[UPDATE 8 July 2009] Having received my letter of citizenship from the government, described here, I can say that, in fact, showing proof of flight from 1940–1990 is still important, but that using ITS‘s services is sufficient.
[UPDATE 15 April 2009] Having submitted my application, and having had nearly no attention paid to this part of my application, I wonder if my understanding of the law is overly pedantic. It now seems to me that the most important things to show are that your (grand)parents were citizens before 1940 and that they left Lithuania before 1990.
This installment of the “Guide to a Passport” is, perhaps, the most important, because it’s the installment that describes the step of how one proves that they or their ancestors left Lithuania after 15 June 1940. Without this step, my petition for citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania loses its dual citizenship flavor. Every other step is necessary to get a Lithuanian passport, but this step is the one that, from my understanding, prevents my having to forfeit over my US passport. That said, it’s also, perhaps, the most difficult step to prove, so it relies a bit on luck.
That said, it’s a step of dubious future value, as recent laws presented to the Seimas seem to drop this requirement, as I indicated earlier.
Quick family history, for background: my grandparents were living in and around Alytus during World War II. They got married in Miroslavas, which is about eight miles southwest of Alytus, in 1942. My uncle was born in 1943. The whole family fled Lithuania in 1944 and ended up in Germany. From there, they emigrated to Canada in 1949 before ending up, ten years later, in Chicago.
The only documents I have that prove any of this are my mother’s birth certificate (born in Canada in 1950) and her naturalization certificate, from when she became a US citizen after her arrival in 1959. And since the Lietuvos Archyvas, as described in my previous post, was only told to find evidence of my grandparents’ citizenship pre-1940, they did not also try to find anything from after that date (like my uncle’s birth certificate or my grandparents’ marriage certificate).
It seems there are three avenues of approach here, each with benefits and defects. And it also seems like neither avenue, by itself, would be enough.
1. Get documents proving that my grandparents were not in Lithuania after 1940 and before 1990
This is confusing because of how easy it could be. My grandfather died in Michigan in 1986. Obviously, then, he was outside of Lithuania during the time period in question. The death certificate even includes a place of residence, a social security number, and a field that says he was a citizen of the “U. S. A.” The notarized copy I have would not be good enough for the application, but for $39, I can get a rushed copy authenticated with an apostille by just filling out this form, available from the Michigan government.
Another option is getting a “certified true copy” of my grandparents’ naturalization documents from the State Department. Of course, these documents then need to get apostilles from the Office of Authentications. This involves two mailings and an $8 fee per document. The Dutch Embassy in Washington has a good webpage detailing the process.
Of course, my grandparents’ (and mom’s) naturalization documents will only prove that they came to the US from Canada. Perhaps it would be easier to get the documents indicating my grandparents’ arrival in Canada in 1949.
All of the Canadian immigration documents since 1935 are still under the control of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and earlier documents are part of Library and Archives Canada. However, the Canadian Genealogy Centre tells me that any Canadian Citizen can fill out an Access to Information Request Form and demonstrate that the individual they are asking about has been dead for 20 years (or has given consent). Then, for $5, they get a certified copy of the immigration papers.
This would be great, except that I am not a Canadian Citizen. Consultation with the people at the Canadian archives led me to the consulate in Buffalo. In the end, I just asked a friend in Canada to fill out the request form.
So what have I done? I’ve asked the Michigan government for my grandfather’s death certificate (rushed). When that comes, I’ll have all the pieces in place for my application. I also started fishing expeditions among the Canadian and US immigration offices, but that will be just icing on the cake. The death certificate should be substantial.
2. Get documents proving that my grandparents were still in Lithuania after 1940
Of course, even with the first step taken care of, I still need to prove that my grandparents left after 15 June 1940. Proving that they came to Canada in 1949 helps not at all, since who’s to say they hadn’t been living in Germany since 1936?
For this, I turned to the Lithuanian Archive again. It turns out that in 1942, they had a census of every person living in the country. If my grandparents were still there then, then they should appear on the census, no?
After consultation with the generally very helpful people at the LCVA over email, they recommended that I make a request regarding their living in Lithuania. Paying for it was very tricky, however–there’s no easy way for a foreigner to pay for their services. So I had a friend in Lithuania pay for it with his debit card online (doing a debit transfer), and now I owe him a beer or two. Alternatively, I could have paid in euro, but that would have cost 15Eur. Not worth it, because, the expedited search cost only 20.80Lt.
I made the request, had my friend pay, and got a letter two weeks or so later from the archive, telling me that, yes, they found my grandfather’s name, occupation (“Mayor”), and address in the 1942 writeup.
Though I don’t have documents that prove his residency, this letter from the director should suffice to show he was still in Lithuania after 1940. The death certificate (above) should prove that he left before 1990. Put together, they should cover everything.
3. Try to kill two birds with one stone
This is the holy grail. Here what would be great is some kind of documentation saying that my grandparents left for Germany, were in camps until 1949, and then went to Canada. That would, by itself, prove everything. I asked a faculty member here whom I’ve worked for who specializes in Modern Jewish History about where I could find these kinds of German documents. He suggested the International Tracing Service based in Arolsen, Germany. I made a request, but I have yet to hear back.
Typically, I’ve waited until I’ve gotten information back before posting about the steps I undertook in order to receive the information or documents. However, since I think that, once I get my grandfather’s death certificate, I’ll be ready to go straight to the application process, I’m posting this now. The next step will involve the final step of the roadmap (proving that I am who I say I am) as well as the actual application.
Costs this post:
- $1.30 for envelope and stamp to LT
- $7.60 (20.80Lt) for expedited request from Lithuanian Archives
- $40.86 for $39 money order for expedited death certificate + postage and envelope.
Cost to-date of dual citizenship:$104.26