Apr 292020

Even if you do not qualify for dual Lithuanian citizenship, you may get many of the same benefits through a right-to-nationality certificate.

Benefits of the certificate

Lithuanian right-to-citizenship certificates offer numerous benefits that citizenship of Lithuania offers:
a)A possibility to get a residence permit in Lithuania. Without a right-to-citizenship certificate, getting a Lithuanian residence permit may be complicated as it may require to, for example, have a job in Lithuania, and there are limitations on giving jobs to foreigners in Lithuania, making this impossible to many. The right-to-citizenship certificate waives such requirements. The residence permit then leads to access to the European Union. Somebody with a Lithuanian residence permit may freely move across the entire European Union.
b)Ability to get Lithuanian citizenship in a quicker way, if the owner of the certificate would so decide.

Unlike with Lithuanian citizenship, the right-to-citizenship certificate does not require one to drop his/her previous nationality.
As the certificate is not a nationality on itself, it also doesn‘t carry the rights and duties that are directly related to citizenship, such as having to perform military service or being able to vote and be elected.

Who qualifies to the Lithuanian descent certificates

In order to qualify for a right-to-nationality certificate, you have to qualify for Lithuanian citizenship. Basically, there are two ways: having had a great grandparent who was a Lithuanian citizen or having had a Lithuanian grandparent (note: „Lithuanian“ is not the same as „Lithuanian citizen“, read here). The two ways lead to different types of certificates (the „right of nationality restoration certificate“ or „certificate of Lithuanian descent“) but they are similar in all but name.

The caveat is, however, that far from everybody who qualifies to Lithuanian citizenship is allowed to retain their current citizenship after receiving the Lithuanian one. In many cases, however, people are not ready to drop their former nationality, and, in these cases, the certificate is useful.

Who benefits from the certificates?

For many, the certificate is a „stepping stone“: the person takes it as a form of „guarantee“ that could be „converted“ into Lithuanian citizenship or a residence permit if the person would so decide. Such „conversion“ is quicker than having to get citizenship or a residence permit „from scratch“.

For many others, the certificate itself has a symbolic meaning, a reconnection with the homeland of their parents, grandparents, or great grandparents, without having to accept the duties and obligations of the citizen, such as a (small) possibility of being conscripted for military service.

Interview with Collin White who received a certificate of Lithuanian descent.

Augustinas Žemaitis

E-mail: augustinas.zemaitis@gmail.com

  42 Responses to “Lithuanian descent certificate – a citizenship alternative”

  1. This is fascinating. I had no idea such a process existed and will definitely look into it.

  2. Thank you so much for this information…starting the research!

  3. I didn’t know about this. I am dual passport.

  4. Since all four of my grandparents were born in Lithuania, I am as Lithuanuan-blooded as I can get. I myst look into the certificate.

  5. My 4 grandparents came from Lithuania.How do I get citizenship

    • We have another article about the Lithuanian citizenship restoration. There you can read more about who qualifies. Generally, it is so (though please the read exceptions and definitions in the article linked):
      1.People whose forefathers (at least one grat grandparent) was a Lithuanian citizen until 1940 may restore citizenship and get dual citizenship.
      2.People who are of Lithuanian descent but their forefathers were not citizens until 1940 may get just Lithuanian citizenship, renouncing their current citizenship.
      3.Both groups may get a Lithuanian residence perimt or a right-to-nationality certificate explained here, as an alternative to citizenship.
      4.In all cases, you need to prove your right by documents, some of which you may have yourself while others may be acquired from the Lithuanian archives. We help in acquiring those documents.
      5.Then, you need to apply for citizenship. We help with this. In case of a negative decition you may appeal to the court of law. In case you are unable to find enough documents, you may also ask the court of law to establish that your forefather was a citizen of Lithuania or was a Lithuanian. We also represent our clients in the court.

      Please contact us at augustinas.zemaitis@gmail.com if you need our services.

  6. I have the same situation when you get the info please post me of the difficulty and cost thank you Peter Skarnulis

  7. Does such certificate allow you to also work in Lithuania or do you have to get a work permit? Does it allow you to live anywhere in the EU or to work anywhere in the EU?

    • If you have a right to this cerfiticate and get a residence permit in Lithuania, you don’t need a separate work permit.

      The general procedure for those immigrants *not of Lithuanian descent* who want to live/work in Lithuania is such: first, he/she needs to get a work permit (which is often not that easy, as Lithuanian law prefers Lithuanian employees) and only then he/she could apply for a residence permit. In case a person loses his/her work, he could lose the residence permit as well and must leave Lithuania.

      The procedure for those of Lithuanian descent is simpler: one can directly apply for a residence permit, and this permit will automatically allow engaging in activities (e.g. work) in Lithuania; but, unlike with “regular immigrants”, you don’t need to work in order not to lose the permit. You may, in theory, still lose it, however, if you don’t live in Lithunaia.

      As for the certificate, it is useful if you may want to move to Lithuania in the future but not necessarily now. In such a case, you may apply for the certificate (and pass through the legal procedures of proving yourself being of Lithuanian descent, which may take e.g. 6 months, although the exact timing depends on various variables). Then, once you decide to move to Lithuania, you won’t need to prove all this again and you would simply bring the certificate to the authorities as a proof of your Lithuanian descent.

      The residence permit in Lithuania allows free movement in the European Union, although it may depend on a particular European country on what activities does it allow to people with a Lithuanian residence permit. It is useful to check the laws of the country in question.

      • My great grandmother and father came to American so I should be able to apply then?

        • If your father was a Lithuanian, you can apply for the certificate.
          If your grandparent was a Lithuanian, you can apply for the certificate.
          If only your great grandparent was a Lithuanian from Lithuania, then you would also need to prove your grandparent was a Lithuanian as well, even if born in the USA. That may be possible through proving his descent, his knowledge of Lithuanian language, his attendance (i.e. baptism, marriage) of a Lithuanian church in Americas, etc. There is no exact list of what has to be proven in such a case.

  8. I am first generation Lithuanian. Parents and brother came to US in 1949. Is it worth getting a duel citizenship? What is the cost to do that?

    • Lithuanian citizenship offers abilities to live, work, and study not solely in Lithuania but also in the entire European Union. You may travel freely to any country of the European Union as if you would be its citizen. Also, some non-European countries offer visa-free access to Lithuanian citizens but not to American citizens – you can go there more easily with a Lithuanian passport. You could also vote in Lithuanian elections if you would so want. Last but not the least, citizenship has a great symbolic value of restoring the connection to your ancestry.

      As for the costs, they depend on the situation. The breakdown is typically such:
      A.The official Lithuanian state fees for the application. These are rather small (currently around 50 USD) and must be paid by everyone equally.
      B.The costs of procuring proofs that one is entitled to citizenship. For some, these are zero (as they have, for example, the original Lithuanian passports of their (great-grand)parents who emigrated), for others, this may require either a simple or a more extensive search in Lithuanian archives. We do provide archive search services.
      C.The costs of translations and legalization of non-Lithuanian documents so they could be used in Lithuania (e.g. your own birth certificate if you are born abroad). Yet again, this may be lower for somebody who speaks Lithuanian or is from a country that has legal agreements with Lithuania over mutual recognition of each other’s documents. For example, it is generally more difficult/costly to legalize Canadian documents so they could be used in Lithuania than it is for US documents, where a simpler procedure applies, and it is even simpler for e.g. German documents; the translation prices also vary by language with it being cheaper to translate from popular languages such as English. We do offer translation and legalization services.
      D.The costs of legal representation with Lithuanian authorities (e.g. hiring an attorney). These are smaller in simpler cases which are evaluated by the Migration Department but they are more expensive for cases that need a court of law (typically these are the cases where the situation is less clear and where few proofs of right-to-citizenship exist; the cases of those whose parents emigrated after World War 2 are typically easy). In any case, compared to the USA legal costs, the legal costs in Lithuania are small. We offer representation services in both the Lithuanian migration institutions and courts of law and the costs can be pre-agreed rather than calculated on a per-hour basis.

      We will contact you by e-mail and you could describe, if you are interested, what documents you have so we could calculate the costs.

  9. I am a decedent of Belarusian-Lithuanian-Polish commonwealth. Was born in Belarus and lived in Lithuania prior coming to the States. I had Lithuanian passport on hand (the REAL) Lithuanian passport, NOT a Lithuanian during the Soviets. I wonder, if I would qualify. I would love to go back there one day and maybe retire there. Beautiful country.

    • If you had Lithuanian citizenship (as I understand, after 1990), you may opt to have it returned to you (i.e. become a Lithuanian citizen again). In this case, though, you would have to renounce your current citizenship (e.g. the US one).

      This is a different procedure from a citizenship restoration, as restoration is for those who had citizenship before 1940 and their descendants.

      The certificate here is for those who have a right to Lithuanian citizenship through descent or right to restore it, rather than those who have a right to return it. Whether a residence permit is possible is not exactly clear for now as the precedent is not yet established (the law specifies that the residence permit is available to those who have “retained a right to citizenship” but does not explains whether that right means solely restoration or also the return of citizenship).

  10. If you obtain this certificate and want to have a visa for EU residency, for how many years must you live in Lithuania before you can live in another EU country with this visa? Thank you.

  11. My grandfather was born in Lithuania and I would like to obtain dual citizenship and a Lithuanian passport.
    Can you help? Thank you

  12. So if you were born in Lithuania but have lost the LT citizenship because you naturalized – can you get this certificate?

    • Yes, if you are (and at least one of your grandparents was) a Lithuanian, this is possible.

      The term “Lithuanian” is not fully defined anywhere and is evaluate don a case-by-case basis. Merely being born in Lithuania is probably not enough for it. There were probably children of foreign dimplomats who were born in Lithuania, for example, but that would not make them Lithuanians.

      However, if you had Lithuanian citizenship, you (or at least one of your grandparents) speak/spoke Lithuanian, etc., there should be no problems.

  13. Hello

    Both my paternal grandparents were born in Lithuania. Grandfather in 1889 and Grandmother in 1892. They left Lithuania in 1913. From these ties I have direct family living in Lithuania and I am in touch with them. My father and I were born in Scotland.

    Could you please let me know if I would qualify a) For citizenship? and/or b) The ‘Right to Citizenship Certificate’? 3) Would both of these allow me to obtain a Lithuanian Passport? I currently have a British passport but reside as an EU resident in France with French residency card and driver licence.

    My interest is that I am proud of my Lithuanian heritage and also that I wish to remain an EU citizen because of the problems created by Brexit.

    Please also let me know what costs are involved.

    Kind regards Paul Bosas
    (John Paul Bosas)

    • a)You may qualify for citizenship if your grandparent was a Lithuanian, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. But, given your story, that two of your grandparents were born in Lithuania, it is most likely you could prove it (we may help).
      b)The same goes for the certificate. Certificate does not require to renounce current citizenship in any case, however.
      3)Only citizenship allows to obtain the Lithuanian passport. However, right to coitizenship allows to get a residence permit which, for various purposes of traveling or doing business within the EU, may be just as good.

  14. I would just like to post here that I was recently granted a permanent residence permit in Lithuania based on my certificate of Lithuanian descent, and it does NOT allow for freedom of movement within the EU. The permit that does that must state the words “Ilgalaikis Gyventojas EB” on it, and requires living in Lithuania for 5 years. My permit is indeed a permanent residence permit (Leidimas Nuolat Gyventi), but does NOT include those additional words which would make it valid as an EU Long Term Residence Permit as issued under EU Directive 2003/109/EC. Just in case anyone thought otherwise as I did I thought I would post this here

    • Thank you for posting this.

      It appears to be bad news as my situation could be similar.

      Perhaps the sponsors of this site could offer additional guidance in the form of another reply to your post.

  15. Hi, I was born in Lithuania in 1958. Emigrated to USA in 1980. My parents and grand parents from Belarus. Can I apply for Lithuanian citizenship

    • If your parents were citizens of Lithuania until 1940, you should be able to and we may help with th elegal process.

      However, if your parents were Soviet settlers (i.e. they moved into Lithuania after 1940, when it was occupied, and had no relations to independent Lithuania before that) then you could not.

  16. My paternal great grandparents immigrated in the 1890s and early 1900s from what was then considered the Russian Federation, but is now Lithuania (Eišiškės & Ukmerge). With proper documentation (tax records) would I qualify for the right-to-nationality certificate? Thank you

    • You probably mean Russian Empire rather than Federation (as the Federation one was created in 1991).

      If they emigrated so long ago, they weren’t considered citizens most likely. As such, you would need to prove your *grandparent* (i.e. their child) was a Lithuanian. There is no definitive list of acceptible documents, it is evaluated ona case-by-case basis. But any of those would work in your favor”
      -Baptism, marriage or other documents, if they are from a Lithuanian church in the USA (if they went there, but there were parishes in Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, UK as well) – proving he/she was raised among Lithuanians.
      -Anything in Lithuanian written by your grandparent (letters and such) – proving he/she spoke Lithuanian.
      -Membership data of Lithuanian-American organizations and societies.
      -Letters to Lithuania or from there.

  17. Hello Augustinas,

    Is it possible to get a temporary visa residence visa on grounds of Lithuanian ancestry through a great-great grandparent? My great-great grandfather left Lithuania in 1900, his wife left in 1910. My great-grandfather was born in 1917 in the USA. I suspect this is going too far back, but I am desperate to find a way back. Do you have any thoughts about this

    • This is not necessarily too far back. All depends on wherever your grandparent was a Lithuanian. There is no finite list of facts that prove this but, e.g., we have successfully argued in court somebody was a Lithuanian based on such facts as the person keeping Lithuanian traditions or being bapitized in a Lithuanian church. Something of this could have been easily possible for your grandparent who would have been born ~1930s as Lithuanian communities were still often tight-knit back then, even for the 3rd generation. So, to answer your question, if you can prove your grandparent was a Lithuanian, you may get a residence permit – otherwise, not so. This depends on facts and documents available to prove those facts.

  18. I am writing on behalf of CBI Money to inquire about the possibility of obtaining an double Legalizations(Lithuanian & Cayman) and remote apostille service for our company documents. Specifically, we would like to know if you are able to provide Hague certified Apostille for Cayman/BVI company materials, such as Register of member or document of Register of members with non-conditional Voting Rights.

    please check if you can make or not, thanks

  19. Hello Augustinas,

    thank you for your article, it was really important to read.
    I would like to ask you: if I already have certificate of Lithuanian descent, do I have a right to get residence or dual citizenship?
    I know that it’s not allowed to have dual citizenship in Lithuania, but there are exceptions.

    • You have a right to get citizenship and/or residence permit (without any other strings applicable to those of non-Lithuanian descent, e.g. without a requirement to study or work in Lithuania).

      If you fall under one of the exceptions for dual citizenship, you may get dual citizenship as well. Otherwise, it would just be a single citizenship.

  20. I also wanted to ask if the certificate of Lithuanian decent itself gives me the right to apply for right-to-nationality certificate or for residence?

    • Certificate of Lithhuanian descent basically is a right-to-nationaliy certificate.

      Right-to-nationality certificate is a generic term that covers two documents, each of which provide similar rights.

      Lithuanian dscent certificate is a right-to-nationality certificate for those who prove descent from Lithuanian grandparents (not necessarily Lithuanian citizens), leading to a possible simplified procedure for Lithuanian nationality acquisition; whereas Right to restore citizenship certificate is a certificate for those who prove descent from Lithuanian citizens great grandparents, leading to a possible procedure of a Lithuanian nationality restoration.

  21. Hello Augustinas,

    I am interested in applying for a Certificate of Lithuanian descent. I was wondering if I could share my Lithuanian ancestry information with you for a consultation to determine my best pathway.

    Thank you

  22. If I apply and am granted citizenship by descent, yet living in the United States, does my wife and child also obtain citizenship?

    • Every case is evaluate dindividually but it may be possible for your child to get citizenship. With each next generation it may be more difficult but often if a parent can get a citizenship so could child.

      On the other hand, your wife would not be entitled to citizenship unless she is of Lithuanian descent herself.

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