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Proposed Amendments submitted to Citizenship Law of Lithuania

Proposed Amendments submitted to Citizenship Law of Lithuania

According to the recent change of interpretation of Lithuanian Citizenship Law in November 2017 (due to a recent court decision that set a precedent and changed how the Migration Department processes the applications), fewer people can get dual Lithuanian citizenship. You can read about the court decision and its ramifications in our earlier article.

However, a proposal has already been submitted in Parliament of Lithuania to change the law, so it is likely that the interpretation of the law will be the same as it was a month ago.

The amendment was prepared by 4 members of parliament including two former Prime ministers A.Kubilius and G.Kirkilas.

The proposed amendment should change the law so that Lithuanian citizenship can be restored to a person whose ancestors had the citizenship at the time when they left the Republic of Lithuania and/or had Lithuanian citizenship at any time before 15th of June, 1940, but not necessarily had it until 1940.

In the amendment document Members of Parliament noted that after the amendment is passed the number of applications can increase significantly, as a result adversely affecting a workload of Migration Department. Based on the experience of www.lithuaniancitizeship.com, currently, processing of many citizenship applications is delayed due to insufficient capacity of Migration Department.

If you have Lithuanian ancestors and wish to get Lithuanian citizenship, please contact us.

Interpretation of Lithuanian Citizenship Law changed – dual citizenship is available for less applicants

Interpretation of Lithuanian Citizenship Law changed – dual citizenship is available for less applicants

According to recent change of interpretation of Lithuanian Citizenship Law (due to a recent court decision that set a precedent and changed how Migration Department processes the applications) less people can get Dual Lithuanian citizenship.

If at least one of applicant’s Lithuanian ancestor (parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents) had Lithuanian citizenship but lost it before 15th of June 1940 – the applicant still has a possibility of obtaining Lithuanian citizenship, but it would be a single one (which means that they would have to give up to their current citizenship in order to obtain Lithuanian citizenship). Usually, it is considered that the person lost Lithuanian citizenship at the moment when they obtained citizenship of another country. Therefore, if applicant’s Lithuanian ancestor obtained citizenship of another country before 15th of June 1940, then they can obtain only Lithuanian single citizenship. If they obtained citizenship of another country after 15th of June 1940, then an applicant should still be eligible for dual citizenship, just as before. Please note that Lithuania reverted to issuing only single citizenships only in November of 2017 and we expect that the law will be changed so that dual citizenship is available instead of single as before.

Probably this change of the interpretation of the law is temporary since it was completely unintended when the parliament was making an amendment to Lithuanian Citizenship Law. The citizenship law was changed more than a year ago specifically to allow dual citizenship to everyone whose ancestors had Lithuanian citizenship, regardless of when they left (as long as it was before 1990 and they did not emigrate to former USSR countries). For applicants from USA, Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Africa the amendment almost eliminated situations when people were asked to renounce their current citizenship. However, due to not very well formulated wording by Lithuanian Parliament the court decided that the law means that dual citizenship can be obtained if applicant’s ancestor had Lithuanian citizenship on 15th of June, 1940, as apposed to any time before 15th of June, 1940. Therefore, it is quite likely that parliament will decide to make another amendment in order to corrected this situation and allow dual citizenship to most of the applicants just as it was before November, 2017. However, it might take months at best, and a few years in the worst case scenario.

You can get a dual Lithuanian citizenship if at least one of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were Lithuanian citizens оn 15th of June 1940 and left Lithuania some time before 1990.

If you have Lithuanian ancestors and are thinking to obtain citizenship of this EU country it might be worth doing it earlier, rather than risking to miss this opportunity. There is a tendency for the application processing time to increase and the process to become more difficult and more expensive with time. Lithuanian Citizenship Law changed multiple times during Lithuania’s independence and will change in future, however once the citizenship is granted it cannot be taken away even if the law changes later.

Dual citizenship can be legalized only by changing constitution, Lithuanian Constitutional Court decided

Dual citizenship can be legalized only by changing constitution, Lithuanian Constitutional Court decided

The head of the Constitutional Court Dainius Žalimas announced that according to the constitution of Lithuania, the Seimas cannot establish by law that Lithuanian citizens who have left after the restoration of independence (in 1990) may be both citizens of Lithuania and another state without a referendum and the amendment of the constitution.

The question was whether a law could establish the right to have dual citizenship after the restoration of independence to the citizens of the European Union (EU) and NATO countries. The constitution states that except for “individual cases”, no one can be simultaneously a Lithuanian citizen and a citizen of another state.

The Constitutional Court has previously stated that dual citizenship cannot be a widespread phenomenon, therefore, the constitution would be in conflict with the legalization of dual citizenship by the law for those people who left the country after the restoration of independence in 1990. “Only a change in the provision of Article 12 of the constitution may be waived in the field of restriction of multiple citizenships,” the chairman of the Constitutional Court Dainius Žalimas commented.

“In 2013, the Constitutional Court said that it was not possible to establish such a general permit for being a citizen of any country and a citizen of Lithuania, as this leads to a widespread phenomenon (dual citizenship), and it has been repeatedly stated that regulation cannot create preconditions for multiple citizenships as a widespread phenomenon” , – D. Žalimas argued.

The Constitutional Court states that the expanding of the institution of dual citizenship could be done in line with the direction of Euro-Atlantic integration – i.e. granting dual citizenship to Lithuanians who left Lithuania to European Union and NATO countries.

At present, you can get a dual Lithuanian citizenship if at least one of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were Lithuanian citizens and left Lithuania some time from 1918 to 1990. Dual Lithuanian citizenship means that you can get Lithuanian citizenship/passport and keep your current citizenship, according to Lithuanian law. Recently Lithuanian citizenship law was changed allowing descendants of Lithuanian citizens that left prior to 1940 to get dual Lithuanian citizenship (until recently they were eligible only for single Lithuanian citizenship and had to renounce their current citizenship).
Contact us now if you want to get dual Lithuanian citizenship.

Constitutional Court of Lithuania will decide whether to allow dual citizenship for those that left after 1990

Constitutional Court of Lithuania will decide whether to allow dual citizenship for those that left after 1990

At the request of Lithuanian parliament, constitutional court will clarify whether the law can establish the right to have dual citizenship for those citizens that left Lithuania to European Union (EU) and NATO countries.

At the end of June, the parliament appealed to the Constitutional Court to clarify the decision on citizenship law made in 2013. Parliament asks whether it is possible to establish a legal framework, without changing the constitution, that would allow double citizenship for Lithuanians that left the country after its independence.
When addressing the Constitutional Court, the parliament emphasized that the increase in emigration and the increase in the number of mixed marriages after Lithuania’s accession to the European Union created prerequisites for adjusting the extremely strict constitutional doctrine. Previous explanations by the Constitutional Court stated that possibility to have dual citizenship cannot be considerably expanded without changing the constitution by referendum. The proponents of dual citizenship worry that such referendum might be unsuccessful due to low turnout.
While addressing the Constitutional Court, parliament pointed out that currently there are over 22 thousand people with dual Lithuanian citizenship. Politicians say that this fact shows that current legal framework is already not in line with the official doctrine that dual citizenship should be a particularly rare exception, but not a widespread phenomenon. A survey by the market research company RAIT in April showed that 60% of Lithuanians are in favor of allowing the next generation of emigrants to have dual citizenship.
At the moment you can get a dual Lithuanian citizenship if at least one of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were Lithuanian citizens and left Lithuania some time from 1918 to 1990. Dual Lithuanian citizenship means that you can get Lithuanian citizenship/passport and keep your current citizenship (or citizenships), according to Lithuanian law. However, this is an exception and dual citizenship is not allowed for Lithuanians that left Lithuania after 1990.
Contact us now if you want to get dual Lithuanian citizenship.

Are Lithuanians with dual citizenship drafted to Lithuanian army?

Are Lithuanians with dual citizenship drafted to Lithuanian army?

When a young man is restoring his Lithuanian citizenship he thinks of the possibility to be drafted to serve in the army. But is this really a question to worry about?

Generally speaking, all young men can be subject to military service, but not all will serve.

Lithuania has a military requirement that was re-introduced in 2015, because of the geopolitical situation. However, it is difficult to imagine that Australian or American with Lithuanian citizenship would be actually forced to serve in Lithuanian army unless he voluntarily decides to join. Why is it so?

Currently 19-26 year old Lithuanian men can be drafted. Army service lasts 9 months, but priority is given to the persons who voluntarily decide to join the armed forces. In practice it means that, only around of 2% men in the eligible age group are asked to join the army every year, but much smaller percentage actually joins the army. There are about 150.000 men in the draft age group, only 30.000-38.000 of them were randomly selected for the draft list, but there will be only 3000 persons drafted for the army per year. In many regions the draft is stopped since enough people decide to join the army on voluntary basis and there is no need to draft any additional persons. In fact even though the draft was formally announced in 2015, there were enough volunteers during the years 2015 and 2016 to fill all the available places in the army. It looks like that this year, there will be no need to draft anyone if they do not volunteer.

What to do if you are randomly selected during the draft?

Even if the person is randomly selected from the draft list, he can request to postpone the army service for the following reasons:

a) study;

b) work, and being drafted for 9 months would mean that he would lose a job;

c) there would be a significant financial damage incurred by the person, if they were drafted – for example, it would be very expensive to fly from another country to Lithuania and back;

d) if a person does not speak Lithuanian, so it would be technically difficult and expensive to ensure that he could complete his military service without a translator;

e) medical reasons, etc.

If army service is postponed, then next year the person might get on the list again (and ask for postponement again) or they may not get on the list at all (it is randomly generated each year). In all the cases the final decision is being made by the special committee, so you would have to write a letter with the supporting documents explaining why you cannot join the military if you are randomly selected.

To summarize, any 19-26 year old male, Lithuanian citizen can get on the draft list. However, considering number of volunteers that are willing to join Lithuanian army, it is very unlikely that a person selected for the draft would be actually asked to join the army. In case he does, however, he would be able to ask to for a permission not to join the army due to lack of knowledge of Lithuanian language and travel costs.

More people can get dual Lithuanian citizenship now…

More people can get dual Lithuanian citizenship now…

Lithuanian Parliament recently amended the Citizenship Law allowing descendants of Lithuanian citizens that left before 1940 to get dual Lithuanian citizenship. Until now, the Citizenship Law allowed dual citizenship only for those who fled Lithuania during its occupation from 1940 to 1990. Lithuanian citizens (and their descendants) who left Lithuania before 1940, could get only single Lithuanian citizenship and had to renounce their current citizenship. This prevented many people from applying for Lithuanian citizenship.

You can now get a dual Lithuanian citizenship if at least one of your parents, grandparents or great grandparents were Lithuanian citizens and left Lithuania some time from 1918 to 1990. Dual Lithuanian citizenship means that you can get Lithuanian citizenship/passport and keep your current citizenship. Currently, the application procedure requires only having documents that prove your connection to the family member with Lithuanian heritage.

Besides restoring citizenship of the country of your ancestors Lithuanian citizenship can give you and your family members a number of tangible benefits. Having dual passport can also have a positive effect on your personal and economic freedom. Having double or even multiple citizenship – is an important step in internationalizing your life so that no one government can. Hence, if you have Lithuanian ancestors, you may well qualify for dual Lithuanian Citizenship. If this law change is of interest to you and you have any questions, please contact us now.

We are ready to guide you through the application process even if you do not have complete documentation. We have an extensive experience working in different Lithuanian and German archives and we will be able to find missing documents and get Lithuanian citizenship for you even in the most difficult cases. Application procedure requires having documented proof that one of your ancestors had a Lithuanian citizenship and we have an extensive experience working in different Lithuanian and German archives and finding documents needed for citizenship restoration.

We are ready to guide you through the application process. Feel free to get in touch with us even if you do not have complete documentation, but you know your ancestors came from Lithuania. We are able to find missing documents and get Lithuanian citizenship for our clients even in the most difficult cases.