83 parliamentarians voted in favor of the draft law in the second, final reading, while nine Saeima deputies from the “For Stability!” faction voted against it.
Until now, a permanent residence permit has been granted to a repatriate (a descendant of Livonian or Latvian heritage who is a third-country citizen) and their family members, allowing permanent residence in Latvia, traveling freely in the Schengen area, receiving health services and other social guarantees, without proving in advance that the person actually resides in Latvia or the knowledge of the official language.
However, from July 1 this year, returnees and their family members will be granted a registration certificate or a temporary residence permit valid for a period of five years. A permanent residence permit will be granted if, during this five-year period, the person has been resident continuously in Latvia and has acquired the official language to at least at A2 level.
Repatriates – both Latvian citizens and third-country citizens – will be able to benefit from the support measures provided for in the Diaspora Law.
However, as of January 1 2024, persons will no longer be granted repatriated status. In the future, citizen of third countries of Latvian or Livonian origin and their family members will have the right to request a temporary residence permit for a period of five years in accordance with the procedures specified in the Immigration Law. The immigration law does not allow such a broad list of family members' categories as the Repatriation Law, the Ministry of Interior has indicated.
The aim of the changes, as previously indicated by the Ministry of Interior, is to reduce the threat to Latvia's internal security by limiting the flow of persons to Latvia whose entry does not correspond to the basic idea contained in the preamble of the Repatriation Law - to encourage the return of nationals who have traveled from Latvia due to the threat of genocide, war or assimilation.
Both before and particularly after Russia launched a war against Ukraine, the interest of Russian citizens in exiting Russia increased to move to a permanent life in Latvia. However, despite the various mechanisms that temporarily prevented Russian citizens from entering and staying in Latvia, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the number of applications for residence permits, particularly from Russian citizens - returnees, was increasing, the Ministry of Interior said.