Latvian citizens living in most foreign countries will soon be able to take out dual citizenship for the first time, after the country’s parliament passed a new citizenship law yesterday.
The new amendments mean that economic Latvian migrants and their descendants living in the European Union, NATO countries, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand will all be able to retain Latvian citizenship while also hanging on to their current citizenship.
However, the new dual citizenship bill excludes those living in either Russia or Israel – a measure which has angered Latvia’s small Russian speaking population.
The Citizenship Law amendments also cover Latvians who were exiled under the Nazi occupation of World War II and during the post-war Soviet occupation, which lasted until May 1990, when the Latvian Supreme Council declared the nation’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Recent economic turmoil in Latvia had seen around 37,000 citizens leave the country in 2011, the majority moving purely for work reasons, while between 2000 and 2011, over 213,000 Latvians of working age left the country –a worrying statistic given the country only has a 1.3 million working age population. The Latvian government is currently looking at way to entice some of the expats back ‘home’ and offering dual citizenship is seen as the first step in this ‘re-emigration’ process.
The new citizenship measures come into force on 1st October.
Latvia targets re-emigration of citizens (14th February 2013)