Constitutional Court to review dual citizenship case in April

Latvia’s prohibition against dual citizenship will be reviewed by the nation’s Constitutional Court on April 13 in a case that could have meaning for many Latvians in the diaspora.

The case involves a family in Germany who was told by Latvian officials they would have to first renounce their German citizenship before they could register as citizens of Latvia. The Constitutional Court will have until May 13 to rule on the constitutionality of transitional rules in Latvia’s citizenship law, spokeswoman Līna Kovalevska told Latvians Online in an e-mail.

Baiba Lapiņa-Strunska and Viktors Strunskis and their daughter Rauna argued that they understood they already were Latvian citizens based on passports issued to them by Latvian legations in exile. But when they asked the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde) in Rīga for new Latvian passports, they were told that they could not be dual citizens.

After Latvia regained independence in 1991, the government allowed pre-World War II citizens and their descendants to renew their Latvian citizenship without giving up the citizenship of their home countries. However, the offer came with a July 1995 deadline.

Lapiņa-Strunska and Strunskis sued the Latvian government. By last summer, their case had landed in the Supreme Court. That court has yet to rule on the case, but justices in August said the 1995 deadline and the restrictions on dual citizenship, in their opinion, are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court asked the Constitutional Court to look into the matter.

The Constitutional Court had expected to have preparations in the case completed by Dec. 23, but extended its deadline until Feb. 23. The case now is ready, Kovalevska said, and will be reviewed in writing on April 13. Justices will have up to 30 days in which to issue their ruling, or until May 13.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

7 thoughts on “Constitutional Court to review dual citizenship case in April

  1. On the one hand, Latvian’s born abroad (such as myself) would have the possibility to live and work or study (including the Latvian language) in Latvia due a change in the law.
    On the otherhand I think the fear is that people will abuse the system in order to enter the EU (via Latvia), or if they were born in poorer countries (former Soviet nations) that they might wish to abuse the system in Latvia. However, the purpose of renaturalisation is to bring Latvian’s back to Latvia regardless or where the diaspora has brought them or their grandparents, thus enriching the country.

  2. The law was passed immediately after independence and well before EU issues. Latvain law does not allow for dual citizenship but an exception was made for diaspora Latvians to, hopefully, ensure a majority vote on national issues at a time when independence was still far from certain and diaspora Latvinas may not have requested citizenship if it meant giving up the citizenship of their adopted countries. A time limit was placed, reasoning that this would provide ample opportunity for those who wished to renew their citizenship. Frankly, I think the limit makes sense. If someone is loyal to a country, why wait 18 years to be a citizen and, if localy born Latvians may not have dual citizenship, why should Latvinas living abroad be in a privileged situation?

  3. I am proud of my Latvian heritage and would gladly give up my british citizenship, I am a Latvian passport holder through my father and as soon as my children have grown and are able to make their own way in this world I will be leaving britain to live in Latvija.

  4. Some of us worked jobs that would risk/compromise our high level clearences with dual citizenship. Once I retired, that was no longer a problem but that was long after 1995. My parents were Latvian citizens and I was born in Latvia. Frankly, for some of us the limit made no sense.

  5. I too was born in Latvia and left with my parent/mother in 1944. Living in USA, those of us that did not hear or read about the cut of in 1995, missed out getting the dual citizenship. Hopefully Latvia will again allow those of us born there to get our citizenship back, I am getting very old and would like to hold a piece of paper that I am also a citizen of my birth country.

  6. Latvians irregardless of current nationality (Russia or Poorer States) are Latvians and ought to be treated equally and on the level. Dual citizenship will give opportunities for Latvia to grow immensely, given the current “Brain Drain” out of the country to countries like Ireland. Latvia has a lot to offer, our politicians are unfortunately put their interests before interests of Citizens, I am for one, at times ashamed at some of the decisions from Saeima.

  7. Need help. My children are Latvian and I am British. I want to apply British nationalty without loos their Latvian nationality. Some one told me my children can have dual nationality untill age of 16yrs. Is this correct. Plz let me know. I thank you for your help.

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