About 3,600 Russians could leave Latvia soon, says Maira Roze of Latvia’s Citizenship Office. She spoke on TV3 recently.
Latvia’s parliament made a law change on August 14. This change lets 8,700 Russians stay for two more years to learn Latvian.
Before this law, failing the Latvian language test would cost Russians their residency by September 1.
The new rule helps around 6,700 Russians who want to retake the language exam.
Most of these people have lived in Latvia for a long time. Some chose Russian citizenship for personal or financial gains.
For example, women could get Russian pensions at age 55.
Roze also said these Russians can apply for residency again within 90 days. But they will face the same rules as other Russians.
It’s unclear how many Russians really live in Latvia. About 25,000 Russians have some residency permit in Latvia.
In August, sociologist Ojārs Skudra noted that the exact number of Russians in Latvia is unknown. He spoke to local media about this.
Latvia once offered residency permits to big investors in 2010. This attracted mainly Russian nationals. The program is no longer active.
Latvia joined the European Union in 2004. This made it a more attractive destination for non-EU nationals.
Since joining, Latvia faced several immigration challenges. One such challenge is the balance between welcoming talent and security concerns.
Latvia and Russia share a complex history. During the Soviet era, many Russians moved to Latvia.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Latvia became independent. This changed the citizenship status of many Russians in the country.
Many Russians had to go through naturalization. This includes passing a Latvian language test. Language has been a sensitive issue in Latvia for years.
The country aims to protect its native tongue.