Proposal to give Russians more time for exams advances in Saeima

The Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee has decided to direct amendments to the Immigration Law, which will provide for the possibility for Russian citizens living in Latvia to apply for a temporary residence permit for a period of two years during which the official language exam has to be completed, for viewing in the parliament, Latvian Radio reported September 5.

At the end of August, the government decided to urge the Saeima to amend the Immigration Law, providing that those Russian citizens who have not passed the official language check by September 1 for the receipt of a permanent residence permit in Latvia will have the possibility to apply for a temporary residence permit for two years during which the Latvian language check should be completed.

The relevant amendments have now been prepared, and the Saeima responsible committee has decided to direct them to the Saeima as a matter of urgency. Eight deputies were for, and two members of the National Alliance were against.

“We generally believe that there is a law right now. It's of good quality. Several experts on international law have also said this, and it is actually about consistent compliance with the law,” said Jānis Dombrava (National Alliance).

He conceded that the Saeima faction of the National Alliance could be against it, too. “We haven't had a faction meeting on this issue yet, but I certainly think there will be that position,” Dombrava added.

The matter must not be delayed because some of the residence permits of Russian citizens have become invalid and the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs is awaiting further instructions. There must be clarity, said Commission Chairman Raimonds Bergmanis (United List).

According to the planned changes, the residents will be able to request permission to stay in Latvia with Russian passports, while committing themselves to learn the official language during the term of validity of the permit. It will apply to those people who have already taken the test but fallen through. These are 60% of all sorters so far.

Similarly, a permit to stay in Latvia will be requested by those who have not sorted out the language check for justifiable reasons. Specific reasons are not considered in the draft law.

A temporary residence permit for a period of two years provides for the right of a Russian citizen to reside and work in Latvia and to receive the same free health services, benefits, and social services as the holder of a permanent residence permit.

On the other hand, those who do not apply for a temporary residence permit will soon receive orders to leave the country within 90 days.

The final decision could be taken by the Saeima on September 14. The vote in the Saeima will take place in two readings. Proposals are expected to be submitted to the second reading, which could still change the final amendment.

A total of 13,147 Russian citizens have registered for exams so far, while 11,301 have taken it. More than 6,500 persons have applied for re-examination.


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