'Non-citizens' now need UK transit visas

Changes to UK immigration laws mean that any Latvian 'non-citizens' travelling via UK airports now need transit visas, newswire BNS reported Wednesday, citing information from Riga International Airport.

Latvia currently has just under 300,000 residents classed as 'non-citizens'.

Mainly Soviet-era immigrants and their descendants, non citizens have the opportunity to become full citizens after taking citizenship tests which include a requirement to speak basic Latvian.

Some non-citizens are simply not interested in obtaining full Latvian citizenship or object to the principle of having to undergo a test. 

Remaining a non-citizen means restrictions apply on the right to vote and the right to hold jobs in the public sector.

Russia regularly complains about the status of non citizens in both Latvia and Estonia as the majority of them are ethnically Russian. However, they are not Russian citizens. 

The changes came into effect on December 1 and anyone affected is advised to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Office of Citizenship and Migration for more details.

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