Thousands of Russians may be asked to leave Latvia from September

It is possible that several thousands of Russian citizens living in Latvia may have to leave Latvia in the near future because they have not done anything to extend their residence permit status, as is required by law. 

This follows from a statement of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), which will start sending out invitations to leave the country from mid-September, reports Latvian Radio.

Currently, the law stipulates that permanent residence permits issued to Russian citizens will expire on September 1 of this year. 

"On 2 September 2023 all permanent residence permits issued to the citizens of the Russian Federation in accordance with Section 24, Paragraph one, Clause 8 of the Immigration Law, will become void," says the PMLP.

"If the application will not be received by 1 September 2023, the permanent residence permit will expire from 2 September 2023 and you will have to leave the territory of the Republic of Latvia by 2 December 2023," it adds.

In order to continue living in Latvia legally, Russian citizens they must apply for permanent resident status. To qualify, they must submit a certificate of knowledge of the national language at A2 [basic] level to PMLP.

Thousands of Russian passport holders have already sat the test, as previously reported by LSM. Some have passed and are consequently eligible to receive residence permits. Those that have failed are given another chance at a later date, during which time their permits are extended.

Certain people are exempt from the need to pass the test, such as those over the age of 75 years or under the age of 15, and those with a certified health condition.

But a third class of Russian citizens living in Latvia also exists – those who have done nothing to ensure their continued right to reside in the country.

There are currently around 25,000 Russian citizens living in Latvia. According to the latest PMLP data, it is known that just over half of that number or 13,000 have submitted documents to receive a residence permit, and the number is still increasing every day. Another 4,500 people have taken but not passed the language test, and have applied for a repeat test, which will take place at the end of autumn. So, 17,500 Russian citizens are accounted for, which potentially leaves about 7,500 who are not, though the actual figure is expected to be known only in mid-September.

PMLP chief Maira Roze urged those in such a position to take action, as the consequences of ignoring the legal requirements will be serious.

"It will be their choice – to live a very difficult life – because they won't have [free] medical care, they won't have social care, they won't be able to work. Basically, they will be outside the law. They have to make a decision, either to go or to retain the right to receive a temporary residence permit," said Roze.

Meanwhile, policymakers are scrambling to come up with a way of dealing with the prospect of potentially having thousands of illegal residents inside the country almost overnight. Last week, the government instructed the Ministry of the Interior to prepare amendments to the Immigration Law , which would provide up to two more years of breathing space for Russian citizens living in Latvia to pass the Latvian language test. The amendments are due to be submitted this week.

Some parts of society are strongly against granting additional time to Russian citizens in Latvia. The public initiative portal "" has started collecting signatures demanding the extension amendments be dropped.

As things currently stand, Russian citizens could in theory be deported back to their country of citizenship from December 2. However, it seems likely that legal changes of one sort or another will be enacted before that date.

Further information is available in English at the PMLP website: 

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