18,000 extra Latvian language tests for Russians planned by September

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Members of the Saeima's Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee on Wednesday, January 18 addressed plans to make thousands of Russian citizens residing in Latvia sit Latvian language tests if they wish to retain their permanent residence permits, the Saeima press service reported.

Liene Voronenko, the head of the State Educational Content Center, informed the Committee about the plan for a large number of state language proficiency tests to be conducted this year. The plan takes into account that Russian citizens who were previously citizens or non-citizens of Latvia before acquiring Russian citizenship must submit a certificate of proficiency in the only state language in Latvia – Latvian – by September 1, 2023, in order to receive a permanent residence permit again.

Deputies emphasized at the meeting that people who want to receive a permanent residence permit will have to pass the relevant tests, and there is no possibility that they can defer or bypass the requirement. 

"Passing the language skills test is an opportunity for these people to prove their desire to live in our country, [with] respect for this country," said commission chairman Ingmārs Līdaka. "The main thing is that the exams run smoothly and correctly, and the information provided by the State Education Content Center assures that we are technically capable of conducting this process appropriately."

However, as previously reported by LSM, officials face a major logistical challenge to be completed in a little more than seven months. 

The representative of the State Educational Content Center noted to the deputies that according to the center's estimates, almost 18 thousand people would need to take the test by September 1, on top of around 5,000 taking the test annually as part of the long-established naturalization process. It is planned that tests will be carried out in Latvia's three largest cities: Rīga, Liepāja and Daugavpils.

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