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

December 08, 2017

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.

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