No children born with a ‘non-citizen’ status in Latvia from 1 January 2020

In October 2019, the Parliament of Latvia passed a law, which will enable children born in Latvia to two ‘non-citizen’ parents to receive either this country’s citizenship or citizenship of another country upon the request of both parents. The child will automatically be entitled to Latvian citizenship by birth, but may obtain release from it if both parents agree that the child should have another nationality. In cases of children born abroad to Latvian ‘non-citizens’, the parents will have to submit a certification that the child is not a dual national.

The law has taken effect on 1 January 2020. It aims at preventing statelessness of children born to ‘non-citizens’, i.e. Russian-speaking residents of Latvia with restrictions to political rights. At present, 11 per cent of the Latvian population have this status, and each year around 50 children are registered as ‘non-citizens’.

International organisations, including the Council of Europe, have welcomed the country’s move towards eradicating child statelessness.

Unlike Latvia, which introduced provisions for the acquisition of citizenship at birth, neighbouring Estonia has recently amended its citizenship law to facilitate naturalisation of children born to ‘non-citizens’ before the age of 18, provided that the child does not have dual citizenship. Previously, only children whose both parents were ‘non-citizens’ could naturalise as minors until the age of 15.

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