Dual Citizenship in Lithuania

The topic of dual citizenship is getting more and more attention from the politicians and the society in Lithuania these days. Taking into account the increasing scale of emigration and considering the dimension of globalization, the simplified process of granting dual citizenship is a way to maintain the relations between emigrants and Lithuania, and to prevent nation decline. The critics, however, state that emigrants are too distant from their home country to be able to participate in its governance.

The process of granting dual citizenship today

Today the system of granting dual citizenship is far from flexible. In the article 12 of the Constitution it is stated “With the exception of individual cases provided for by law, no one may be a citizen of both the Republic of Lithuania and another state at the same time”. Exceptions are provided for the citizens and their progenies, who left Lithuania during the occupation. However, this exception is not applicable to the citizens who left after the restoration of independence; in such cases, they can seek dual citizenship exceptionally for person’s merits to Lithuania.

The public discussions of the cases of famous people show the inflexibility of the system and raise the society’s interest in the topic. For example, a famous basketball player Žydrūnas Ilgauskas has quite recently lost his Lithuanian citizenship. After accepting the citizenship of the United States of America, Ž. Ilgauskas, who had been promoting Lithuania’s name in the NBA league for 14 years, could not keep his Lithuanian citizenship in accordance to Lithuanian law. This case showed quite a bit of resentment from the society: can it be that people, who, for various reasons, choose to live abroad, become non-Lithuanians or unwanted by their country?

The referendum initiative and future prospects

The Court has stated, that, in order to increase the circle of people to be granted dual citizenship, a constitutional amendment is needed; it can only be reached by holding a referendum. The Liberals Movement Political Group in the Seimas is initiating a decision to hold a referendum for dual citizenship in October next year together with the Seimas elections. Constitutional amendment for the citizenship can be enacted by the agreement of more than 50 % of the citizens, who have the right to vote and are included in the voters’ lists.

The results of the referendum should be positive by the estimation of Fastmigration lawyers. The issue of emigration touches many Lithuanian families as almost 40 thousand people emigrate from the country each year; this promotes a positive attitude towards the simplification of the process of grating dual citizenship. These tendencies have been revealed by the public poll – already in the year of 2009, 70 % of Lithuania’s citizens showed their support for dual citizenship.

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