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New amendment allows keeping dual citizenship for Lithuanians born abroad

November 20, 2015

On Thursday (19 November 2015), the Lithuanian parliament adopted an amendment to the citizenship law allowing foreign-born Lithuanians who automatically acquire dual citizenship, to keep the dual citizenship indefinitely. Until now Lithuanians that were born abroad and, as a result, acquired dual citizenship were allowed to keep it until they were 21 years old. At that time, they had to choose which one citizenship they wanted to keep.

This law is important to Lithuanian (or partly Lithuanian) families living in countries that are using the jus soli (right of the soil) principle to grant citizenship. Jus soli is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship. According to this law when a child was born to Lithuanian parents in the US, the child automatically acquired US and Lithuanian citizenships. The child acquired Lithuanian citizenship if at least one of his/her parents was a Lithuanian national. However, until now, the child had to choose one out of two citizenships when they turned 21 years old.

The new amendment will affect Lithuanian families in the countries where the jus soli principle is applied – USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela. Jus soli with some restrictions are applied in other countries with large Lithuanian diasporas as well: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, Ireland and Germany.

“It is a historic day for Lithuania and an extremely important day for many Lithuanians living abroad and families of Lithuanian descent”, announced the Liberal party, which initiated the amendment.

“Adopted amendment to the citizenship law allows whole generations of Lithuanians born abroad to keep Lithuanian citizenship”, told Arminas Lydeka, a member of the Liberal party.

The amendment will come into force after being signed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

A group of parliament members plan to hold a referendum together with a parliamentary election next year, which would allow all Lithuanians to have double citizenship. However, whether the referendum will be held, parliament will decide only in the spring, of next year. Parliamentary elections will be held in October 2016.

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