Dual citizenship proposal moves forward

A proposal to once again allow World War II exiles and their descendants to become dual citizens of Latvia and of their host country is under consideration by the Latvian government, while a left-leaning political party is urging a wider reform of the country’s citizenship law.

The proposed legislation, which eventually would have to be approved by the Saeima, was put forward a month ago by a work group led by the Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs. The legislation seeks amendments to Latvia’s citizenship law that also would make it easier for many children to become citizens.

The proposal had its first hearing March 6 during a meeting of the state secretaries. Legal acts proposed by government ministries typically begin the legislative process in these meetings. If approved by the state secretaries, proposed legislation next goes to consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers and, from there, to the parliament.

The integration secretariat must now consult with a number of ministries over the proposed legislation before bringing it back to the Cabinet of Ministers.

The left-leaning Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs) says it supports the proposed amendments, but in an April 9 press release argued that reform should not stop with minimal changes. The party said the citizenship law should eliminate discrimination against Russian-speaking youth and make it easier for older persons to become citizens.

Under the integration secretariat’s proposal, the citizenship law would be amended to:

  • Define as citizens persons who had Latvian citizenship on June 17, 1940, as well as their descendants. Under the current law, persons who after May 4, 1990, became citizens of another country cannot also be Latvian citizens, unless they become dual citizens by July 1, 1995. More than 30,000 Latvian exiles and their descendants worldwide took advantage of the opportunity to become dual citizens, but the integration secretariat says many also missed or were not aware of the 1995 deadline.
  • Include among citizens orphans and children without parental care who are not citizens of another country.
  • Include among citizens children who at birth or at the time of adoption have at least one birth or adoptive parent who is a Latvian citizen.
  • Bar from dual citizenship those persons who have become Latvian citizens by naturalization.

The integration secretariat began working on the proposal last year, forming a work group to discuss how the citizenship law could be changed to encourage recent emigrants to return to Latvia. Originally the work group was to focus just on the question of whether children of Latvian citizens abroad should be granted dual citizenship. The work group’s charge was expanded after the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība) urged that it also re-open the question of dual citizenship for World War II-era political refugees and deportees, as well as their descendants.

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

20 thoughts on “Dual citizenship proposal moves forward

  1. What a wonderful opportunity for me and my family! Due to my work career situation I could not risk being a dual citizen in 1995. Now, in retirement I would love to be one! My parents and our family were/ are Latvians going back to the early 1900s. I was born in Latvia. I thought that the opportunity for dual citizen ship could never be taken away from me based on our family Latvian history. Yet, it was!?

  2. Not being addressed is the renouncing of one’s citizenship. Accepting citizienship of one country does not automatically renounce the citizenship of the previous. When my parents became citizens, I was 7 and also became a citizen. At 18 I finally completed the required paperwork. Doing so, I was told I had to renounce my Latvian citizenship. To do that I would have to deal with the country governing that land, i.e., USSR. USSR claimed all Latvians in exile as their citizens, thus to renounce my Latvian citizenship, I would have to submit 5 passport photos, paperwork and 1 month’s salary as payment. I never did that – thus when I applied for my Latvian passport, I felt I was finally getting my birthright, as I was still a Latvian citizen. US has similar process to renounce one’s citizenship – one cannot just move away and say “I am not a US citizen!”

  3. This is great! My entire family is Latvian (Upesleja), but in 1995 I was too young to file for myself, and I did not get the chance to become a citizen of Latvia. I plan to make a career in internationally, and I am very excited for this opportunity to finally become a dual citizen!

  4. Let this happen!! I was granted dual citizenship but due to misinformation at the time of my registration (which was not my fault) my daughter who was born in 1992 is unable to become a latvian citizen even though I am and my other daughter who was born in 1996 is one. My daughter is being brought up in a latvian household, attends latvian shool, church, guides is actively involved in the latvian community, has visited Latvia (and even met President Zatlers — and that still doesn’t even count!! but more importantly she wants to be a latvian citizen. Why is she being denied this right? Despite numerous letters to the Latvian goverment, she must renounce her country of birth citizenship to become a latvian citizen like her mother and sister. What parent would allow that to happen when she lives with us, attends school, and needs medical attention in her country of residence? Let this happen to families (and others) like ours!

  5. I wonder how this is going to affect me. I was born in Germany of Latvian parents. We came to England as refugees in 1945 when I was just three years old. I’ve never become a British citizen and my parents are both dead. I travel with a British travel document which does not entitle me to visit Latvia. Because of ww2 I was not able to find out what happened to my extended family. I am Latvian, I went to Latvian school along with English school but I speak and ‘feel’ Latvian. Now I am retired and wonder if I will ever get the chance to see and experience my ‘homeland’.

  6. Brigita – Talk here is of dual citizenship, as you are not a British citizen (stateless?) I think you have a right to a Latvian passport already, regardless of what the Latvian government may decide or not decide. Have you been in touch with the Latvian embassy in London about this?

  7. My parents registered when they were required to do so, but am not sure if the process was completed. I was born in Madona 09.04 .1944. Am naturalised citizen of Australia. Would I be eligible for. Our family fled Latvia,l ived in D.P.camps in Germany, and finally arrived in Aust. 1950. Would love to visit my country of birth.

  8. If the purpose of allowing dual citizenship for Latvians is to encourage them and their families to return to Latvia then I think it is a step in the right direction. I think Latvia is experiencing the same type of population loss as Australia had for many years when Australia did not allow dual citizenship. Lots of young, well educated citizens moved to other countries to have a better life, and often took out another country’s citizenship because they would otherwise suffer economic, political or other hardship if they did not and thus lost their Australian citizenship. That also meant they and their families did not return to Australia as they no longer had an automatic right to do so. Australia suffered a huge talent and brain drain for many years. It changed it’s laws a few years ago after several studies to allow all Australian to hold dual citizenship an thus entice former residents and their descedants back to Australia. Australia recognized, as do many countries, that we are now in a global world. People move to other countries to get educated, obtain better working conditions and pursue carreers and opportunities not available in their own country and that if you want to attract those people back as well as their increased experience and wealth you have to allow them to have dual citizenship. Dual citizenship makes it much easier and more attractive to move back to that country and enrich it’s society and economy. I think allowing all Latvians and their descendants – to say grandchildren, to hold dual citizenship will be an enormous benefit to Latvia as it will remove the current hurdles that former Latvian citizens, children born to parents from different citizenship and persons who did not register for Latvian citizenship now have to returning to Latvia. If they are worried that the Russian population not allowing dual citizenship will not solve it. Latvia will continue to lose its best and brightest and send them the message that it does not want them or their children back because they will make then chose to either keep Latvian citizenship and suffer econimic or other harships – eg security clearances, different tax rates on inheritances or not being able to hold a local government job etc., or the loss of Latvian citizenship. I hope they allow dual citizenship and reinstate lost citizenships like the Australian govenrment has.

  9. i am waiting for this opportunity as my parents were both latvians (liepaja and jelgava). will be in riga next september if there is someone which can help me with information as here in buenos aires where i live it is difficult to obtain. thanks in advance

  10. I completely support this proposal. I too was born in a DP camp in Germany of a Latvian mother and will visit Valmiera her home town this summer to look for relatives. I can stay for 3 months without further permission as a British and European Union Citizen. In my youth Latvia was a distant and lost land and I never learned the language. Now I slowly am and an emotional attachment to the country and my unknown relatives (some deported) is buiding strongly. As a dual citizen I would visit more often and for longer periods. I might buy property there and set up a scheme for younger Latvians to visit London and improve their English language skills. This kind of financial and social involvement from Latvia’s sons and daughters abroad will boost the reborn country’s development enormously.

  11. I am a 2nd generation of born in the USA of a Latvian grandfather. I have a certified copy of my Latvian grandfather’s birth record. My grandfather came to North America in 1907. He never renounced his Latvian Citizenship! However, under the present consideration for dual citizenship, I am left out! I enjoy my Latvian heritage and have traveled twice to visit my ancestral town of Jekobpils. Does anyone on this online forum know how I too can become a dual Latvian citizen?

  12. I missed the 95 deadline also, was too young to do it myself also. It is crazy that just because of a date I cant regain that part of my history that was taken from my family… ha 1995.

  13. Any new information on dual citizenship? Any links? I missed the deadline as well. My father and grandmother are Latvian (Kurzeme).

  14. I too am a Latvian born in Riga in 1941 and living in Australia. I also missed out on the chance of dual citizenship in 1995 and would take it up now if I had the chance.
    PLEASE, PLEASE reintroduce it as soon as possible!!

  15. I also missed the 1995 deadline. I was born in a DP camp in Germany. Both my parents were from Latvia.I have been to Latvia several time. In 1996 my wife and I adopted twin girls from Latvia. I will be traveling to Latvia again in 2009 to find my daughters birth family. I am definitely interested in an other opportunity to obtain dual citizenship and re-affirm my heritage.

  16. My father was born in Riga and left during the war to Germany where later to America. My father has only a brother alive and zero records of any family members in Latvia. We owned land but do not have the documentation, but the family who lives on it took care of my great grand father when he passed on. We visited once and our family members who have passed on have there grave stones there. I have my dual citizenship from 1992. First question: What does the dual citizenship mean to mean and what can it do? Second: Can I re trace any relatives in Latvia and where do I start with very or no paper work at all to start with? Three: What would I have to do to get the land back if I wanted to with out any documentation lost in the war?

  17. My grandfathers birth certificate reads “Evalds Krisjanis Vilde” 1-11-1891. His fathers name is (I believe) Adamam Christofora (Kristupa) Vilde. I think they lived in or around Budberg Bauska. My grandparents (both Latvian) are deceased but my father Arnold R Wilde is 91 and lives in Michigan. My grandparents lived in Chicago, Detroit and most of their lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My grandfather was a great man and was a Superintendent of a Very large Paper Factory. He was known as ‘Ewald Wilde” He left Lativa when he was 16 years of age under very dire circumstances. His father had some politcal positiion and was never seen again after Ewald was taken from a private school and put on a ship headed for Boston, Massachusets USA (a family lawyer made all the arrangements.) My father is of sound mind but does not remember all of his parents history. Ewald had a sister Helen and I believe she lived in Belgium. My 5 brothers and sisters are ll in their 50’s and 60’s and wish to know more about my grandparents heritage. If there is another web site I can use to provide this information please let me know. Thank-you in advance.

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