Eligibility for Lithuanian Citizenship and European Passport
Over the years, and especially since Lithuania entered the European Union, and as has recently been the case, the Lithuanian law regarding eligibility for Lithuanian citizenship has already changed several times, both regarding the legal framework for the right to reinstate Lithuanian citizenship and the additional question of whether a dual citizenship right exists, primarily subject to a right to reinstate Lithuanian citizenship.
The common question of those interested in obtaining a Lithuanian – European passport – “Am I entitled to a Lithuanian Citizenship” is common and obvious, but the answer is not trivial or simple at all.
First, it is important to understand that the preliminary examination aimed at examining the potential for the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship is not “technical” and in fact involves legal advice that is the result of examining and analyzing the factual data of each case, including documents if any, in order to pre-examine the degree of eligibility or complexity of each case. Specifically, considering the terms of the law, the recent ruling in the Lithuanian courts and the policy that existed at the time in the Lithuanian Immigration Office.
Reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship
The relevant law in Lithuania stipulates the conditions of eligibility for Lithuanian citizenship by virtue of restitution. In fact, the law deals with the right of anyone who was a citizen of Lithuania until June 15, 1940 to reinstate his citizenship. Such right of reinstatement, if it does apply under Lithuanian law upon the specific case, is also may be granted to 3 generations of the descendants of such citizen.
While this is the basic and primary condition for the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, it is not the only and exclusive condition as it is also subject to additional terms and restrictions, some are set by law and some apply in light of the interpretation and determination of the various rulings passed by the courts in Lithuania, even recently.
Even if a certain person is allegedly entitled to the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, in accordance with the above eligibility conditions, it is not necessarily and by default also entitles him to hold dual citizenship. In other words, there may be occasions when such person is allegedly entitled to the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, but this can only be achieved subject to the waiver of his other citizenship (such as Israeli).
Therefore, it is clear that, in principle, the viability of the process of reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship will diminish if the same person, even if he is entitled to a reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, does not as well meet the conditions of Lithuanian citizenship for dual citizenship. However, there are circumstances in which it would still be worthwhile to carry out the process even for those who are eligible for Lithuanian citizenship, but who are not entitled to dual citizenship. Nevertheless, each case is required to be examined carefully and individually.
It should be noted that the law in Lithuania regarding the right to hold dual citizenship has changed several times and may change again in the future. The 2016 legislative amendment was enacted in the Lithuanian parliament after the Lithuanian Migration Department followed a policy that effectively prevented Jews and their descendants who left Lithuania from actually exercising their eligibility for Lithuanian citizenship without waiving their additional citizenship, including their Israeli citizenship. This important and significant achievement was achieved after, among other things, our firm was an active and significant partner in dealing with this issue with various parties, in Israel and Lithuania, including as part of professional assistance and counseling for the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel.
As an integral part of the process of reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, the above conditions (both regarding the eligibility of Lithuanian citizenship and dual citizenship) must be proven by data, documents and sufficient evidence in accordance with the Lithuanian law as well as the requirements and policies of the Lithuanian Migration Department. The examination and diagnosis of whether or not a specific document is sufficient under the Lithuanian law, is part of the examination of the legal potential for the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship, which requires experience, professionalism and a special legal expertise in Lithuanian law.
The foregoing is provided as general information only and does not constitute advice, recommendation, legal advice or substitute for an individual legal advice.
It is emphasized that the exclusive discretion to grant Lithuanian citizenship and European passport is dedicated only to the Lithuanian authorities.