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The children of one of Russia’s richest oligarchs have Lithuanian citizenship. What will happen to them?

The children of one of Russia’s richest oligarchs have Lithuanian citizenship. What will happen to them?

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has expressed dissatisfaction with the considerations of Lithuanian officials and the proposed amendments by the Ministry of the Interior. These amendments suggest the possibility of stripping citizenship acquired by descent, citing concerns for national security, as reported by the news agency “Bloomberg.”

Minister Agnė Bilotaitė brought attention to these legislative changes after revealing that two of R. Abramovich’s children – Anna and Arkadiy – hold Lithuanian passports and might have assisted their father in circumventing international sanctions. In response, Abramovich’s spokesperson stated, “R. Abramovich’s children, much like all other descendants of persecuted Lithuanian Jews, possess an absolute legal right to their citizenship. The omission of this context by the Lithuanian Government is misleading and regrettable.”

Previously Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also criticized such a proposal, stating that “it is not very good to start tinkering with our laws, targeting them at a specific case, specific individuals.” Nauseda stressed that Lithuanian institutions should verify whether Lithuanian citizenship was granted to Abramovich’s children in accordance with existing laws. Additionally, these institutions must assess whether the billionaire’s offspring played a role in circumventing European Union sanctions.

In turn, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte previously stated on Thursday that if citizenship is acquired to bypass international sanctions, its revocation can be addressed by changing the country’s laws. The Migration Department confirmed earlier that citizenship was granted to both of R. Abramovich’s children before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and R. Abramovich himself does not possess Lithuanian citizenship.

We, De Civitate Group, strongly oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as attempts to circumvent the sanctions imposed for this by using Lithuanian citizenship legislation. We are ready to provide support in the restoration of Lithuanian citizenship to the descendants of Lithuanians in strict accordance with the Citizenship Law.

We monitor all changes in legislation and are ready to assess the applicant’s compliance with the current requirements of the Law on Citizenship of Lithuania even before signing the contract and making any payments.

The Referendum in May 2024 – Who Will Be Eligible for Dual Lithuanian Citizenship?

The Referendum in May 2024 – Who Will Be Eligible for Dual Lithuanian Citizenship?

On October 10, 2023, the head of the Government’s Communications Department, Marius Gurskas, answered questions on the LRT TV channel regarding a planned referendum, which is set to take place simultaneously with the first round of the presidential elections on May 12, 2024.

From Gurkskas’ responses, it can be inferred that changes in citizenship are planned to be introduced into the Constitution of Lithuania. Here are some of the things he said:

“We are certainly not saying that Lithuanian citizenship will be given to everyone. We are talking about the possibility of keeping it for those who have it… Most often, those are family circumstances or when people leave for work or other reasons and have to make a choice to have better career prospects… For example, a Lithuanian volleyball player was invited to play in the Olympics for the Italian national team. There was a dilemma about what to do. The person feels that she is a citizen of Lithuania, she loves Lithuania. Unfortunately, the current Constitution doesn’t allow retaining Lithuanian citizenship if a person acquires another country’s citizenship.”

If the outcome of the planned referendum is successful, who will have the right to dual citizenship?

Those who will benefit from the successful outcome of the referendum would be individuals who have Lithuanian citizenship and have gone to other countries in search of better employment opportunities or for other reasons. In other words, this concerns the last wave of emigrants after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1991.

In many cases, these individuals obtained citizenship in their country of residence through naturalization. Since the Constitution currently does not allow them to retain Lithuanian citizenship, more often than not, they lose it.

According to Marius Gurskas, Lithuania loses about 1,000 of its citizens each year due to this.

Can those born in Lithuania and who have moved to former USSR countries get dual citizenship?

According to the head of the Government’s Communications Department, individuals who left for former USSR countries cannot get dual citizenship. He says that these changes are planned for citizens of Lithuania who have moved to countries friendly to Lithuania, which include those belonging to the European Union, NATO, the European Economic Area, or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Therefore, one should not expect simplification of procedures for those who left for Russia after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and are now looking for ways to leave while retaining their existing citizenship.

What should you do if you have Lithuanian ancestors but no grounds for dual citizenship, and you are not ready to lose your current citizenship? In this case, it’s worth considering the possibility of obtaining a Certificate of Lithuanian Descent or a Certificate of the Right to Restore Lithuanian Citizenship.

It can be stated unequivocally that the proposed changes to the Constitution will simplify the lives of thousands of Lithuanians in the event of a positive result in the referendum, scheduled for May 12, 2024.

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.