Now that I’ve completed the first step on the Roadmap to Citizenship, proving that I’m my grandparents’ grandson, it’s time to move on to the second step, which is proving that my grandparents were citizens of Lithuania before 15 June 1940, which covers this installment of the “Guide to a Passport” series.
This step I actually completed back in July 2003, but if I was not able to complete step 1, then there would have been no point in completing this step.
Back in 2003, I was in Lithuania, and I knew I would need to prove that my grandparents were citizens before I could get my own citizenship (back then, dual citizenship was available without the “and left Lithuania after 15 June 1940″ caveat). So I took a cab up to the Lietuvos centrinis valstybės archyvas. There I filled out two forms, one for each grandparent, asking for proof of citizenship. The forms, or at least ones like the one I filled out, are available online. I don’t know what I paid, but it was probably less than $30 total. About a month later, I received a letter from Lithuania with two cover letters and photocopies of my grandfather’s high school transcript, his university ID, and a personnel file from the Lithuanian army. They also included my grandmother’s university transcript. The Vice-Consul in Chicago told me that the proof of my grandfather’s serving in the Lithuanian Army is sufficient proof, but I’ll bring in everything.
The photocopies all include two separately-colored stamps authenticating their validity as photocopies. Unfortunately, these documents are not sufficient to prove that my grandparents left Lithuania after 15 June 1940, even though my grandmother’s degree was granted on 12 June 1940. She told me about this the only (I think) time we talked about her life before North America–the occupation of Lithuania was contemporaneous with her graduating from VDU. As a result, in a grim twist, had the Soviets marched in ten days earlier, step 3 on my Roadmap to Citizenship–proving that my grandparents left Lithuania after the Soviet invasion–might have been unnecessary.
One lingering question is why I don’t use birth certificates to prove citizenship. The answer, while not immediate, is rather obvious: my grandparents were born, as mentioned in the first post of the series, in the Russian Empire. Though their birthplaces ended up in the Lithuanian Republic, and they had residency in Lithuania at the time of the blanket granting of citizenship to residents, the fact that my grandfather (to use the more extreme example) was born in what would become, eight years after his birth, Lithuania, doesn’t mean that he was still living there. He could have moved to Moscow as a baby, after all.
Furthermore, documents relating to vital statistics, like birth, death, and marriage, are not held at the LCVA. Instead, they are at the Lietuvos valstybės istorijos archyvas, which has its own payscale and request forms. The Archyvas clearly states that citizenship queries should be posed to the LCVA, so that’s where I turned in 2003.
Finally, it’s very convenient for me to have been in Vilnius to put in the order for these documents. But what if I had not made that trip? Could I have made my request online? How would that have worked? The answers to those questions, along with the ominous return of the LCVA, will make up the following post.
Cost this post:
- $20.00 (approx. fee for searches and copies for two individuals)
- $10 (approx. cab fee from Senamiestis to LCVA)
Cost to-date of dual citizenship: $54.50