Ruling parties suggest Lithuanian passport for emigrants (Updated)
Some members of the ruling political group of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Social Democratic Party on Tuesday proposed establishing the institute of the Lithuanian passport as an alternative to emigrants who do not have Lithuanian citizenship.
The Lithuanian passport would provide emigrants with nearly all rights enjoyed by citizens, except for the right to run for and vote in elections, however, would still be able to be candidates for municipal councils.
According to the bill registered by MPs Ramūnas Karbauskis, Andrius Palionis, Eugenijus Jovaiša, Juozas Bernatonis and Arūnas Gumuliauskas, holders of such passports would enjoy facilitated procedures for restoring or acquiring the Lithuanian citizenship, as well as regain the citizenship.
Furthermore, holders of the passports would be able to arrive and reside and work in Lithuania, as well as have access to education, studies and research privileges.
The bill suggests the Lithuanian passport would be available to all persons of Lithuanian origin, i.e., persons whose parents or grandparents or one of the parents or grandparents are Lithuanian and who considers themselves to be Lithuanian.
According to the bill, Lithuanian passports would also be available to Lithuanians who acquired the Lithuanian citizenship after the country regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, as well as their spouses, children and grandchildren.
Potential applicants for the passports would be children and grandchildren of persons who had the Lithuanian citizenship before the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania on June 15 of 1940.
The MPs behind the bill say that the institute of Lithuanian passport could be one of the instruments to curb emigration and encourage emigrants to return to Lithuania.
"The passport of Lithuanians is like a one-stop principle – persons of Lithuanian origin would no longer need to make repeated applications and prove his status whenever he wanted to live in Lithuania, study in Lithuania, regain his citizenship, etc. The document would work in Lithuania as an identity document, as well as a travel document in foreign countries in certain cases," they said.
If approved, the Law on Passport of Lithuanians would take effect in 2018.
Lithuania's parliament has lately been discussing the possibility to considerably expand the circle of individuals eligible for dual citizenship of Lithuania and another country. After discussions, the parliament has turned to the Constitutional Court for an explanation whether dual citizenship can be allowed for Lithuanian citizens who emigrated to countries of the European Union (EU) and NATO after the country regained independence in 1990.
The Constitutional Court has concluded that dual citizenship is only possible in exceptional cases, and any changes to the scheme would require amending the Constitution – a move that can only be made by way of referendum.