IMMIGRATION AND RESIDENCY IN LITHUANIA
Any European Union citizen is free to stay in the Republic of Lithuania for a period up to 3 months within half a year. If the person wishes to stay in the Republic of Lithuania longer, he or she should declare his place of residence in Lithuania. It should be noted that a citizen of the European Union has the right to bring their family members to Lithuania. If family members of the European Union citizen are citizens of a third country and are coming for more than 3 months in the period of one year, they must obtain a residence permit.
Residency and Work Permits in Lithuania
Non-European Union citizens, willing to engage in certain activities in Lithuania such as studies or work must apply for and obtain a temporary residence permit. If a temporary residence permit for studies is issued, non-European citizen enjoys the right to take on part-time work (which is not more than 20 hours per week according to the Art. 46 of the Law on the Status of Aliens). Depending on the reasons for staying in Lithuania, a temporary residence permit may be issued for a period of up to 5 years through the local migration office.
Regarding the work permit, a Lithuanian registered enterprise may employ a foreigner if he/she has a valid work permit issued by the Lithuanian Labour Exchange. However, there are certain exceptions. Citizens of the EU, foreigners holding a permit for permanent residence, foreigners who retained their right to the citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania, foreigners of Lithuanian origin and foreigners who have received their residence permit on the basis of family reunion or who are employees of high qualification, do not require a work permit. Other exceptions are provided in the Law on Legal Status of Aliens.
Possession of a temporary residence permit may grant a right to obtain the work permit. A temporary residence permit is issued for the period of the work permit (up to 2 years). The work permit is not required for persons who work as a head of a company registered in Lithuania.
Employment of non-Lithuanian Residents
There is a certain procedure which shall be applied in the cases of employing a foreigner. One month prior to employment a Lithuanian registered enterprise must register free working place at the local labour exchange and apply for the issue of a work permit. In cases in which the company established in the Republic of Lithuania is under bankruptcy, the right to apply for the work permit is not available. The procedure goes as follows: a local Labour Exchange office examines the application, if a positive decision is reached, local Labour Exchange office the documents to the Lithuanian Labour Exchange, which issues a work permit to the foreigner. The application, depending on qualification of the future foreign employee may take from one to two months. If the application is approved, work permit for a foreign employee will be valid for 2 years.
It shall be noted that if a company is willing to hire a highly qualified employee, there are different requirements. A highly qualified employee shall have a university degree (or other type of degree comparable to a university degree) and the monthly salary for such employee shall be no less than an average gross salary in Lithuania multiplied by 2. A company shall register free working place at the local labour exchange 14 days prior to application for work permit. The deadlines for processing the application are much shorter: local labour exchanges examine the application within 7 days, Lithuanian Labour Exchange issues a work permit within 7 days. Within 3 days Lithuanian Labour Exchange informs Migration Department that work permit has been issued and sends an electronic copy of the permit.
Residence Permit costs and Requirements in Lithuania
When issuing an alien a residence permit for the first time, the alien will usually be issued a temporary residence permit. An alien who applies for the first time for the issue of a residence permit shall lodge an application for the issue of a residence permit with the diplomatic mission or consular post of the Republic of Lithuania abroad. A temporary residence permit for one year may be issued to an alien who intends to engage in lawful activities in Lithuania, provided that the alien:
- Is a sharer in the company, which carried out the activities referred to in its Articles of incorporation for at least the last 6 months prior to the alien's application for the issuance of a temporary residence permit, which has registered at least three full-time workplaces and which has the authorized capital (assets) of at least 28,000 EUR, of which not less than 14,000 EUR is made up of the alien’s investments in the company. The alien shall hold the position of head of collegial or supervisory body, a sharer who has the right to enter into transactions on behalf of the company, or a shareholder, who owns a part of company's shares which is equal to nominal value of 1/3 of the share capital of the company;
- Is a CEO or a member of management or supervisory board of the above mentioned company and the main purpose of coming to Lithuania is to work in this company;
- Is exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit according to the Art. 58 (2) of the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens.
A temporary residence permit for an alien who is engaged in lawful activities in Lithuania will be issued for the period of one year. A repeated residence permit will be issued for a period of two years. If an alien has invested at least 260,000 EUR in the company and the company has at least five full-time workplaces, a temporary residence permit shall be issued for a period of three years. Prior to the issuance of the temporary residence permit, the activity of the company will be evaluated in order to decide if the company is not fictitious.
The person shall have at least 300 EUR per month (3600 EUR per year) of income and a place of residence in Lithuania (registered rent agreement or written consent of the owner is required).
State fee for document administration is 86 EUR, 172 EUR for accelerated procedure and 28 EUR for formalizing a temporary residence permit (56 EUR for accelerated procedure); 60 EUR for the issuance of visa.
Requirements for accommodation
According to the wording of Art. 26 of the Legal Status of Aliens, a temporary residence permit will only be issued in cases where an alien has accommodation where he/she intends to declare his/hers place of residence and when the accommodation meets hygiene requirements, and construction and fire safety regulations. The living space in such accommodation shall be not less than 7 square meters per person. It shall be noted that the living space will be calculated by dividing the total area from the number of adult inhabitants which have declared their place of residence under that address. If a temporary residence permit is issued to an alien who is going to study, minimum living space requirement per person shall be at least 4 square meters. Minimum living space requirement will not be applicable to a foreigner if his/her job involves continual commuting on international routes or if the employer will send the foreigner to work under a service contract to another EU or European Free Trade Association member state.
An alien who applies for the first time for the issue of a residence permit shall lodge an application for the issue of a residence permit with the diplomatic mission or consular post of Lithuania abroad. Within not more than 4 months from the day of application, (2 months in case of accelerated procedure) the decision on the temporary residence permit will be issued. The decision to grant the temporary residence permit is terminated if it is not used within the period of 3 months.
The following documents have to be submitted in order to apply for the temporary residence permit: (i) Official Application form, which will be provided in the consular post of Lithuania abroad; (ii) valid travel document, the validity of which shall be not less than 3 months until the validity of the temporary residence permit expires and its copy; (iii) documents, proving the grounds for the temporary residence permits; (iv) a document proving that the alien can sustain himself in Lithuania; (v) a document proving that the alien has living premises in Lithuania belonging to him or on the basis of the lease agreement; (vi) health insurance document (shall be presented after the decision is issued on granting the temporary residence permit); (vii) document, proving that the state fee is paid State fee for document administration is 86 EUR or 172 EUR for accelerated procedure and 60 EUR for the issuance of visa.
Documents shall be submitted personally to the Lithuanian Embassy in alien’s home country or to the Lithuanian Migration Office directly if alien is legally in the Republic of Lithuania. After a residence permit is issued an alien must stay in Lithuania at least 6 months per year, otherwise the residence permit may be cancelled or it may not be permitted for it to be prolonged. A residence permit is valid for 1 year and it can be prolonged afterwards. Documents for residence permit prolongation shall be submitted to the Lithuanian Migration Office or its local subdivision according to the alien’s declared place of residence in Lithuania.
Family members entering into Lithuania to join the alien who has been issued a temporary residence permit may be issued a temporary residence permit for the same period as the alien. However, current Lithuanian legislation sets further requirements for the alien whose family members wish to reside in Lithuania on the grounds of family reunion. The requirements are the following: the alien should have lived in Lithuania for no less than 2 years, shall have a valid permit to live in Lithuania for one more year and have grounds for acquiring a permanent residence permit. The aforesaid requirements are not applicable for family members of an alien who has a job which requires them to be a highly qualified professional, or coming to perform scientific research and (or) experimental development works as a researcher according to an employment agreement concluded with a scientific research company registered in Lithuania. If these requirements are met, family members have to present same documents as the alien and additionally submit documents proving their relationship status with the alien (marriage, partnership agreement) or that they are the alien's children and are under 18 years of age.
According to official data in 2011, 70% of all residence applications were accepted and 80% of applications from Asian countries were accepted.
The Schengen Area
In 2007, the Council of Ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs of the European Union (EU) adopted the decision on the accession of nine new states - Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia - to the Schengen area. From December 21, 2007 these nine states abolished checks on persons at internal land borders and from March 30, 2008 - checks on persons at air borders within the Schengen area.
Today the Schengen area is composed of 25 states:
- 22 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden;
- 3 non-EU states: Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. From December 12, 2008 Switzerland abolished checks on persons at internal land borders within the Schengen area and from March 29, 2009 will abolish check on persons at air borders within the Schengen area.
Citizens of the 25 states that belong to the Schengen area have equal rights to travel without visas and border control.
The EU Member States Ireland, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Romania do not belong to the Schengen group. The United Kingdom and Ireland still keep control on borders with other EU states (but they are committed to provide police and legal cooperation in criminal cases).
The Schengen group requires only one visa. This means that a person wishing to travel anywhere in the Schengen area needs to get only one visa.
Visas are issued at diplomatic missions or consular offices of the Republic of Lithuania abroad. In order to get a visa an alien must submit:
- a valid travel document;
- an established application form for a Schengen Visa;
- one photo of 35x45 mm, corresponding to the age of the alien;
- the receipt of the paid consular fee which is 60 EUR;
- a valid document certifying his/her health insurance;
In order to get a short-stay visa an invitation letter of a natural or legal person of the Republic of Lithuania for temporary arrival to the Republic of Lithuania contrived by a migration office of the police commissariat must be submitted. For extension of visa a 30 EUR state fee shall be paid. An alien possessing a short-stay visa may enter and stay within the Schengen area for the time period established in the visa but no longer than 90 days in any 180-day period from the first day of entry.
Citizens from the following countries may enter Lithuania without visa:
Albania (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Andorra; Argentina; Armenia (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Bosnia and Herzegovina (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Brunei Darussalam; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile; China (for holders of diplomatic and official passport only); Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Guatemala; Greece; Honduras; Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (for holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport only); Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Korea (South); Latvia; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Macau Special Administrative Region (for holders of Macau Special Administrative Region passport only); Macedonia (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Malaysia; Malta; Morocco (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Mexico; Moldova (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Monaco; Montenegro (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Norway; Panama; Paraguay; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russia (for holders of diplomatic passport only); San Marino; El Salvador; Serbia (for holders of diplomatic passport only); Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey (for holders of diplomatic, official and special passports only); Ukraine (for holders of diplomatic and official passport only); United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Vatican City (Holy See); Venezuela.
Under this regime, foreigners from these countries may stay in Lithuania without a visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, counting from the day of entry.