Is it necessary for Russian citizens holding a permanent residence permit in Latvia to take an exam in the Latvian language?

07.12.2022 Karina Katz, lawyer

It is necessary, but not for everyone. On September 24, 2022, amendments to the Immigration Law came into force, providing that Russian citizens who wish to maintain a permanent residence permit in Latvia must submit to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) a document confirming knowledge of the state language at a level not lower than the 2nd basic (A2).

These amendments apply only to those who at one point renounced the status of a citizen or non-citizen of Latvia, choosing Russian citizenship instead, and at the same time continue to live in Latvia on the basis of a permanent residence permit (i.e. in accordance with paragraph 8 of the first part of Article 24 of the Immigration Law). Now, in order to maintain this status, it will be necessary to take an exam for knowledge of the Latvian language.

If the exam is not passed by September 1, 2023 and, accordingly, a new permanent residence permit is not obtained, all currently valid permanent residence cards issued to Russian citizens on the basis of the above-mentioned article of the law will be invalidated (regardless of the expiration date indicated on the card).

However, the law provides for some exceptions to this rule. According to the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 157 “On the scope of knowledge of the state language and the procedure for checking knowledge of the state language”, the following categories of people are exempted from passing the test for knowledge of the state language:

• persons who have received basic, secondary or higher education in accredited programs in the Latvian language (which is confirmed, for example, by a diploma, certificate, certificate, certificate from an educational institution);

• persons who have been trained in an accredited national minority education program and passed a centralized Latvian language examination in the 9th or 12th grade (this must be confirmed by a certificate of basic or secondary education);

• persons under 15 years of age;

• persons over 75;

• persons who have successfully passed the examination for the Latvian language bachelor’s degree at a European school approved by the Ministry of Education and Science;

• persons who have functional limitations related to the state of health, or a diagnosis specified in the 2nd annex to the above Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers (a certificate from a rehabilitation doctor is required).

It is important to note that all Latvian language proficiency certificates issued before 31 January 2001 are invalid. Accordingly, certificates of passing the centralized examination in Latvian in the 9th and 12th grades, which can be used for exemption from additional testing, must be issued no earlier than 31 January 2001.

Recent News