A proposed amendment that would expand dual citizenship in Latvia is being opposed by For Fatherland and Freedom (Tēvzemei un brīvībai, or TB/LNNK), one of the ruling coalition’s five parties.
However, TB/LNNK supports another amendment that would again allow exile Latvians and their descendants to apply for dual citizenship.
Both amendments are part of a legislative package proposed by the Cabinet of Ministers. The TB/LNNK board decided Aug. 17 that it will oppose the proposal, which is due to be reviewed by coalition parties on Aug. 24, a party spokesman said in a press release.
The amendment TB/LNNK does not like would automatically grant Latvian citizenship to newborn children even in cases where one of the parents is not a Latvian citizen.
“The TB/LNNK board believes that this expansion of dual citizenship policy should be allowed only in relation to those children who are born in marriages between a Latvian citizen and citizens of other European Union or NATO states,” according to the press release.
Under the current citizenship law, newborns are considered Latvian citizens irregardless of where they are born as long as both parents are also Latvian citizens. If just one parent is a Latvian citizen, then the parents decide which citizenship the child will have. Dual citizenship is not allowed.
For exile Latvians and their descendants, the Cabinet of Ministers proposal offers hope that dual citizenship could again be offered. An amendment would lift the restriction that exiled citizens and their descendants could register as Latvian citizens only until July 1995. That amendment, according to the TB/LNNK press release, has the party’s support.
Under the current citizenship law, Latvian citizens who between June 17, 1940, and May 4, 1990, had gone into exile to escape the Soviet and Nazi occupations of the country, and who in the meantime had become naturalized citizens of another country, could also register as Latvian citizens. The rule also applied to descendants of the exiles. However, the opportunity to become a dual citizen expired in July 1995.
This is not the first time changes to the citizenship law have been proposed by the government, nor the first time TB/LNNK has opposed them. Changes proposed last year by the now-defunct Secretariat of the Special Assignments Minister for Social Integration Affairs ran into roadblocks.
A total of 30,793 persons registered for dual citizenship by July 1995, according to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. The greatest number, 12,473, were from the United States, followed by Australia (4,283) and Canada (3,788).
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