Latvia is one of the worst countries in the EU in terms of access to rights for LGBT+ people, but relocating there may be an option if you are looking for a basic set of protective measures that entitle you to the right to employment, housing, education, and social and healthcare assistance, as well as some other benefits, such as a one-time employment allowance amounting to 500 euros.
Ukrainian citizens who have a biometric passport do not need a visa for the first 90 days. Residents without a biometric passport will be issued a visa free of charge.
Additionally, under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, you have the right to apply for a long-term visa with the right to employment, or apply for asylum in Latvia.
A long-term visa will be issued for a one-year term. The possibility of renewing the visa will depend on the further development of the situation in Ukraine.
You can apply for a visa:
- At the Central Support Centre for the Residents of Ukraine, Kalku Street 1, Riga
- OCMA territorial offices outside Riga
- By post or courier, sending documents to OCMA Migration Division in Riga, Čiekurkalna 1.līnija 1, k-3, LV-1026 or any territorial division outside Riga
Documents required when applying for a visa:
- Copy of your passport (data section and pages with visas and/or border crossing marks).
- When sending documents by mail a 35mm x 45mm photo is required. No photo is required when submitting documents in person.
- Long-term visa application form.
The visa will be issued at the same place where it was requested and it is free of charge.
Residents of Ukraine living in Latvia can receive the following benefits:
- One-off benefit in a crisis situation - 272 euros for an adult and 190 euros for a child
- An additional monthly allowance of 109 euros for the first person and 76 euros for each subsequent person in a Ukrainian household
- other material support or social services according to individual needs
More information on the website of the Ministry of Welfare.
Additionally, Ukrainians are entitled to the following support packages upon receipt of a certificate from the municipal social service on the crisis situation:
- One person will be able to receive two food parcels, and a hygiene and household goods parcel;
- Two additional child food parcels are available if the family has young children aged 7 to 24 months, as well as an additional package of hygiene products if the family has small children under 2 years of age.
- In addition, families with school-aged children will be able to receive a package of necessary school materials.
With a certificate, you will be able to receive support packages at any of more than 400 distribution points throughout Latvia.
The certificate can be obtained from your municipality (see "Cities & regions"). It is also possible to receive ready-made meals in soup kitchens without presenting a certificate or other documents. More information here.
State-covered health care
Every Ukrainian who arrives in Latvia is already eligible for the same free-of-charge state-covered health care and medical services, including medicines, as are available to Latvian residents.
More information about available healthcare services can be found here.
Urgent medical assistance
If you or your family members need urgent medical assistance on arrival in Latvia, please inform the State Border Guard officials on duty at the border crossing point or call 113.
Medical assistance for children
The Children's Hospital Foundation offers assistance to Ukrainians by coordinating health services, as well as providing financial support when necessary medical services are not covered by the state, offering transport to a medical institution, psychological assistance, medicines, or medical supplies. More information here. Phone +371 25680140
Psychological and emotional support
Free psycho-emotional support is available for children, adolescents, and their families. More information here.
Latvia provides accommodation and meals to Ukrainian residents in Latvia free of charge for the first 120 days of their registration in Latvia.
If you need accommodation, please contact the 24/7 hotline +371 27380380.
If you are in Riga, you can also contact the Riga city hotline +371 80000800 (workdays from 8am to 6pm). Ukrainians in Latvia are mainly accommodated in hotels and tourist accommodation facilities, as well as in the homes of Latvian residents.
People who, for objective reasons, may have difficulty paying for housing after the state-provided accommodation period, will be able to receive accommodation support after the 120-day period, but only until 31 December 2022.
You are entitled to accommodation after a period of 120 days if you:
- have a disability;
- are a care provider for someone with disabilities;
- are of retirement age in accordance with the retirement age specified in Latvia;
- pay for and/or attend full-time education at a pre-school, primary education, general secondary or vocational secondary education institution;
- are a full-time student at a higher education institution in Latvia;
- are a woman on maternity leave;
- are a child's parent on parental leave.
Ukrainians whose housing costs are higher than their income or who cannot fully afford their housing costs can apply for housing benefits. Benefits are granted and paid by the municipal social service. For the first three calendar months, the benefit is paid without any prior assessment, whereas after the end of the first three months its amount will depend on the assessment of the applicant's material situation. Information on the application procedure and the required documents is available here.
For long-term options of flats you can use these websites (NOT VERIFIED):
EL*C has created a lesbian hosting network of individuals who have made their flats and spare rooms available to Ukrainian refugees. Please notice that EL*C can provide you with a temporary solution (up to a few months). Contact the relocation team at: +48 571 944 400 and email@example.com.
Every child who has arrived in Latvia as a refugee from Ukraine has the opportunity to receive education in the state language or in the minority language (including Ukrainian) at the pre-school and primary education level. Also, children will be able to attend extra-curricular education groups without any restrictions. Information on admission procedures in schools is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science.
Ukrainians can also continue their studies as exchange students, while researchers can be employed in Latvian research institutions, receiving the same support for studies as for students in Latvia or researchers in existing research cooperation programs. The list of higher education institutions, study programs, and contacts is available here.
In Latvia, Ukrainians can use regional public transport and carry their luggage on trains and buses free of charge, upon presentation of an identity document. More information can be found here.
Ukrainians registered at the Riga Support Centre can use the capital's public transport free of charge.
Ukrainians may start employment in Latvia if they have obtained a long-term visa (temporary protection status) with the right to employment without restrictions for a period of up to one year. Upon entering into employment, Ukrainians are entitled to a one-time employment allowance of EUR 500. To receive the benefit, you have to apply for it at the State Employment Agency (SEA) within one month after starting work. More information on applying for the employment allowance can be found here.
State Employment Agency toll-free number: +371 80200206
Available vacancies and jobs are posted on the SEA website.
Information on job opportunities as well as practical information is available on the crowdsourced job opportunities platform www.ukraine-latvia.com/jobs
More information on employment requirements and rules in Latvia is available on the website of the State Labour Inspectorate (SLI).
LGBT people in Latvia face legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Latvia, but households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. Latvia does not recognise same-sex marriage or any other type of same-sex partnership, including registered partnerships.
Latvian law allows any person over 25 to adopt. However, people who are not married to each other may not adopt the same child. This means that, in the case of unmarried couples, only one partner may adopt a child. However, lesbian couples can get access to IVF and assisted insemination treatment.
It is possible to surgically change gender in Latvia and to legally change gender identity to reflect this. Latvian law does not define a legal gender recognition procedure, but a medical certificate must be submitted to the authorities in order to legally change gender.
Association of LGBT and their friends Mozaika
They will assist you with advice and, if necessary, provide legal support, help in accessing health care, food, and accommodation.
Stabu iela 19-2, Rīga
Non-LGBT+ organisations helping Ukrainians
Information on non-governmental organisations providing support to Ukrainian citizens is available here. The list also includes organisations that provide support for people with visual and hearing impairments, as well as people with other disabilities, and can support with technical aids and applying for dedicated parking cards.
This website contains information about special offers by Latvian companies and non-governmental organisations for people from Ukraine (NOT VERIFIED).
In order to bring together those who want to donate clothes, shoes, furniture, household appliances, children's goods, etc. and those who need these supplies, an interactive map is available here: https://www.kartadopomogy.lv. It provides information on more than 110 places in Latvia where you can donate or receive the items and help you need (NOT VERIFIED).
If you have a pet traveling with you from Ukraine, please contact your nearest veterinarian to arrange a visit as soon as you settle down. The veterinarian will examine, register, chip, and vaccinate the animal free of charge. Website of the Food and Veterinary Service: www.pvd.gov.lv.
In Riga, there is a volunteer-operated welcome booth inside Riga Bus Station. The booth is open 8:00 to 24:00 every day.