Double citizenship in Lithuania
Exceptions to Constitutional prohibition
Lithuanian citizenship law of 2010 provides that persons who have right to reestablish Lithuanian citizenship shall renounce their current citizenship. This is general principle derived from constitutional notion prohibiting double citizenship in Lithuania, except for instances enshrined in law.
Exceptions to constitutional prohibition are given in Artical 7 of Lithuanian citizenship law, which indicates that a person may be citizenship of Lithuania and another country if one qualifies as:
- A person or descendant of person who was exiled from the occupied Republic of Lithuania before March 11, 1990 and acquired citizenship of another state;
- A person or descendant of person who fled the Republic of Lithuania before March 11, 1990 and acquired citizenship of another state;
Notion of exile raises no doubts about it‘s interpretation and evidence on exile may be acquired in archives if records survived. However notion of fleeing is more vague and request detailed examination of it’s application.
Constitutional court of Lithuania assessing conformity of existing citizenship regulations to constitution, has repeatedly emphasized that double citizenship cases should be a rare exception to general prohibition and interpretation of laws allowing double citizenship should not be construed in broadening manner, thus making it a wide spread phenomenon. Court has underlined that citizenship is close personal relationship between person and teritory of a sovereign state, thus only persons who lost this connection due to factors beyond their will, shall be eligible to reinstate Lithuanian citizenship without loosing their current citizenship.
Lithuanian High adminsitrative court went further explaining this doctrine. In 2014 decision court indicated that notion of „fled „ should not be understood in it‘s general verbal context, but rather as a special legal term. Court stated that double citizenship exception shall apply only to persons (and their descendants) who have fled Lithuania until 1990 March 11 th, while escaping the occupational regime because of presupposed regime limitations that threatened their main human freedoms. Serious ground should be established that individual was reasonably affraid of persecution threat due to his religious beliefs, political views or his individual social status and has fled Lithuania on the basis of these allegations. Factors concering such threats is subject to individual assesment.
Looking from historic perspective, Lithuania was a sovereign state from 1918 February 2nd to 1940 June 15th. It regained it’s independency again on 1990 March 11 th. Thus in order to qualify for double citizenship persons shall prove that their ancestors have fled Lithuania around or after 1940 June 15th, because only leave around or after 1940 June 15th could be considered as escaping the threats imposed by occupational regime.
As there are no predetermined conditions justifying “exceptional leave circumstances”, persons eligible for double citizenship shall prove individually how current historical and political events have jeopardized their main freedoms due to their religious beliefs, political views or dependence to certain social group. Arguments shall be supported with documental evidence, establishing track of person’s migration from Lithuania to final place of residence, which may be acquired from state archives or various non-profit oganizations providing ancestor tracking services.
Persons who do not qualify for double citizenship and do not want to renounce their current citizenship may acquire a certificate evidencing their right to reestablish Lithuanian citizenship witch may be utilized in future, avoiding background and origin document review. On the other hand persons eligible for Lithuanian citizenship may apply for Lithuanian long term residency (5 years) along with their family members, thus acquiring the right to live in any EU member state on the same legal basis as Lithuanian citizens.
English speaking lawyer of Gencs Valters Law Firm in Vilnius, practising in field of citizenship law in Lithuania
T: +370 52611000
F: +370 52611100