Russians start taking Latvian language exams

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Upon failure to pass Latvian exams, Russian citizens are in danger of being expelled as of December 2, according to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP). On Tuesday, official language tests for Russian citizens began, Latvian Radio reported April 11.

The duty of Russian citizens who live in Latvia to successfully pass the Latvian language examination was imposed by the Saeima last year, amending the Immigration Law.

On Tuesday, the first language tests began. Those who have already taken it say the questions are not that difficult.

Latvian Radio addressed the 65-year-old Galina. She said: "I'll say something, something I know. Everybody said to me – just speak, right or wrong! Just talk."

Galina arrived in Latvia in 1987 and married here, then worked as a cashier in Rīga for 26 years. She took Russian citizenship in 2014 so she could get the Russian pension which was granted upon reaching the age of 55. Due to heart disease she was not able to work longer. She is now living on a €100 Russian pension and €200 in Latvia. Her husband is dead, she could not have children because of her health, and no one in Russia is waiting for her, either.

“To renounce Russian citizenship, you need to pay a lot of money. To apply for Latvian citizenship, you need money again,” Galina said.

Russian citizens had to register for tests from February 1 to March 24. The process is being conducted by the National Educational Content Centre (VISC), whose representative Liene Bērziņa said that on Tuesday 270 Russian citizens took the exam in Rīga, while by May 20 in Rīga the test would be taken by 5,531, in Daugavpils 1,751; and in Liepāja 1,029. They will receive the results on the seventh working day following the exam.

Those who have applied for the exam have a guarantee of obtaining a statement of knowledge of the official language. A special exam campaign will not be held by VISC for a second time. In order to stay in Latvia, those who have not yet applied must find a way to pass the language exam in the regular order, said Bērziņa.

Meanwhile, the Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office's head of public relations, Madara Puķe, said the exam procedure must be started by September 1.

“If this application is not submitted before September 1, the person's residence permit will expire and they will have to leave by December 2. Then [if the person does not leave] it is a matter of border guards, and leaving the country forcibly," said Puķe.

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