Dual citizenship now allowed in Lithuania

The Baltic Times
Jun 30, 2008
In cooperation with BNS

VILNIUS- The Lithuanian parliament approved the new edition of the Citizenship Law, in which children of emigrants living in European Union (EU) and NATO member states will be entitled to dual citizenship.
A total of 78 MPs voted in favor of this bill, four voted against it and nine abstained.

The new Citizenship Law will come into effect after it is signed by President Valdas Adamkus.

According to the new law, dual citizenship will be granted to seven groups of people, including citizens of EU and NATO member states; political deportees and prisoners as well as three generations of their descendants; those, who left Lithuania during the Soviet rule (1940-1990) as well as their offspring; Lithuanians living in traditionally very populated “isles” in neighboring states; individuals who have been granted a Lithuanian passport alongside the document issued by another state; also children of Lithuanian citizens and citizens of other countries, which have signed an international agreement with Lithuania on dual citizenship. Lithuania has no agreements of a similar nature with any other country at this point.

At the time of discussing this controversy-ridden law, most debates arose over granting dual citizenship to Lithuanians living in EU and NATO member states. Some MPs saw this provision as discriminatory with regards to those countrymen who emigrated to other nations, namely Australia, New Zealand and Ukraine.

Some MPs, who did not approve of the bill, mentioned their intentions to address the Constitutional Court.

The new Citizenship Law also predicts that the issue of Lithuanian citizenship can be considered according to provisions valid prior to the Constitutional Court’s ruling for individuals, who have presented their applications for Lithuanian citizenship before Nov. 16 of 2006.

Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania can be granted to an individual if they meet the following requirements: pass an examination of the national language; have a document proving their right for permanent residence in Lithuania at the time of presenting their citizenship application, have lived in Lithuanian territory for the past ten years, have legal means of getting by and passed the examination on basic knowledge of the country’s Constitution.

According to the second part of the 12th clause of the Constitution, dual citizenship is allowed as rare exceptions, however this issue is especially relevant to Lithuanians living abroad, as by accepting citizenship of their country of residence, they are deprived of their right to a Lithuanian passport.

In the fall of 2006, the Constitutional Court found that the country’s main law provides for dual citizenship as rare exceptions, declaring laws allowing dual citizenship as running counter to the Constitution.