Essential provisions of the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens, which are favourable to foreign investors
Amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens, that came into force at the beginning of 2017, made life much easier for foreigners who have invested or intend to invest in Lithuania, and they are still relevant. Below is the summary of key aspects.
Much faster issue of new residence permits. The new provisions doubled the validity of temporary residence permits issued to the shareholders – now they are valid for two years, while the application procedure was cut in half to two months (one month for urgent requests).
Possibility to bring family members turned into reality. The previous two-year transition period for family members is no longer applied so that company shareholders and CEOs holding temporary residence permits are able to bring their family members. The permit issue procedure for family members was also shortened to up to two months (one month for urgent requests).
More flexible job creation targets. Like many countries, Lithuania is interested in creation of new jobs. This applies to foreign-owned companies as well if their shareholders wish to obtain temporary residence permits. However, state interference is very limited as the new rules no longer set a target number for new jobs, but only require at least two average salaries per company.
Extra benefits for bigger investors.
The law establishes minimum investment requirements: a foreigner who intends to obtain a temporary residence permit as a shareholder is obliged to invest at least EUR 14,000 and hold at least 30% of shares of the company. Equity capital of the company to be invested in must amount to at least EUR 28,000. On the day documents for temporary residence permit are submitted the company must have been operating for at least six months.
Like the previous version, the amended law enables foreigners to obtain temporary residence permits for three years if they invest at least EUR 260,000 and create five jobs in addition to holding at least 30% of the shares or acting as CEO.
There is also a new rule that allows foreigners to reside in Lithuania for three years if they are a CEO in a company with equity of at least EUR 500,000 and at least 10 employees who are paid an average or higher salary. The employees may be Lithuanian nationals, EU citizens or skilled third country nationals.
Possibility to obtain a Start-up visa. In fact these are not real visas, but annual residence permits with a possible extension for another year.
Compared with investors in regular companies, start-up shareholders are entitled to a facilitated permit procedure: they are not required to create any specific number of jobs, pay higher-than-minimum salaries or make additional investments in equity capital. Moreover, start-up shareholders can bring their family members.
The law defines a start-up as a company that operates in the field of innovative technologies or other innovations significant for Lithuania's economic and social development. Compliance with these criteria – whether or not the investor is engaged in such activities and whether or not he has the required qualifications, funding and business plan – is certified by VŠĮ Versli Lietuva, in accordance with the Order of the Minister of Economy "On the approval of guidelines of the assessment procedure to be applied for establishing as to whether or not activities of the company to be incorporated are related to introduction of innovative technologies or other innovations significant for Lithuania's economic and social development, and whether or not the foreigner has the required qualifications, funding and business plan". The start-up visas are subject to single issuance only. Extension of temporary residence permits is subject to provisions and rules described in the beginning.