81 deputies voted in favor of the draft law at first reading, while 13 deputies voted against it. Three Members did not take part in the vote, one abstained.
The Saeima will take a final decision on September 14.
According to the planned changes, residents of Latvia with Russian passports will be able to request permission to stay in Latvia, while committing to learn the official language during the term of validity of the permit. This will apply to those Russian citizens who already taken a language test but have failed. That's 60% of all takers so far.
Those who have not taken a language examination for valid reasons (not listed specifically) will also be able to request permission to reside in Latvia.
It is foreseen that the application for a residence permit will have to be submitted to the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) by March 30, 2024 at the latest.
Most skeptical opinions in the Saeima came from the National Alliance faction, which also voted against the amendments.
A temporary residence permit for two years would provide a Russian citizen with the right to reside and work in Latvia and receive the same free health care services, benefits, and social services as are provided for the holder of a permanent residence permit.
The current version of the Immigration Law provides that permanent residence permits issued to Russian citizens will expire in September this year. Those who do not apply for a temporary residence permit will soon receive orders to leave the country within 90 days.