July 24, 2014
Every person holding the nationality of a Member State (EU) shall be a citizen of the European Union (Article 20 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). Citizen of the Union is vested with all rights provided for in EU legal acts, e.g. the right to freely reside, live and work in any Member State of the Union and Schengen Area, i.e. more than 30 countries.
For that reason obtaining Latvian citizenship as second citizenship has become even more attractive. Such opportunity is now available due to recent amendments in the laws of Latvia. It shall be noted, however, that dual citizenship is subject to certain eligibility requirements described below.
Prior to the above amendments Citizenship law of Latvia denied occurrence of dual citizenship to a person who was being admitted to Latvian citizenship (except for cases where a dual citizenship was granted to a newborn*). Therefore, upon applying for Latvian passport one had previously had to renounce his/her current citizenship without distinction being made as to which country such person comes from. Not all were satisfied with such regulation — persons eligible for Latvian passport weren't always ready to renounce citizenship of their home country.
The situation has changed, however. Due to amendments in the Citizenship Law of Latvia, which entered into force as of 1 October 2013, eligible persons, upon meeting the qualifying requirements, now have the opportunity to be admitted to Latvian citizenship yet keeping their current passport.
Pursuant to the Latvian laws in force dual citizenship may be granted to:
- Persons, who were Latvian citizens on 17 June 1940 or their descendants born before 1 October 2014;
- Persons, who have certified: a) their belonging to the Latvian (applicant is Latvian or Liv); b) their fluency in Latvian language; c) and that in 1881 or later their ancestor had been permanently living in the territory of Latvia as it existed until 17 June 1940;
- Persons, who are admitted to Latvian citizenship through naturalisation, if they are citizens of another Member State of the European Union, Member State of the European Free Trade Association, Member State of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, New Zealand or citizens of such country with which the Republic of Latvia has entered into an agreement regarding recognition of dual citizenship.
Persons of third category will normally have the right to undergo naturalisation after 5 years of permanent residence in Latvia. Therefore, dual citizenship might be of more interest to those of first category above, i.e. persons who were Latvian citizens on 17 June 1940 (or their descendants) but left Latvia during time period from 17 June 1940 till 4 May 1990 as a result of occupation regimes, or have been deported. Descendants of such persons have the right to renew their ties with the Republic of Latvia right away and enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship.
* — Prior to the amendments in the Citizenship law dual citizenship could occur in certain cases only to newborns, e.g. in the event of coincidence of "jus soli" principle for determination of citizenship ("right of the soil" — a child is admitted to a citizenship of a country of their birth) and "jus sanguinis" principle ("right of the blood" - a child is granted citizenship of their parents).