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Citizenship Act of Latvia

Latvia Law on Citizenship

Chapter One General Provisions

Terms Used in this Law

Alien - a citizen (national) of a foreign state.

Stateless person - a person who is not considered a citizen (national) in accordance with the laws of any state.

Dual citizenship - the holding by a person of citizenship (nationality) of more than one state.

Naturalization - admission to citizenship.

Descendants - descending kin in a direct line.

Non-citizen - a person who, in accordance with the Law On the Status of those Former U.S.S.R.

Citizens who do not have the Citizenship of Latvia or that of any Other State, has the right to a non citizen passport issued by the Republic of Latvia.

[22 June 1998]

Section 1. Latvian Citizenship

(1) Latvian citizenship is the enduring legal connection of a person with the State of Latvia.

(2) The content of Latvian citizenship is formed by the entirety of mutually related rights and obligations between citizen and State.

Section 2. The Holding of Latvian Citizenship

Latvian citizens are:

1) persons who were Latvian citizens on 17 June 1940, and their descendants who have registered in accordance with the procedures set out in law, except persons who have acquired the citizenship (nationality) of another state after 4 May 1990;

1.1) Latvians and Livs whose permanent place of residence is Latvia, who have registered in accordance with the procedures set out in law and who do not have citizenship (nationality) of another state, or who have received an expatriation permit from the state of their former citizenship (nationality), if such permit is provided for by the laws of that state;

1.2) women, whose permanent place of residence is Latvia and who, in accordance with Section 7 of the “Law on Nationality” of the Republic of Latvia, 23 August 1919, had lost their Latvian citizenship (nationality) and their descendants, if these persons have registered in accordance with the procedures set out in law, except for persons who have acquired the citizenship (nationality) of another state after 4 May 1990;

1.3) persons whose permanent place of residence is Latvia, who have registered in accordance with the procedures set out in law, and who have completed a full educational course in general education schools in which the language of instruction is Latvian, or in two stream general education schools, in the Latvian stream, having acquired a primary or general secondary education in these schools, if these persons do not have the citizenship (nationality) of another state, or if they have received an expatriation permit from the state of their former citizenship (nationality), if such permit is provided for by the laws of that state. Their minor children up to the age of fifteen who permanently reside in Latvia shall also acquire citizenship at the same time as these persons;

2) persons who have acquired Latvian citizenship by naturalization or otherwise in accordance with the procedures set out in law;

3) children who are found in the territory of Latvia and whose parents are unknown;

4) children who have no parents and who live in an orphanage or a boarding school in Latvia; and

5) children born of parents both of whom were citizens of Latvia at the time of such birth, irrespective of the place of birth of such children.

[16 March 1995; 6 February 1996; 22 June 1998]

Section 3. Citizenship of a Child if One Parent is a Latvian Citizen

(1) If, at the moment of the birth of the child, one of his or her parents is a Latvian citizen, but the other is an alien, the child shall be a Latvian citizen, if the child:

1) was born in Latvia; or

2) was born outside Latvia, but at the moment of the birth of the child, the permanent place of residence of the parents, or that parent with whom the child is living, was in Latvia.

(2) In the aforementioned cases, the parents may, having mutually agreed, choose the citizenship (nationality) of the other (not Latvian) state for their child.

(3) If, at the moment of the birth of the child, one of the parents is a Latvian citizen, but the other is an alien, and the permanent place of residence of both parents is outside Latvia, the parents shall determine the citizenship (nationality) of the child by mutual agreement.

(4) If, at the moment of the birth of the child, one parent is a Latvian citizen, but the other parent is a stateless person, or is unknown, the child shall be a Latvian citizen irrespective of the place of birth.

Section 3.1. Citizenship of a Child Born in Latvia after 21 August 1991 to Persons who are Stateless Persons or Non-citizens

(1) A child who is born in Latvia after 21 August 1991, shall be acknowledged as a Latvian citizen in accordance with the procedures set out in Paragraphs two or three of this Section, if he or she complies with all the following requirements:

1) his or her permanent place of residence is Latvia;

2) he or she has not been sentenced to more than five years imprisonment in Latvia or in any other state for committing a crime; and

3) he or she has, prior to that, been a stateless person or non-citizen for the entire time.

(2) Until the moment a child has reached the age of 15 years, an application for acquisition of citizenship may be submitted by:

1) both parents of a child, if they are registered in the Population Register and are stateless persons or non-citizens who have, until the time of submission of the application, been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than the preceding five years (for persons who arrived in Latvia after 1 July 1992, the five-year time period shall be calculated from the day a permanent residence permit is obtained);

2) the mother of a child, if she is registered in the Population Register and is a stateless person or a non-citizen who has, until the time of submission of the application, been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than the preceding five years (for persons who arrived in Latvia after 1 July 1992, the five-year time period shall be calculated from the day a permanent residence permit is obtained), and if there is no entry regarding the father in the birth record of the child, or such record has been made on the instructions of the mother;

3) one of the parents of a child, if the parent is registered in the Population Register and is a stateless person or non-citizen who has, until the time of submission of the application, been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than the preceding five years (for persons who arrived in Latvia after 1 July 1992, the five-year time period shall be calculated from the day a permanent residence permit is obtained), but the other parent of the child is deceased; or

4) the adopter of a child, if they are registered in the Population Register and are stateless persons or non-citizens who have, until the time of submission of the application, been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than the preceding five years (for persons who arrived in Latvia after 1 July 1992, the five-year time period shall be calculated from the day a permanent residence permit is obtained).

(3) If persons, who have the right to submit an application regarding the acknowledgement of a child as a citizen of Latvia, have not done so, a minor, upon attaining the age of 15 years, has the right to acquire Latvian citizenship in accordance with the procedures set out in this Section, by submitting one of the following documents:

1) a document which verifies that the minor has acquired specialized secondary education or vocational education (vocational secondary school, vocational gymnasium, vocational school) with Latvian as the language of instruction; or

2) a document which certifies, in accordance with the procedures set out in Sections 19 and 20 of this Law, that the minor is fluent in the Latvian language.

(4) Persons who have the right to submit an application regarding the acknowledgement of a child as a Latvian citizen, shall submit it in accordance with the procedures and form prescribed by the Cabinet, including in such application their certification that they will help the child master the Latvian language as the Official language, and acquire an education and will instill in the child a respect for and loyalty to the Republic of Latvia.

(5) The opportunities for acquiring citizenship provided by this Section may be utilized by a person until they attain the age of 18 years.

[22 June 1998]

Section 4. Equality of Latvian Citizens

Latvian citizens have equal rights and obligations irrespective of the manner in which they have acquired citizenship.

Section 5 The Right to Retain Latvian Citizenship after Marriage

(1) The marriage of a Latvian citizen to an alien or a stateless person, as well as the dissolution of such a marriage, does not effect a change in the citizenship of Latvian citizens.

(2) The citizenship of a spouse does not change upon acquisition or loss of Latvian citizenship by the other spouse.

Section 6. Retention of Latvian Citizenship by Persons Residing Outside the Territory of Latvia

Residence by Latvian citizens outside the territory of Latvia does not effect a loss of Latvian citizenship, except in cases provided for by this Law.

[22 June 1998]

Section 7. Protection of Latvian Citizens Abroad

Latvian citizens abroad are under the protection of the State of Latvia.

Section 8. Latvian Citizens not Permitted to be Extradited to Foreign States or Expelled from the State

(1) The Republic of Latvia shall not extradite its citizens to foreign states.

(2) Latvian citizens may not be expelled from Latvia.

Section 9. Dual Citizenship

(1) Dual citizenship may not be effected respecting a person who is admitted to Latvian citizenship.

(2) If a Latvian citizen may, in accordance with the laws of a foreign state, be simultaneously considered also a citizen (national) of that state, in legal relations with the Republic of Latvia they shall be considered solely as a Latvian citizen.

Chapter Two Regulations and Procedures for Naturalization

Section 10. The Right to Acquire Citizenship through Naturalization Procedures

A person may, upon his or her request, be admitted to Latvian citizenship through naturalization procedures.

Section 11. Restrictions on Naturalization

(1) Persons shall not be admitted to Latvian citizenship who:

1) have, by unconstitutional methods, acted against the independence of the Republic of Latvia, the democratic parliamentary structure of the State or the existing State power in Latvia, if such has been established by a judgment of a court;

2) after 4 May 1990, have propagated fascist, chauvinist, national-socialist, communist or other totalitarian ideas or incited ethnic or racial hatred or discord, if such has been established by a judgment of a court;

3) are officials of state power, administration or law-enforcement institutions of a foreign state;

4) serve in the armed forces, internal military forces, security service or police (militia) of some foreign state;

5) after 17 June 1940, have chosen the Republic of Latvia as their place of residence directly after demobilisation from the armed forces of the U.S.S.R. (Russia) or the internal military forces of the U.S.S.R. (Russia), and who did not, on the day of their conscription into service or enlistment, permanently reside in Latvia. This restriction shall not apply to persons specified in Section 13, Paragraph one, Clauses 6 and 7, and Paragraph five;

6) have been employees, informers, agents or safehouse keepers of the U.S.S.R. (L.S.S.R. [Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic]) K.G.B. [Komitet Gosudarstvenno Bezopasnosti (Committee of State Security)], or of the security service, intelligence service or other special service of some other foreign state, if this fact has been established in accordance with the procedures prescribed by law;

7) have been punished in Latvia or some other state for committing an offence which is also a crime in Latvia at the moment this Law comes into force; or

8) after 13 January 1991, have worked against the Republic of Latvia in the C.P.S.U. [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] (L.C.P. [Latvian Communist Party]), the Working People’s International Front of the Latvian S.S.R., the United Council of Labor Collectives, the Organisation of War and Labor Veterans, the All-Latvia Salvation of Society Committee or their regional committees or the Union of Communists of Latvia.

(2) If a person who has submitted an application for naturalization may be held criminally liable, or the verification procedure with regard to establishing the fact of co-operation with K.G.B. has been instituted regarding them, the examination of the application shall be stayed until a judgment of a court comes into effect or the case has been dismissed.

[16 March 1995; 22 June 1998]

Section 12. General Provisions for Naturalization

(1) Only those persons who are registered in the Population Register may be admitted to Latvian citizenship through naturalization procedures and:

1) whose permanent place of residence, as of the day of submission an application for naturalization, has been in Latvia for not less than five years calculated from 4 May 1990 (for persons who arrived in Latvia after 1 July 1992, the five-year period shall be calculated from the moment a permanent residence permit is obtained);

2) who are fluent in the Latvian language;

3) who know the basic principles of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and the Constitutional Law “Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person”;

4) who know the text of the National Anthem and the history of Latvia;

5) who have a legal source of income;

6) who have given a pledge of loyalty to the Republic of Latvia;

7) who have submitted a notice regarding the renunciation of their former citizenship (nationality) and have received an expatriation permit from the state of their former citizenship (nationality), if such permit is provided for by the laws of that state, or have received a document certifying the loss of citizenship (nationality), or, if they are citizens of the former U.S.S.R. whose permanent place of residence on 4 May 1990 was in Latvia, a certificate that they have not acquired the citizenship (nationality) of another state; and

8) who are not subject to the naturalization restrictions specified in Section 11 of this Law.

(2) Only those persons who meet all of the requirements set out in Paragraph one of this Section may be admitted to Latvian citizenship through naturalization procedures.

(3) The notice regarding renunciation of their former citizenship, expatriation permit or document certifying the loss of citizenship (nationality) shall be submitted after a person has been officially notified that there are no other impediments to their admission to Latvian citizenship.

(4) The procedure for testing knowledge of the basic principles of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and the Constitutional Law Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person, the text of the National Anthem and the history of Latvia shall be determined by regulations of the Cabinet.

(5) Upon submitting an application for naturalization, a person shall pay the State fee, in the amount specified by the Cabinet.

(6) Persons whose applications regarding matters of citizenship have been rejected, may resubmit them a year after the previous decision was taken.

[16 March 1995; 22 June 1998]

Section 13. Admission to Citizenship for Special Meritorious Service for the Benefit of Latvia

(1) A person who has rendered special meritorious service for the benefit of Latvia, but who does not have the right to naturalization in accordance with the general procedures provided for in this Law, may be admitted to Latvian citizenship by a decision of the Saeima which shall be published in the official newspaper. The provisions of Section 12 (except for Paragraph one, Clause 7) of this Law shall not apply to a person in regard to his or her admission to citizenship on the basis of special meritorious service for the benefit of Latvia.

(2) A person who wishes to be admitted to the citizenship of Latvia on the basis of special meritorious service for the benefit of Latvia shall submit to the Saeima an application for admission to citizenship. An autobiography of the person concerned and a notice stating that there are no facts which could evidence that any of the restrictions of Article 11 of this Law are applicable to this person shall be attached to the application.

[16 March 1995; 22 June 1998]

Section 14. General Procedures for Naturalization

(1) Applications by persons who have attained the age of fifteen years for admission to Latvian citizenship shall be examined in the order of their submission in accordance with the provisions of Sections 11 and 12 of this Law.

(2) If an applicant expresses a wish therefor, examination outside of the general order may be made of applications which have been submitted by:

1) Latvians and Livs who are repatriating to Latvia;

2) persons who, on 17 June 1940, were citizens of Lithuania or Estonia and the descendants of such persons, if these persons or their descendants have been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than five years as of the date of submission of the application for naturalization;

3) persons who, on 1 September 1939, were citizens of Poland and the descendants of such persons, if these persons or their descendants have been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than five years as of the date of submission of the application for naturalization; and

4) persons who have been married to a citizen of Latvia for not less than ten years and who have been permanently resident in Latvia for not less than five years as of the date of submission of the application for naturalization.

[22 June 1998]

Section 15. Naturalization of Children

(1) At the same time as the naturalized person, his or her minor children up to the age of 16 years who permanently reside in Latvia also acquire Latvian citizenship. This also applies to adopted children and children born outside of marriage. The provisions of Section 12 of this Law shall not be applied to minor children regarding their being admitted to Latvian citizenship.

(2) If one of the parents is naturalized in Latvia, but the other parent remains an alien, their minor child shall acquire Latvian citizenship if:

1) the parents agree regarding it; or

2) the parents have not attained agreement, but the permanent place of residence of the child is in Latvia.

(3) if a minor alien (stateless person) is adopted by a married couple, of whom one is a Latvian citizen, but the other is an alien, the child shall acquire Latvian citizenship if:

1) the adopters agree regarding it; or

2) the permanent place of residence of the child is in Latvia.

(4) In case of annulment of the adoption, the citizenship of the child may be changed.

[6 February 1997; 22 June 1998]

Section 16. Necessity of Receiving the Consent of a Minor to Change His or Her Citizenship

(1) The citizenship (nationality) of a minor from 14 years up to 18 years of age may be changed in accordance with the citizenship (nationality) of his or her parents (adopters) only with the written consent of the minor.

(2) If the citizenship (nationality) of a minor has been changed in accordance with the citizenship (nationality) of his or her parents (adopters) without the written consent of the minor, the minor has the right, within a year after his or her coming of age, to renew Latvian citizenship irrespective of the period of residence in Latvia.

(3) If a marriage has been entered into between a citizen of Latvia and an alien, and the child has acquired the citizenship (nationality) of a foreign state, then, upon coming of age, the condition of Section 12, Paragraph one, Clause 1, shall not apply to his or her naturalization.

Section 17. Procedures for the Receipt and Examination of Applications for Naturalization

(1) The Naturalization Board shall receive and examine applications for naturalization.

(2) The procedures for receiving and examining applications shall be determined by regulations of the Cabinet. Applications shall be examined and an answer given to the applicant not later than one year after the day all documents specified in the regulations of the Cabinet are submitted. A decision regarding admission to citizenship shall be taken by the Cabinet.

(3) A decision of the Naturalization Board regarding refusal of naturalization may be appealed to a court.

[16 March 1995; 6 February 1997]

Section 18. Pledge of Loyalty to the Republic of Latvia upon Acquiring Latvian Citizenship

All persons who are admitted to Latvian citizenship shall sign the following pledge regarding loyalty to the Republic of Latvia: “I, (given name, surname) born (place of birth, date of birth), pledge that I will be loyal only to the Republic of Latvia. I undertake to fulfill the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Latvia in good faith and with all vigour to protect them. I undertake, without regard to my life, to defend the independence of the State of Latvia and to live and work in good faith, in order to increase the prosperity of the State of Latvia and of the people.”

[16 March 1995]

Chapter Three Procedures for Testing Knowledge

[22 June 1998]

Section 19. Testing Fluency in the Latvian Language

Fluency in the Latvian language shall be tested in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Cabinet .

[22 June 1998]

Section 20. Level of Fluency in the Latvian Language

A person is fluent in the Latvian language if they:

1) completely understand information of a social and official nature;

2) can freely tell about, converse and answer questions regarding topics of a social nature;

3) can fluently read and understand any instructions, directions and other text of a social nature; and

4) can write an essay on a topic of a social nature given by the Commission.

[22 June 1998]

Section 21. Exemptions from the Testing of Knowledge

(1) Persons who have acquired primary, secondary or higher education in educational institutions in which the Latvian language is the language of instruction shall be exempt from the test for fluency in the Latvian language.

(2) The Cabinet shall prescribe special procedures for testing the knowledge of persons who have been declared disabled.

(3) The provisions of Section 20, paragraph four of this Law do not apply to persons who have attained the age of 65.

[16 March 1995; 22 June 1998]

Chapter Four Loss and Restoration of Latvian Citizenship

Section 22. Loss of Latvian Citizenship

The reason for loss of Latvian citizenship may be:

1) renunciation of citizenship; or

2) revocation of citizenship.

Section 23. Renunciation of Latvian Citizenship

(1) Any person who has the citizenship (nationality) of another state, or has been guaranteed the citizenship (nationality) of another state, has the right to renounce Latvian citizenship.

(2) An application to renounce citizenship may be denied if:

1) the person has unfulfilled obligations towards the State; or

2) the person has not fulfilled mandatory active military service obligations.

(3) A decision regarding denial of an application for renunciation may be appealed to a court.

[22 June 1998]

Section 24. Revocation of Latvian Citizenship

(1) Latvian citizenship may be revoked by a decision of a Regional Court, if a person:

1) has acquired the citizenship (nationality) of another state without submitting an application regarding renunciation of Latvian citizenship;

2) is serving in the armed forces, internal military forces, security service, police (militia), or is employed in a juridical institution, of a foreign state, without permission from the Cabinet; or

3) has knowingly provided false information about himself or herself when verifying a right to hold Latvian citizenship or during naturalization and, in that way, has obtained Latvian citizenship without there being a basis therefor.

(2) The revocation of Latvian citizenship shall not affect the citizenship of the spouse, children or other family members of such person.

[16 March 1995; 22 June 1998]

Section 25. Restoration of Latvian Citizenship

(1) Latvian citizenship of a person who has lost Latvian citizenship as a result of the choice made by his or her parents or adopters, legal error or an illegal revocation of citizenship may, at his or her request, be restored by a decision of the Cabinet.

(2) A person whose Latvian citizenship has been revoked in accordance with Section 24 of this Law, may be admitted to Latvian citizenship only in accordance with the naturalization procedure and not earlier than after five years of permanent residence in Latvia calculated from the day of revocation of Latvian citizenship.

Section 26. Documentation Procedures Regarding Loss and Restoration of Latvian Citizenship

Documentation procedures regarding loss and restoration of Latvian citizenship shall be determined by regulations of the Cabinet.

Chapter Five Final Provisions

Section 27. Personal Identification Documents Certifying Latvian Citizenship

The personal identification documents certifying Latvian citizenship are a passport of the Republic of Latvia, as well as a certificate issued by diplomatic or consular offices of the Republic of Latvia.

Section 28. Application of International Agreements

If an international agreement which has been ratified by the Saeima sets out provisions other than those contained in this Law, the provisions of the international agreement are applicable.

Section 29. Monitoring Compliance with the Citizenship Law

Parliamentary monitoring of compliance with the Citizenship Law shall be carried out by a special committee of the Saeima.

Transitional provisions

1. Citizens of Latvia and their descendants who, during the period from 17 June 1940 to 4 May 1990, left Latvia as refugees, in order to escape the terror of the occupation regimes of the U.S.S.R. and Germany, were deported, or due to the aforesaid reasons have not been able to return to Latvia and have become naturalized during this time in a foreign state, retain their right to register in the Population Register as citizens of Latvia, and after registration shall, to the full extent, enjoy the rights of citizens and fulfill the obligations of citizens, if registration occurs by 1 July 1995. If such persons register after 1 July 1995, they shall renounce the citizenship (nationality) of the foreign state.

2. The provisions of Section 24, Paragraph two of this Law do not apply to those citizens of Latvia who have dual citizenship, if their permanent place of residence is outside the territory of Latvia.

3. Persons who had, by the moment this Law came into force, been registered or had applied to be registered as citizens of Latvia in accordance with paragraph 3.2. of the 15 October 1991 Republic of Latvia Supreme Council Resolution On the Renewal of the Rights of Citizens of the Republic of Latvia and the Fundamental Provisions for Naturalization (Latvijas Republikas Augstākās Padomes un Valdības ZiĦotājs, 1991, No. 43) and the 28 October 1992 Resolution On the Conditions for the Recognition of the Rights of Citizens of the Republic of Latvia Regarding Persons who were Resident within the Borders of Latvia before 1 August 1914, and their Descendants (Latvijas Republikas Augstākās Padomes un Valdības ZiĦotājs, 1992, No. 46/47/48), are declared citizens of Latvia, and their registration may not be annulled, except in the cases provided for by this Law.

This Law has been adopted by the Saeima on 22 June 1994

Transitional Provisions Regarding Amendments to the Citizenship Law

Transitional Provision (regarding amending law of 16 March 1995)

The State fee paid by persons who conform to the categories specified in Section 2, Paragraphs 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 for examination of a naturalization application, shall be reimbursed to them.

Transitional Provisions (regarding amending law of 22 June 1998)

1. Section 3.1 of the Citizenship Law shall come into force on 1 January 1999.

2. Amendments effected by this Law to Section 20, Clause 4 and Section 21, Paragraph two of the Citizenship Law shall come into force on 1 September 1998.

3. The naturalization of persons which was commenced on the basis of the conditions specified in Section 13 of the Citizenship Law (as was in force prior to the law of 22 June 1998) regarding extraordinary naturalization shall be continued in accordance with the previous procedures.