September 01, 2012
Amendments to Latvia’s citizenship law that include allowing dual citizenship for a broad range of individuals should take effect Jan. 1, the Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee has suggested.
The committee on Aug. 28 signed off on the amendments as the legislation heads for a second reading in the full parliament, according to the Saeima Press Service. Only after a third reading and the president’s signature would the amendments become law.
The committee accepted the amendments to the law as developed so far by its Citizenship Law Amendments Subcommittee (Pilsonības likuma grozījumu apakškomisija), which has been tasked with debating necessary changes to the law and, specifically, amendments outlined in legislation (Nr. 52/Lp11) first proposed last year toward the end of the 10th Saeima’s mandate.
Most of the amendments are aimed at the tens of thousands of recent emigrants from Latvia as well as residents of Latvia who are not yet citizens. But specific sections would affect pre-World War II exiles and their families.
Among revisions to the amendments approved by the Legal Affairs Committee is clarification that descendants of exiles down to the fourth generation could apply for Latvian citizenship. The original language of the legislation did not set a generational limit. The language was recommended by the National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai! - Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”).
However, the committee rejected a National Alliance proposal to add Latvians who hold Australian or Brazilian citizenship to the list of those who could qualify for dual citizenship. Instead, the committee approved language that would allow dual citizenship for those who have citizenship in a member state of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, or the NATO defense alliance; who are citizens of a country with which Latvia has a treaty recognizing dual citizenship; who receive approval from the Cabinet of Ministers; or who became a citizen of another country through marriage or adoption.
Members of the committee agreed that the revised law, as well as regulations that would need to be developed by the Cabinet of Ministers, should take effect Jan. 1, according to the press service.
The Saeima comes back into session on Sept. 4. The Legal Affairs Committee has offered a Sept. 20 deadline for revisions to the amendments before the legislation is taken up for its third and final reading.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.