On March, 22 the Society Integration Fund there was organized the first focus group discussion with participation of the third country nationals and representatives from state institutions. During discussion the topics like health care, access to education, Latvian language training, employment a.o. themes were touched upon. 

In the discussion participated citizens from Georgia, Egypt, Russia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine who currently live in Latvia, and representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Welfare, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, the National Health Service, the Latvian Language Agency, Association „Shelter “Safe House"".

During discussions the third country nationals had an opportunity to share their positive and negative experience when they started to live in Latvia, and to ask questions in the presence of representatives from relevant institutions. Hot discussions aroused about health care accessibility to the third country nationals with residence permits.

Russian citizen and Egyptian citizen have personally faced situation of being refused the medical assistance, there is no information available about paid family doctors.

Mrs. I.Fjodorova, the representative from the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, explains that “Foreigner is eligible to arrive and stay in the Republic of Latvia if he or she has a valid health insurance policy that guarantees the coverage of expenses related to health care in the Republic of Latvia including delivery back to domicile of the foreigner in case of severe illness. Cases when a foreigner is entitled to arrive and stay in the Republic of Latvia without health insurance policy are defined by the Cabinet of Ministers. Pursuant to Subclause 3.1. by the Regulations No. 591 of the Cabinet of Ministers as of 28.07.2008. “Regulations on Health Insurance for Foreigners” the foreigner that requires permanent residence permit or has received a permanent residence permit is entitled to arrive and stay in the territory of Republic of Latvia without a policy. 

In the Article 6 of the said Regulations there is defined the scope of health care services that have to be guaranteed by the policy:

  1. Emergency aid;
  2. Treatment at in-patient hospital in case of situation dangerous to life and health;
  3. Transportation to the closest medical institution where are provided the services mentioned in the 1st and 2nd points. 
  4. Transportation to deliver back to domicile in case of severe illness or death.

During discussions about education availability for the children of third country nationals there was a debate about the rights of these citizens to choose for their children the most appropriate school. Mrs. Liesma Ose, the Counselor to the Minister of Education and Science on the society integration issues, explains: "It was previously that children of these citizens were advised to attend the Riga Secondary School no. 15 where bilingual lectures take place. Currently parents can choose any school and parents have the opportunity to refuse by insisting that their child acquires education in Latvian. Now it is also possible at the premises of the Ministry of Education and Science at Vaļņu street 1st floor, the Education Information Centre to go to individual consultant who will help to choose the school according to interests of the child."

Views varied about the Latvian language training. Third country nationals were of the opinion that information about courses is not available as they receive this information mainly from friends and acquaintances.

Mrs. Ē. Pičukāne, the representative from the Latvian Language Agency, informed: "Currently Latvian language courses are extensively available and also information on the internet is available. Frequently the organizers of courses face situation that they cannot make up the courses due to insufficient number of participants. Also information about courses may be received at the home page of National Integration Centre www.integration.lv. While at the home page of “Collaboration Bridge” www.sazinastilts.lv there are a lot of materials how to acquire Latvian language for free – there are available movies and other educational materials. 

March 22, 2013
by NGO Latvia
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„Society Integration Foundation has established the e-platform www.ngolatvia.lv in the framework of the project „TOGETHER. UNITED. ACTIVE.” (contract No. IF/2011/1.a./16) funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (75%) and Latvian state budget (25%). The responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Society Integration Foundation, as well as information posted is each user`s own responsibility.”

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