Amendments to Citizenship Law come into effect on 1 October 2013
On 23 May this year, the President of Latvia Andris Bērziņš promulgated the Citizenship Law amendments adopted by the Saeima that provided for dual citizenship options in Latvia, simplified procedures for granting Latvian citizenship to the children of non-citizens and aliens, and changes in the naturalisation process.
The amendments to the law allow for dual citizenship to all Latvian citizens living abroad and their descendants, both Latvians and Livs, and other groups of citizens. Latvian citizens will be permitted dual citizenship with certain groups of countries and individual countries – the EU, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and NATO member states, Australia, the Federative Republic of Brazil and New Zealand. For their part, persons registering their citizenship of Latvia due to being Latvians or Livs, or Latvian exiles will have the right to retain dual citizenship with any country; thus all prerequisites are created for the return of those persons to Latvian citizenry.
Persons who have renounced Latvian citizenship or have been deprived of Latvian citizenship due to having acquired another citizenship will have the right to apply for reinstating Latvian citizenship. This will not be possible only if those persons had been granted the citizenship of a country not on the list of countries with which double citizenship is allowed.
The amendments to the Citizenship Law will make the obtaining of Latvian citizenship easier for children born outside Latvia if at their birth one of their parents is a Latvian citizen and the other – a citizen of another country, both permanently residing outside Latvia. Respectively, a child is to be recognised as a Latvian citizen if at his or her birth one or both parents are citizens of Latvia.
The Cabinet Regulations lay down procedures for registering persons as Latvian citizens. Pursuant to Section 2, Paragraph one of the Citizenship Law (regarding Latvians, Livs and descendants of Latvian citizens) and Section 81 (regarding exiles and their descendants), a package of documents has been specified to be presented by a person in order to demonstrate eligibility under the provisions of the Citizenship Law.
From now onwards, decisions on reinstating or depriving of citizenship will be made by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA). Thus the procedures will be made faster by reducing the number of institutions involved in decision-making.
Diplomatic missions and consular posts of Latvia abroad (missions) begin accepting applications for the registration of citizenship as from today, 1 October,
Besides, the procedures set out in the Cabinet Regulations offer several options for handing in the documents. All the documents for the registration of citizenship can be submitted:
1) in person, to the OCMA;
2) to a diplomatic mission or a consular post of Latvia abroad;
3) by post to the OCMA or in electronic form, in accordance with the procedures specified in legislation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites applicants for Latvian citizenship to carefully study the information on the websites of the OCMA the MFA regarding the documents required for Latvian citizenship registration and, before sending the papers to the OCMA or going to an OCMA territorial section or a diplomatic mission, make sure that all documents required by law have been attached to the application.