March 3, 2018
Finding of facts in matters of Latvian citizenship
Application for Latvian citizenship must be substantiated with many documents confirming certain facts such as, for example, kinship between the applicant and his/her Latvian ancestors, facts of holding Latvian citizenship by the ancestors prior to 1940, facts of ancestors’ residence in the territory of Latvia in 1881 or later, etc. Considering how old these records are and the circumstances under which people have fled Latvia it is no surprise that some records are missing or were destroyed during war time, or simply contain contradictory information.
Very common is difference in the vital records about oneself. For instance, in pre-war archive records a person’s date of birth is different as compared to the documents issued after the war, or a person has changed his/her name (without any records to be found of the legal change) while in evacuation during war time at another country, etc. All these differences in the records or undocumented changes may lead to the refusal of Latvian citizenship application.
In our practice, we deal with such cases on a regular basis. For example, our client applied for Latvian citizenship on the grounds that his father used to hold Latvian citizenship prior to 1940 and fled Latvia due to occupation regime. Formally our client was eligible for Latvian citizenship, but his father’s date of birth specified in the pre-war documents was different from the birth date specified in the documents that confirmed kinship between the client and his father. Even though it was obvious that the above documents mention one and the same person, the OCMA treated the documents as if they relate to two different persons due to difference in the birth dates, and eventually refused the citizenship application. Only in the court could we establish that the above documents in fact relate to one and the same person.
Appealing against the decision of the OCMA
So, what to do if your application for Latvian citizenship has been refused due to inaccuracies in the submitted documents or incorrect interpretation and application of the Citizenship law?
According to Latvian laws, the decision of the OCMA can be disputed to the head of OCMA, and then appealed to the court. The application for disputing of the OCMA decision may be lodged within 1 month after entry into force thereof. If the head of OCMA did not change the decision, then it can be appealed to the court within 1 month.
Initiation of the appellate procedure makes it possible for the client to establish certain facts in the court and prove the eligibility for Latvian citizenship. If the documents submitted to the OCMA along with the application contain inaccurate information, the facts required for successful application may be established by the court on the ground of the existing indirect evidences, witness statements, etc. The same relates to the cases concerning Citizenship law interpretation: the applicant gets the chance to argue his/her case in the court and prove that interpretation of the Citizenship law given by the OCMA is incorrect.
Therefore, even if the citizenship application is refused, there is a chance to confirm eligibility in the court by means of appealing the decision of the OCMA.