Seimas started considering the initiative on holding a referendum on dual citizenship

Seimas started considering the initiative on holding a referendum on dual citizenship

Lithuanian parliamentarians began considering the proposal to hold a mandatory referendum on the legalization of multiple citizenships. The referendum will be held on May 12, 2024.

After submission, 101 Seimas members voted for such a draft resolution, one was against it, and four abstained. The referendum is planned to be held together with the first round of the presidential election. It is proposed to vote in the referendum on the following amendment to the Constitution:

“Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania is acquired at birth and on other grounds and procedures established by the constitutional law. The Constitutional Law also establishes the grounds and procedure for the loss of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania.”

In this way, the ban on having dual citizenship would be removed from the country’s main law. The detailed conditions for acquiring and losing dual citizenship, the procedure, and other matters will be determined by constitutional law.

As we wrote earlier, the draft Citizenship Constitutional Law was registered in the legislative base of the Seimas. It stipulates that a Lithuanian citizen would not lose his citizenship if he acquired the citizenship of a country that meets the criteria of European and Transatlantic integration, that is, the citizenship of the member states of the European Union, NATO, the European Economic Area Agreement, and the countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In the project, it is distinguished that the criteria of European and transatlantic integration chosen by Lithuania do not meet the criteria of the states that are together the allied states of Belarus and Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, other political, military, economic organizations created based on the former USSR. or members of other states’ unions or commonwealths.

In addition, persons of Lithuanian origin and those who left Lithuania before March 11, 1990, as well as their descendants, who got married to foreigners and therefore acquired the citizenship of their spouse, and who received refugee status in Lithuania, could have dual citizenship. Lithuanian citizenship would also be granted for merit.

Dalia Asanavičiūtė, the chairwoman of the working group that prepared the constitutional amendment project, emphasized that much work will be needed to make the referendum successful this time. She said:

“We need all of us to focus here, to ask our relatives to come, participate, vote because we have no other way. And if the referendum fails this time, I don’t know if it will be possible for the third time, at least in the near future,”

In 2019, with the presidential elections, a referendum was already held, which was aimed to expand the possibilities of having dual citizenship, but then the turnover of voters was not high enough to adopt such an amendment.

We will keep you updated on the latest developments on the planned referendum and call on the citizens of Lithuania to take an active part in it.

Seimas is considering a referendum on dual citizenship on May 12, 2024

Seimas is considering a referendum on dual citizenship on May 12, 2024

More than 60 members of the Seimas enlisted the bill, which proposes to hold a referendum regarding the following provision of the Constitution:

“Acquisition of the Republic of Lithuania’s citizenship transpires by birth and other legal means and procedures set by the constitutional law. The constitutional law also establishes the legal means and procedures for revoking the Republic of Lithuania’s citizenship.”

By doing so, the restriction on holding dual citizenship would be removed from the Constitution.

The explicit terms for acquiring and revoking dual citizenship, as well as the procedure and other matters, will be defined by the constitutional law.

During the 2019 presidential elections, a referendum was already held to broaden the options for having dual citizenship. However, the turnout was not sufficient in order to pass the change to the constitution even though a majority of voters were in favor of the change. An amendment to the Constitution with regards to citizenship is considered ratified if it was approved by more than half of the eligible voters who are registered in the voter list.

Why is this important to Lithuanians?

Those who emigrated after the reinstatement of sovereignty on March 11, 1990, at present, with some exemptions, are prohibited from having dual citizenship. The Constitutional Court has ruled that dual citizenship can be granted to those who left after 1990 only if the Constitution is amended by referendum.

Lithuania has a difficult history of emigration, and the wave of emigrants from the country after the restoration of its independence was the largest. This is due to the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian economy was in an extremely disastrous state. Many people, after half a century of hardship under the blurring of Lithuanian identity by the Soviet Union occupation of Russia and the complete collapse of the economy after independence, were forced to leave the country in search of work and better quality of life with normal pay.

Most of them went to European countries – Germany, the UK and others. After working in the country for several years, many of them remained in it and naturalized, receiving citizenship in a new country. And now most of these Lithuanians do not have the opportunity to restore their citizenship.

If this time the Lithuanians successfully amend the Constitution, it will enable hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians to restore their Lithuanian citizenship, remaining a citizen of their new homeland. In particular, this will enable their children not to break the connection with the homeland of their ancestors.

We help many people to restore their Lithuanian citizenship (usually dual), but currently, due to legal limitations, we cannot offer this opportunity to those that left after 1990 or their children.

Naturalization before 1940 not an obstacle for Lithuanian citizenship anymore

Naturalization before 1940 not an obstacle for Lithuanian citizenship anymore

On January 28, 2022, a new amendment of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania came into force. It clarifies eligibility for Lithuanian citizenship, allowing applicants with ancestors naturalized in another country before 1940 to get dual Lithuanian citizenship. Until recently, the Migration Department was often blocking Lithuanian citizenship restoration claiming that naturalization in another country before 1940 meant an automatic loss of Lithuanian citizenship. After the new amendment came into force, applicants with ancestors naturalized before 1940, will be able to apply for dual Lithuanian citizenship.

The previous interpretation of the citizenship law requires applicants to provide evidence that their Lithuanian ancestors pursued to maintain Lithuanian citizenship in their new country of residence until 15 June 1940. Lithuanian citizenship was denied if their Lithuanian ancestors were naturalized before 15 June 1940.

According to the new regulation, an individual who was a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania at any time before 15 June 1940 (or their descendants) will be eligible for reinstatement of their citizenship. Earlier formulation stated that a person can restore Lithuanian citizenship only if they (or their ancestor) had Lithuanian citizenship on 15 June 1940. The Migration Department’s view is that anyone that acquired citizenship of another country before 1940, automatically lost their Lithuanian citizenship.

Those persons, whose ancestors had their citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania revoked by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Lithuania, were and are unable to apply for the reinstitution of citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania. However, such cases are extremely rare and, in our experience, they affect less than one percent of potential applicants.

There is a possibility that this new amendment will be challenged at the Constitutional court. However, the process might take at least 1-2 years and this time usually is sufficient to prepare the application and get Lithuanian citizenship. Since the amendment already came into power, it opens an opportunity to get Lithuanian citizenship for more descendants of Lithuanian citizens. Even if the amendment were reversed, citizenship that was already granted would not be affected.

If you have Lithuanian ancestors and would like to acquire a Lithuanian dual passport, reach out to us via email at [email protected]. We offer assistance in document acquisition, application preparation, translation services, and guidance throughout the process until citizenship is granted.

Apply now, before rules change again! Email us today so we can assess your eligibility for a Lithuanian passport by descent.


More applicants are eligible for dual Lithuanian citizenship

More applicants are eligible for dual Lithuanian citizenship

Now you are eligible for dual Lithuanian citizenship even if your Lithuanian ancestors were naturalized in other countries before 1940. If one of your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents left Lithuania before 1940 and got citizenship of Brazil, USA, South Africa, or any other country before the start of WW2 in 1940 until recently you were eligible only for single Lithuanian citizenship. Single Lithuanian citizenship meant that when getting Lithuanian citizenship you had to renounce current citizenship that you have.

The citizenship law did not change but because of a precedent-setting court ruling, now most of the applicants can get Lithuanian citizenship even if their ancestors got citizenship of another country before 1940. It is not considered anymore that a person who got citizenship of another country lost Lithuanian citizenship automatically unless documents exist that prove the fact of loss of Lithuanian citizenship.

Dual Lithuanian citizenship cannot be acquired only when documents stating that the applicant’s ancestor had lost Lithuanian citizenship exist. In the majority of cases, Lithuania did not keep a record of people that left Lithuania, and information gathering about who got citizenship in other countries was sporadic. Therefore documents stating that person lost Lithuanian citizenship before 1940, because they acquired citizenship of another country are very rare. We at De Civitate search for these documents at the start of the application process and will find out whether the applicant’s ancestor lost Lithuanian citizenship before the application is submitted, thus saving the applicant a significant amount of time and money.

Lithuanian citizenship law and its interpretation already changed several times, thus changing eligibility criteria for dual and single citizenship. These changes resulted in situations when some members of the same family could get only single citizenship while their siblings or parents had dual, just because they applied at different times.

We always advise applying for a Lithuanian dual passport as soon as you can before rules change again. If a person is granted dual Lithuanian citizenship, even if eligibility rules change again they will not affect a holder of dual Lithuanian citizenship.

If you have Lithuanian citizenship, your children would get dual Lithuanian citizenship (and get the rights of EU citizens), by birth. By obtaining Lithuanian citizenship, you are getting citizenship not only for yourself but also for your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This is a great opportunity for your family and future generations. Lithuanian citizenship can be restored only for a descendant of three generations — if your great-grandparents left Lithuania, you are still able to restore Lithuanian citizenship, but your children will not be able to restore it. However, they can get Lithuanian citizenship by birth if they are born after you already restored Lithuanian citizenship and got your Lithuanian passport.

If you have Lithuanian ancestors and would like to acquire a Lithuanian dual passport, reach out to us via email at [email protected]. We offer assistance in document acquisition, application preparation, translation services, and guidance throughout the process until citizenship is granted. Apply now, before rules change again! Email us today so we can assess your eligibility for a Lithuanian passport by descent.

Are you eligible for a Lithuanian Citizenship by descent?

Are you eligible for a Lithuanian Citizenship by descent?

Due to amendments to the citizenship law of Lithuania that came into force on the 1st of July, 2016 –more people can now get a dual Lithuanian Citizenship again.

In general, you can acquire Lithuanian citizenship by descent and by restoration if:

  •  At least one of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents were citizens of the Republic of  Lithuania (which existed from 1918 to 1940);
  •  Your ancestor left Lithuania sometime before Lithuania restored its independence on March 11, 1990;
  •  Your Lithuanian ancestors left to any country which was not part of the former Soviet Union (In case your ancestor left to any of the Soviet Union countries, you might still be eligible for single or dual Lithuanian citizenship depending on the time and leaving circumstances described under Lithuania Nationality Law).

Lithuanian citizenship can be obtained by the restoration of citizenship, naturalization, birth, and under conditions established by Lithuania nationality law.

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Until the recent Lithuanian nationality law change, descendants of Lithuanian citizens that left Lithuania prior to 1940 could only get single Lithuanian citizenship and had to renounce their current one.

Except for the general rules, there are some other nuances that you should know in order to find out whether you are eligible for Lithuanian citizenship.

For example, one of the cases is related to the borders change issue. If a person can prove that they or their ancestors were born in the territory of present day Lithuania after 1918 then they can get Lithuanian nationality. In case the place where your ancestors were born is not a part of Lithuania today then you should find other proof that your ancestor was a Lithuanian citizen or held Lithuanian citizenship.

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If your ancestor left Lithuania before 1918, then, unfortunately you are not eligible for Lithuanian citizenship. Lithuania restored its independence in 1918 and only persons that lived in Lithuania after this date got Lithuanian citizenship.

Lithuanian immigration has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people with Lithuanian ancestry living outside Lithuania. Large waves of Lithuanian migration occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries, a large portion of whom were Jewish. Communities in the United States make up the largest part of this diaspora, where as many as one million Americans can claim Lithuanian descent and with the largest concentrations of Lithuanian Americans making their homes in the Great Lakes area and the Northeast. Lithuanian communities in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay also grew before and after World War II. Many Lithuanian citizens migrated to Israel, which today has a large Lithuanian/Jewish community. People with Lithuanian ancestors who are thinking of immigration to Lithuania should prove their Lithuanian genealogy in order to restore their lost citizenship. 

Because of different times and reasons of immigration, we can say that almost all Lithuanian Australians can obtain dual citizenship, while we have a mixed picture for Lithuanian Americans, Canadians and Brazilians. Today as many as 70% of South Africa’s Jews trace their descent to Lithuania and most of them can get Lithuanian citizenship.

Obtaining dual Lithuanian citizenship or immigration to Lithuania has many benefits. But relatives of no more than the third degree of kinship can receive it. And if you do not, your children may no longer be able to take advantage of this opportunity. Therefore, do not delay the study of your Lithuanian genealogy, and apply to check the possibility of obtaining Lithuanian citizenship. If you are interested in getting Lithuanian citizenship by descent but still not sure whether you qualify for citizenship, feel free to contact us.

We are ready to guide you through the application process and help you to restore your Lithuanian nationality rights based on your Lithuanian genealogy.

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More minors might be able to retain dual Lithuanian citizenship

More minors might be able to retain dual Lithuanian citizenship

The parliament of Lithuania will consider amendments initiated by the Ministry of the Interior to expand the cases when minors who have acquired Lithuanian citizenship by birth may also retain citizenship of another country.

Proposed amendments stipulate that a person who acquired Lithuanian citizenship by birth and acquired the citizenship of another state before the age of 18 without being born there, will be able to choose which citizenship to retain until they turn 20 years old.

If a person does not renounce the citizenship of another country until he or she reaches the age of 20, they will lose Lithuanian citizenship.

Amendments to the Law on Citizenship were approved this week after submission and will be further considered by committees of the Lithuanian parliament.

At the moment children lose their Lithuanian citizenship automatically if their parents acquire citizenship of another country for them. If amendments to the citizenship law are accepted children would have two years to decide which citizenship they want to keep after they reach the age of majority.

According to the data of the Ministry of the Interior, every year about 300 persons under the age of 18 who acquire the citizenship of another state lose their Lithuanian citizenship.

The amendment also wants to establish that all procedures related to Lithuanian citizenship should be carried out through one institution – the Migration Department. At the moment the Migration Department and the Ministry of Interior both participate in the Lithuanian citizenship restoration process. This change might speed up the process of restoring Lithuanian citizenship by descent.

We at De Civitate offer dual citizenship assistance to people with Lithuanian ancestry. Our clients do not have to be in Lithuania during the application process. We will handle all the application process from document acquisition, translation, application submission, and making follow-ups with the Lithuanian authorities until citizenship is granted.

Email us at [email protected] for more information.