Court says requirement for Russians to take Latvian exam is fine

The Constitutional Court has concluded that the rule requiring Russian citizens to certify their basic knowledge of the Latvian language to be able to stay in Latvia long-term conforms to the Constitution, the court announced February 15.

The Constitutional Court assessed amendments to the Immigration Law adopted in autumn 2022, which stipulated that for a Russian citizen who was previously a citizen or non-citizen of Latvia and received a permanent residence permit in simplified procedures, the permit would remain valid only until September 1, 2023. If they wished  to receive a permanent residence permit again, he or she had to submit a certification regarding the acquisition of the official language at least A2 (conversational language) level.

Those who have not certified their language skills and are not exempted (due to health, old age, or having a Latvian-language education) must by law now leave the country. 

The Court concluded that the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of the official language at level A2, which requires nothing more than the ability to communicate on simple everyday matters, was proportionate.

The application was submitted to the Constitutional Court by Russian citizens who were granted permanent residence permits.

The applicants considered that they were placed in an unequal situation with other former Latvian citizens and non-citizens who had obtained permanent residence permits. They also took the view that depriving them of the permit infringed their right to respect for private life and the principle of the protection of legitimate expectations.

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