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Russian citizens' expulsion from Latvia begins

The process of expelling 985 citizens of the Russian Federation who have not complied with the requirements of the Immigration Law – those who have not taken the official language test and have not applied for another type of residence permit –  has started, Latvian Television reported on January 18.

Letters have been sent to these people asking them to leave within two weeks or to arrange their legal status in Latvia.

“We then send information to the State Border Guard so that they survey their last declared place of residence - if the person is staying there or not,” explained Maira Roze, chief of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP).

If a person is not there, “then they will ask neighbors, but, yes, we then believe they have gone, [for example] through Estonia.” Conversely, if a person is in their declared place of residence, “in that case the person will receive an exit order,” Roze said.

Such a process will also be launched in April against those citizens of the Russian Federation who have at least tried to take the Latvian language test but failed. They may apply for a two-year temporary residence permit and take the Latvian language examination later, but at least until now approximately 2,500 people have not submitted the necessary documents to the Office and the requirements of the law are ignored. They still have time to sort out the documents.

Citizens of the Russian Federation who have so far not done anything can also apply for another type of residence permit, such as marriage or family reunification.

“We're only talking about a voluntary departure right now. This means that any person must be given the right to leave voluntarily from the outset. Except in the interests of national security. If a person does nothing and does not appeal, there can also be [expulsion] under duress,“ Roze said.

Currently, the forced expulsion decision has been taken against two citizens of the Russian Federation.

But most of the Russian citizens have arranged their status – some by passing a language test, some by applying for another type of stay, others by leaving.

“There will certainly be forcible expulsion. How many people? Dozens or hundreds? Let's see in practice. It's not going to happen overnight. [..] I suppose part hopes someone will solve that issue for them,” said the Chairman of the Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee of the Saeima Gunārs Kūtris on Wednesday, January 17.

The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs presumes that some of these 985 Russian citizens to be deported may already have left Latvia.

The Border Guard has information about those people who leave Latvia when crossing the Russian or Belarusian border, but it is not known about those who have chosen to exit, for example, through Estonia.

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