Kozlovskis: Unknown how many Russians will have to be forcibly expelled

On Wednesday, January 3, 1,213 Russian citizens' permanent residence permits expire, so they might be expelled from Latvia. How many people will actually have to be forced to leave cannot be said at the moment, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis told Latvian Radio.

In January, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) will send these Russian citizens an informative letter regarding the time for departure and information that during this period there is still an opportunity to request documents for the receipt of a residence permit if there is a legal basis for it.

Kozlovskis noted that it is first necessary to understand whether some of these persons have already left the country.

“One would be to travel through the external border from Latvia to third countries, which we can detect. Another question is whether these people have the opportunity to stay in another European Union country, the Schengen area,“ the minister said, adding that Latvia does not intend to restore full control at the border with other Schengen area countries because of these Russian citizens.

Kozlovskis said it would be important to send an information letter about the time and possibilities for leaving to the address of the last declared place of residence. “The State Border Guard also continues immigration controls,” the minister said.  “It's going to be a work process that's associated with a lot of uncertainty for now,“ Kozlovskis said.

Those Russian citizens who have justified reasons not to take the Latvian language test may submit documents for the residence permit until March 31, 2024. Permission to stay in Latvia will be granted for two years. Serious health reasons or other reasons independent of the will and conduct of the person may be considered exculpatory reasons.

Madara Puķe, representative of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, previously stated that even the 1,213 theoretical deportees still have a chance to stay in Latvia.

"These people will have to provide a written explanation of the reasons for not leaving and the possible time of departure, and then the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs will prepare departure orders, which will require them to leave the country within 30 days. This is a legal requirement that they will have to carry out themselves willingly," said Puķe.

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