Grybauskaitė vetoes bill easing restrictions on repeat residence permits for foreigners
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė has vetoed a bill proposed by Social Democrat MP Algirdas Sysas and adopted by the Seimas (parliament) that suggest that certain requirements for third-country nationals would only apply for their first application for residence permits in Lithuania, and that the permit would later be extended almost automatically.
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Grybauskaitė said the amendment paves the way for bogus businesses, while the State Security Department warned it would give dangerous persons access to the Schengen visa-free zone, presidential adviser Lina Antanavičienė told journalists at the President's Office on Wednesday.
"Up until now, third-country businessmen holding temporary residence permits in Lithuania who want to have them extended a year later had to prove they were conducting operations, employed at least three citizens of Lithuania or permanent residents of Lithuania and had certain capital. The Seimas-approved provision scrapped the requirements for foreigners aiming to extend the residence permit in Lithuania – this means that from now the permits for such persons to live in our country would be extended automatically without any additional conditions or safeguards," said the presidential adviser.
Under the amendment, a foreigner from a third country applying for a permanent residence permit in Lithuania for the first time for business reasons would have to have a business for at least six months, its capital should be over €28,000, and the total wage bill should be at least two average monthly salaries.
Upon obtaining the permit for two years, the foreigner would be able to extend the permit without any restrictions, even if his company is no longer in business.
According to Grybauskaitė, the amendments will allow third-country residents to establish bogus companies in Lithuania for the sole purpose of obtaining residence permits in Lithuania and free travel within the Schengen zone.
"Lithuania is a transit country, and after the safeguards were introduced a few years ago to burden the founding of bogus companies, the number of decisions to first-time applications for residence permits for legitimate operations declined by a factor of four – from 4,278 to 888 per year. Therefore, the legal provision would allow third-country nationals to again establish bogus businesses and take advantage of the legal gap to get residence permits in Lithuania," said Antanavičienė.
When asked about the veto, Sysas said "I don't see the information that the president and the President's Office have. It may be more difficult for me to be unbiased here. However, I think that the security vector is defeating the vector of economic benefit and the solution of the problem of people who are fleeing the East as economic migrants. Every service should do its job to keep the harmful elements from getting here, every service gets tax-payer money. Of course, the easiest way would be not to do any work and say that everyone is a potential criminal and should be left out. (The State Security Department) is probably is opting for the easier way out."
"More time is probably spent on spying on politicians and writing reports rather than fighting outside enemies, which would sneak into Lithuania and aim to destibilize the situation in Lithuania. However, we are short on labour," he stated.
The legal amendments to the status of foreigners in Lithuania were adopted by the Seimas in late June. Initiated by the government, they were aimed at facilitating employment and temporary residence for highly qualified professionals and founders of startups businesses involved in new technologies or other innovations significant to the Lithuanian economy.