The Seimas of Latvia approved in the first reading amendments to the Immigration Law, according to which Russian citizens who were former holders of a residence permit in the country are given a two-year deferment so that they have time to pass the Latvian language exam. Passing such an exam is a condition for extending a residence permit.
As Delfi reports, according to the bill, Russians will receive a temporary residence permit for a period of two years. They will also keep social guarantees for these two years.
By September 2, thousands of Russians holding a Latvian residence permit, who had not yet passed the exam by that day, had their residence permits revoked, according to current legislation; amendments to this effect were adopted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, most of these residents of Latvia did not pass the exam by the set date. According to the letter of the law, the authorities could resort to their deportation. The government, however, decided to grant them an additional two years.
Almost all parties, both government and opposition, voted for the postponement, except for the National Rally. In the final reading, the law is expected to be adopted on September 14.
At the beginning of September, more than 11 thousand of the 25 thousand people subject to the requirements of the law appeared for the Latvian language exam. As noted by Delfi, 61% of them could not successfully pass the exam.
Among Russian citizens living in Latvia there are many elderly people who reportedly have difficulty learning the language. There are 25,317 Russian citizens with special status living in Latvia. Before receiving a Russian passport, they were Latvian citizens or (in the vast majority) so-called non-citizens. At the end of September 2022, the Latvian parliament – the Seimas – legally canceled permanent residence permits for such people from September 2, 2023. To retain the right to live in Latvia, they must obtain a residence permit according to the new procedure. To do this, you need to submit a certificate of knowledge of the Latvian language to the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Affairs and prove that your monthly income during the last year was not lower than the minimum wage (620 euros in 2023) or that the person receives a Latvian pension.