Saeima: Russian citizens will have extra time to pass the state language test


Russian citizens who applied but failed to pass the official language examination or did not take it for justified reasons may obtain a residence permit for a term of up to two years, according to the amendments to the Immigration Law adopted by the Saeima in the second and final reading on Thursday, 14 September.

The person applying for the permit must learn the official language and pass a test within the permit’s validity period.

Justifiable reasons for not passing the test may include, for instance, serious health conditions or other circumstances beyond the person's control.

According to the authors of the amendments, the changes are necessary to ensure that all those who wish to continue living in Latvia in the long term and be able to speak conversational Latvian can do so after 1 September.

In addition, a person who has demonstrated the necessary language skills but is unable to obtain EU permanent resident status due to exceeded absence term or insufficient financial resources,  will be able to obtain a residence permit.

The application for a residence permit must be submitted to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs by 30 March 2024.

The amendments stipulate that during this transitional period, Russian citizens who will be granted residence permits will have the right to employment without restrictions, as well as the right to receive existing state-provided services, including pensions and benefits, if their declared place of residence is in the Republic of Latvia. Russian citizens who will lose the legal status allowing them to reside in Latvia will not retain these rights.

So far, more than 13 000 Russian citizens have applied for the official language proficiency test, have passed the exam or are planning to do so in the near future, the explanatory note to the draft law indicates. Earlier, at a meeting of the Defence, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee, which is responsible for the draft law's progress in the Saeima, the National Centre for Education said that 39 per cent of those interested had passed the exam.

The Saeima previously amended the Immigration Law, changing the procedure for Russian citizens staying in Latvia in order to strengthen internal security, fortify the position of the Latvian language, and promote inclusion and belonging to Latvia among foreign citizens who are staying in our country on a long-term basis.

The changes stipulated that those who had previously renounced their status as Latvian citizens or non-citizens in favour of Russian citizenship would have their residence permit in Latvia valid until 1 September this year. In order to obtain a permanent residence permit again, these persons had to submit an application to the the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, as well as a document confirming the passing of the official language examination or a certificate of exemption from it, and a document confirming sufficient financial resources.

The amendments to the Immigration Law will enter into force on the day following their promulgation.


Saeima Press Service

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