SIF Integration and Inclusion Agency (IIA) for newcomers expands its activities in Vidzeme region

15.05.2024
SIF Integration and Inclusion Agency (IIA) for newcomers expands its activities in Vidzeme region

Since April, SIF Integration and Inclusion Agency’s (IIA) services for migrants are available throughout Latvia. The Vidzeme branch of the IIA is opened in Valmiera, making services available in all regions of Latvia – Kurzeme (Liepāja), Zemgale (Jelgava), Latgale (Daugavpils), Vidzeme (Valmiera) and Riga. IIA provides all necessary informational support which is needed for third-country nationals and recipients of international protection when they move to live in Latvia.

 

The Integration and Inclusion Agency offers a wide range of information tailored to the needs of its clients through face-to-face and/or online individual consultations. Information is provided in Latvian, Russian and English, and if the client uses another language, an interpreter is provided if necessary. In situations that require the involvement of other professionals (a situation related to entry into Latvia, unemployment, barriers to public services, etc.), a change agent is involved to work individually with the client on a long-term basis. In additional to individual consultations, the Agency provides translation services in more than 24 languages, legal assistance, and will provide individual consultations with psychologist and psychotherapist in near future.

 

“We are pleased that with the opening of the Valmiera branch, the services of the Integration and Inclusion Agency are available throughout Latvia. Last year, 26,000 third-country nationals arrived in Latvia, compared to around three times fewer five years ago. In the development of the regional branches of the IIA, together with NGOs, representatives of the business community, academics, representatives of state and local government institutions, through open conversations, we are looking for ways to jointly create conditions so that all those who have chosen Latvia as their home country would feel good here; that they would be included in employment, the education system, government processes and would come to love our society, culture and language,” says Inese Saldābola, Head of the Integration and Inclusion Agency.

 

To promote cooperation between the Vidzeme branch of the IIA and stakeholders, SIF organised a launch event in Valmiera, which brought together representatives from various sectors – local authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academia, businesses and institutions supporting the sector and other interested parties to learn more about the IIA’s activities and build closer cooperation. It also included a public debate “What do we need to do to ensure that newcomers are not a threat to our current way of life?”, which was attended by Zaiga Pūce, Head of the Secretariat of the Society Integration Foundation, Jānis Olmanis, Vice-Chairman of the Valmiera Municipality Council for Education, Culture and Sport, Mārīte Balaņuka, Coordinator of International Studies Programmes at Vidzeme School of International Studies, Daiga Rokpelne, Board Member of the Dots Foundation, Founder of the Valmiera Municipality Foundation, Director of the Valmiera Integrated Library, Edgars Atlācis, Managing Partner of the law firm “Atlācis un partneri”. The main findings are that the services of the IIA are welcome and would have been needed several years ago, and that the Agency will provide a great deal of support in dealing with issues that are important to foreigners.  According to the data of the State Employment Agency, in 2024 the unemployment rate in Valmiera region was 3.9%, and in Cēsis region 3.8%, these indicators are among the lowest in Latvia; however, representatives of the business environment in Vidzeme admit that with the development of entrepreneurship, the issue of attracting labour is becoming more and more relevant. According to the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, employers are facing a shortage of both low-skilled and highly skilled workers. Therefore, the employment of foreigners should be promoted by tackling the obstacles that currently hinder it

 

Clients of the Vidzeme region can receive services in Valmiera, at Meža iela 7, on Mondays from 13:00 to 18:00, on Tuesdays from 13:00 to 17:00, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00 to 13:00. Clients are welcomed by Jolanta Cērpa, IIA Change Agent. For consultations, please call +371 29809184 or send an e-mail to: jolanta.cerpa@sif.gov.lv.

 

In 2023, the Society Integration Foundation launched the Integration and Inclusion Agency to introduce service for foreigners with the aim of providing all the necessary information support to third-country nationals and beneficiaries of international protection in one place, necessary for their successful socio-economic integration when resettling in Latvia. IIA branches are located in Riga, Liepāja, Jelgava, Daugavpils and Valmiera. Between the beginning of 2023 and April 2024, a total of almost 6,000 individual consultations have been provided to IIA clients. These opportunities were taken by citizens of Ukraine, India, Russia, Belarus, Morocco and other third countries. The most frequent consultation topics are related to obtaining information on residence permits and citizenship, family reunification, employment options and access to Latvian language courses.

 

For more information about the Integration and Inclusion Agency, services it provides, and news, visit its website: www.integration.lv, and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/iialatvia. New website will be available from the beginning of May at www.livelatvia.lvwhere newcomers can find all the information they need about life collected in one place.

 

 

The implementation of the services of the Integration and Inclusion Agency is provided within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund project implemented by the Society Integration Fund (contract No PMIF/13.1./2022/1/01). Funding is provided by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (75%) and the Latvian state budget (25%).

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