTS).
Specialized courses – not less than 60 national credit points (90 ECTS).
optional courses – not less 6 national credit points (9 ECTS),
Practical placement – not less than 26 national credit points (39 ECTS).
And state examinations including thesis – not less than 12 national credit points (18 ECTS).
The duration of full-time studies is 8 semesters (4 years).
Higher education institutions mostly run both academic and professional programs.Academic higher education programs are based upon fundamental and/or applied science; they usually comprise a thesis at the end of each stage and lead to a Bachelor or master degree.Professional higher education – the first level professional higher education or college education leading to professional qualification Level 4,and second level of professional higher education leading to qualification Level 5.Having mastered a program of second level of professional higher education, students are awarded a professional qualification or professional Bachelor degree that can be followed by a further professional master studies
Post Graduate Degree (ISCED level 6)
Master degree or the equivalent (graduates of 5-6 year professional higher education programmes in Law and Medicine can continue education at postgraduate level directly) is required for admission to doctoral studies (Ph.D.).Doctoral studies last 3-4 full-time years.They include advanced studies of the subject in a relevant study programme (or an equivalent amount of independent research while working at a university, research institution, etc.) and a scientific research towards doctoral thesis.Publications in internationally quoted scientific journals are required before public defence of the doctoral thesis as an integral part of a study programme.The Council of Science appoints Promotion Council and sets the procedures for award of Doctor degrees.
Types of Postgraduate Degrees Available in Latvia
Engineering and Technology
MBA and management
Latvia is easily accessible by land, sea or air, and has the largest railway terminal and international airport in the Baltics. When travelling around Latvia, all the loveliest locations of our country are easily accessible also by regional transportation systems – trains or buses. Travelling by public transport has its advantages over sitting behind the wheel of one car.Those are – a chance to leisurely view countryside, forests and rivers, posh villas and old farmsteads float by.
It is mandatory to keep headlights on while driving, even in daylight; most cars commercially sold in Latvia are equipped to make this automatic. There is also a vast network of bus connections around Latvia. Buy a bus ticket at the bus station or on bus when boarding. If you have luggage, ask the bus driver to put it in the trunk. It depends on the bus company, if they will charge extra. There are express bus connections to major towns, which can save a lot of time.
It is advisable to go by train instead of bus from Riga to the following towns: Jurmala, Tukums, Jelgava, Salaspils, Jekabpils, Daugavpils, Rezekne, Sigulda, Cesis and Saulkrasti. If you are going to other cities, there are most likely only a couple trains per day or there are no trains going at all. Trains are usually cheaper and you do not need to worry about having no seat. Trains are usually crowded on peak days of summer. Latvian Railways is the main state-owned railway company in Latvia. Its daughter companies both carry out passengers services as well as carry a large quantity of freight cargo, and freight trains operate over the whole current passenger network, and a number of lines currently closed to passenger services.
There is also a narrow gauge railway between Gulbene and Aluksne, operated by the Industrial Heritage Trust, using Russian and Polish built heritage rolling stock. Three narrow gauge trains a day operate on the 33 km route between the two towns. The train can take you also to the beautiful seaside town of Liepaja or to Latvia second largest city Daugavpils in Latgale.
Share taxis – minibuses service locations in the vicinity of Riga: Marupe, Kekava, Salaspils. This mode of transport is especially convenient for travelling to Jurmala:unlike train, it has no stops en route and can reach the resort city within 20 minutes.
Riga International Airport is the only major airport in Latvia, carrying around 5 million passengers annually. It is the largest airport in the Baltic states and has direct flights to over 80 destinations in 30 countries including a nonstop transatlantic flight to New York-JFK operated by Uzbekistan Airlines year-round. It is also the main hub of airBaltic.In the recent years air Baltic operated also in Liepaja International Airport as well as Ventspils International Airport but operations in both of these airports were soon ceased. Currently there are plans for further development in several regional airports, including Jurmala Airport, Liepaja, Ventspils as well as Daugavpils International Airport. As of 2003, there were a total of 51 airfields in Latvia, with 27 of them having paved runways.
The standard of living is much lower in Latvia compared to the more developed European states.The average wage is also not competitive in comparison with Europe. The average gross monthly wage in Latvia in the4th quarter of 2013 was EUR 737.According to the EURES (European Employment services) data on living and working conditions in Latvia,the country has a fairly lower standard of living as compared to other European countries,so students from abroad can spend more on their everyday needs.
Dormitories/Student Hostel: 70-120 EUR
Flat renting,not shared: 250-350 EUR
Flat renting,shared: 100-200EUR
Average monthly living expenses in Latvia are estimated to be between 450 and 700 EUR, depending on the type of accommodation (student dorm or privately rented housing/flat).These amounts should be enough to cover food,accommodation, utilities,transportation and other expenses.
120-250 EUR (Meals at the city centre: 5-9 EUR per meal)
Taxi (from the city centre to suburbs):7-15 EUR (1 transfer)
Public transport tickets for students:16 EUR per month (trams,trolleybuses,buses)
Public transport one-way ticket:1.20 EUR
The majority of graduate jobs are likely to be found in Riga,the capital, and employers usually require a good command of Latvian.
The job market What are your chances of getting a job?
Latvia suffered during the recession and as a result unemployment rates grew.Things are now improving but the labour market has not fully recovered yet.A rapid increase in the number of available jobs is not expected but your best chances are in the capital of Riga, where unemployment is lowest.
Unemployment rates are high which means workers should be available, however Latvian employers have reported a difficulty in being able to find people with the relevant qualifications and certain skills including communication, presentation, negotiation and computer skills.If you can show evidence of these in your application you may increase your chances of finding a job.
A good command of Latvian is usually required but employers also look for knowledge of foreign languages including English and Russian.
Where can you work?
Major industries: processed foods, wood products, textiles, processed metals, transit, synthetic fibres, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
Recent growth areas: an increase in demand for highly skilled professionals is expected, particularly in manufacturing and commercial services.
Industries in decline: all sectors are expected to have less demand for low-skilled labour and the demand for medium-skilled agricultural workers will decrease.
Shortage occupations:jobs may be found in state administration,commerce, manufacturing,transportation and health and social care.Construction specialists, pharmacologists and engineers may also be in demand.
Major companies:Grindex Pharmaceuticals (pharmaceuticals), Phillip Morris International (tobacco company), KPMG (professional services), Latvenergo (utilities), Lattelecom (IT and telecommunications), Tele2 (telecommunications), AirBaltic (national airline).
What is it like working in Latvia?
Average working hours: a standard working day can not exceed eight hours while a normal working week is 40 hours. Overtime is permitted if agreed by both employer and employee.
Holidays:employees are entitled to a minimum of four weeks of paid leave and all public holidays a year.
Tax rates:income from paid work is subject to social insurance contributions at a rate of 10.5% by the employee. Private income tax is at a rate of 24%.Do not forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position withHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
As some jobs are advertised online it is possible to apply for work while still in the UK. Typical application methods include a CV and covering letter, with some larger companies using application forms. It is also possible to send speculative applications which state the type of work you are looking for and why you are interested in working for that particular company.
It is most likely that Latvian employers will expect your application to be in Latvian as most jobs require some knowledge of the language. Russian, German and English may also be used in employment so check job advertisements carefully for language requirements.
CVs are typically similar to those used in the UK. Your CV and covering letter should be tailored to each specific job that you apply for. Make sure your covering letter explains why you are applying for the role and want to work for that company in Latvia.
Interviews are also similar to those carried out in the UK. International employers will use their normal selection procedures, which may include aptitude tests and assessment centres.
Research a company before attending an interview,including the location of its European headquarters and its main product/work.Consider the challenges of an Eastern European economy. Get more applications and CV advice.
Vacancy sources Job websites
Academic Jobs EU
CV Online – Latvia
Eurociett: the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies is a regulatory body for recruitment agencies and has a directory of members.
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia.With 693,064 inhabitants (January 2014),Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states and home to more than one third of Latvia population.The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava.Riga territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies between 1 and 10 metres(3.3 and 32.8 ft)above sea level,on a flat and sandy plain.
Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member.Riga historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture.The city is the European Capital of Culture during 2014,along with Umeå in Sweden.The city hosted the 2006 NATO Summit,the Eurovision Song Contest 2003,the 2006 IIHF Mens World Ice Hockey Championships and the Kaspersky Lab Riga Open Snooker tournament.It is home to the European Union office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).Riga is served by Riga International Airport,the largest airport in the Baltic states.
Riga is a member of Eurocities,the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).
Liepaja is a city in western Latvia,located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E.It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils.An important ice-free port,as of 1 July 2011,Liepaja had a population of 75,000.Liepāja is known throughout Latvia as The city where the wind is born,likely because of the constant sea breeze.A song of the same name (Latvian: Pilseta, kura piedzimst vejs) was composed by Imants Kalniņs and has become the anthem of the city.Its reputation of Liepaja as the windiest city in Latvia was strengthened with the construction nearby of the largest wind power plant in the nation (33 Enercon wind turbines).
The Coat of Arms of Liepaja was adopted four days after the jurisdiction gained city rights on 18 March 1625. These are described as:on a silver background,the lion of Courland with a divided tail,who leans upon a linden (Latvian:Liepa) tree with its forelegs.The flag of Liepaja has the coat of arms in the center,with red in the top half and green in the bottom.
Although the labour market situation in Latvia has been greatly affected by the global financial crisis leading to a sharp decrease of number of vacancies and even though Latvian and/or Russian language skills are almost always compulsory if you want to get a job in Riga, there are nonetheless possibilities to find jobs for people speaking other languages than the abovementioned ones.
Latvia Work Permits
The permit is required for a foreign resident who wishes to work in Latvia.
An employment contract with a business registered in Latvia must be presented.
A work permit must be presented before starting an employment contract.
A residential permit or special visa must be attached to the employment contract.
In the following case, a work permit is unnecessary:
– Managers, who are not authorized signatories, of a company that represents a foreign firm.
– Shareholders, who are not authorized signatories, of companies registered in Latvia.
– Owners of permanent residential permits.
The work permit is not needed in such cases:
If foreigner enters for road shows (concerts) as performer (musician, singer, dancer, actor, dangler etc.), author (compositor, choreograph, film/stage director, stage designer etc.), administrative or technical worker who is responsible for ensuring performances (concerts) and if planned residence time does not exceed 14 days;
If foreigner enters in accordance with educational institution or scientific institute or independent researcher invitation in relation with scientific studies or in order to participate in implementing educational programs and if planned residence time does not exceed 14 days.
Residence and Work Permits for Researchers and Students
The Latvian migration legislation predicts simplified procedures regarding researchers, lecturers and students. A third-country national has the right to request a temporary residence permit in accordance with the procedures prescribed normative acts, if he/she,
Is involved in scientific co-operation with Latvian host institution included in Register of Scientific Institutions, for a period of time provided for by the contract of scientific co-operation, but not longer than five years. A work permit is not necessary for third-country national in this case;
Is a full-time student (including doctoral students) in educational establishments accredited in the Republic of Latvia, for the time period of studies, but not longer than for one year. A work permit shall be issued to a full-time student, if work time specified in work contract does not exceed 20 hours per week;
In both cases, the spouse of third-country national, minor children (also those under guardianship) and persons under trusteeship also have the right to request a temporary residence permit for the duration of the temporary residence permit issued to the third-country national.
Also after the expiration of the time period referred, a third-country national may again request a residence permit if the basis for requesting a residence permit is still valid.
A work permit is not necessary also if a third-country national on the basis of an invitation from an educational institution or scientific institution, or individual scientist in relation to scientific research or participation in the implementation of an educational programme and the intended length of stay in the Republic of Latvia does not exceed 14 days.