Permanent residence permits for 'non-citizens' (nepilsoņi, i.e, former Soviet Union residents without the citizenship of Latvia or any other state) and citizens of the Russian Federation who have previously held Latvian citizenship will be extended in 2023 only if they have confirmed their basic knowledge of Latvian language, in accordance with amendments to the immigration law adopted in the autumn. Some 25,000 people might have to do the test.
These people will not have to pass the test if they are younger than 15, older than 75, have obtained education in Latvian or have medical issues. In case of severe mental illness, they will not have to pass the test. But at the end of the year, the psychiatrists were approached by people who wanted to obtain such a statement without any justification.
“If these are our patients who we have treated, we know them. But there were also individual patients who came to visit, but absolutely did not comply with this diagnosis and had no chance of receiving such passes,” said Māris Taube, head of the outpatient center 'Veldre'.
Psychiatrists explain that diagnosis is only determined after long exams, magnetic resonance and psychodiagnostics. “These are serious diagnoses – dementia, schizophrenia, severe mental disabilities. They are serious diseases, they cannot be simulated or pretended. A deep investigation is carried out before we set up a diagnosis. It will never be one conversation,” Taube said.
Sandra Pūce, Chair of the Board of the Riga Psychiatric and Narcology Center, said: “These are not neuroses, vegetative disorders or burnout, but severe psychiatric diagnoses where patients are really to be exempted from this exam.”
A statement on exemption costs between €25 and €55. For doctors, it's an extra load, and not everyone is prepared to accept those who apply. Rīga psychiatrists will start examining their applications in the middle of the month. All opinions will be closely monitored and their validity can be verified at any time by the Health Inspectorate.
The residency requirements of other third-country nationals are unaffected. Full details of current rules and regulations are available at the PMLP website and from their numerous offices across the country: https://www.pmlp.gov.lv/en.