RIGA - This past May, in the final reading, Saeima passed amendments to the Citizenship Law, part of which deal with the dual citizenship issue, reports LETA. The amendments came into force on Oct. 1.
The amendments stipulate that nationals residing abroad, citizens of Latvia who were deported or left Latvia as a result of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany occupations, or those that were deported and up to May 4, 1990 and had not returned to Latvia permanently, qualify for and will be able to apply for dual citizenship.
The bill stipulates that Latvian citizenship will be retained for those citizens of Latvia who have received citizenship of another European Union member state, member states of the European Free Trade Association, or NATO. Dual citizenship will also apply to citizens who become citizens in a country with which Latvia has signed an agreement on dual citizenship. More countries have been added in this regard - Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
Also, Latvian citizenship will be granted to newborns, regardless of where they are born, if one of their parents is a citizen of Latvia. Non-citizens’ children born in Latvia after Aug. 21, 1991 will also be granted Latvian citizenship if they are permanent residents of Latvia and currently have the status of a stateless person or a non-citizen, and if the parents of the child have no objections and confirm that they will help the child learn the Latvian language and honor and respect the Republic of Latvia.
Latvian citizenship will also be retained for every person who becomes a citizen of another country through marriage or adoption. Regarding the native inhabitants of Latvia - the Liivs - citizenship is granted to those who can verify their ancestors’ home base in Latvian territory, and have command of the Latvian language.
Since Saeima passed amendments to the Citizenship Law, there has been much interest from people wishing to apply for Latvian citizenship, said deputy head of the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs Janis Citskovskis on Latvian Radio on Sept. 24. Citskovskis said that the World Federation of Free Latvians mentioned that approximately 20,000 eligible persons could apply for dual citizenship, but that there are also much larger projections as well.
He also believes that Latvian embassies and diplomatic missions will have much additional work once the amendments come into force. For example, in Australia, a Latvian honorary consul has a long list of applicants wishing to apply for Latvian citizenship, and that these meetings are already scheduled for several months in advance.
If not necessarily a boost to the number of people living in Latvia, as many are still leaving for work abroad, the country can at least expect the head count of citizens to soon take a welcome jump upwards.