Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on January 27th, 2009
pasas2008

The goal of all this.

[UPDATE 16 January 2010]

IMPORTANT!!!

This post continues to be an entry point for people with questions about dual citizenship. (This is the post you should be reading) It is too detailed for that. If you want an overview of who is eligible for dual citizenship in Lithuania via the 1940–1990 loophole or if you want to see what steps are involved in exercising your right to dual citizenship, please read “If you only read one post about Lithuanian dual citizenship.”

Finally, citizenship law changes over time, and I will not update this or other popular posts any longer to reflect changes in the law. It is up to the reader to make sure that she has read the most recent posts in the “Guide to a Passport” series on this website. I also won’t answer questions that are already answered elsewhere in the “Guide to a Passport” series any longer.

[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] The parts of this article about proving flight from Lithuania after 1940 are likely overblown in their importance. It is far more important to prove that the citizens in question left before 1990.

This is the first post in what will be a multi-part series, “Guide to a Passport.” I hope to be done with the series in early Spring, but that depends on both the US government and the government of the Republic of Lithuania

What’s the latest on dual citizenship?

I have written quite a bit about Lithuanian dual citizenship in the past year, and I thought that after Adamkus vetoed the Seimas’s nearly certainly unconstitutional dual-citizenship law (which extends it to the descendants of any Lithuanian citizens who fled the Soviet occupation), the matter was rather dead, at least until a constitutional referendum would arise.

It turns out I was wrong. The veto included a loophole permitting those descendants to get their citizenship without forfeiting their (in my case, US) citizenship. This news is not advertised in the Lithuanian Embassy’s webpage on citizenship, but it is discussed on the consular webpages as well as at the Department of Migration’s webpage. Both of these loophole-noting webpages are in Lithuanian, but they state that dual citizenship is available to those who had Lithuanian citizenship on 15 June 1940 and were either exiled or fled Soviet occupation between that date and 11 March 1990, and (and this is a very big “and”) they can prove it.

Now, I have been told that this dual citizenship loophole is only open for a certain period of time, so people are strongly encouraged to apply for their Lithuanian citizenship yesterday. This is why I’m putting together this guide as I walk through the steps. But first, a bit of my own family history, so people can match their obstacles with mine.

Where I’m from

My grandparents, Pranas and Julija, were born in the Russian Empire. Julija was born in the Suwałki Governorate, in the Zaremciškių kaimas, not far from Alytus. Pranas was born in the Kovno Governorate, in the Antakalnių kaimas, not far from Utena. Upon the establishment of the Lithuanian Republic, both earned, via residency, Lithuanian citizenship. Toward the end of World War II, they fled Lithuania with my baby uncle westward. Via Germany, they ended up in Winnipeg, where my mother, Daiva, was born.

The family then relocated again, settling in Chicago. Pranas, Julija, and Daiva all became, eventually, naturalized US citizens. I was born in Chicago, and with that I earned US citizenship. Upon the reëstablishment of the Lithuanian Republic in 1990, I earned the right to Lithuanian citizenship because of my grandparents. And now, 100 years after the birth of my grandfather, I’m exercising the right.

I tell this family story, because a reader can see a bunch of potential problems in my goal here, namely the hint of a complete lack of a paper trail. My grandparents are both dead, and if they left behind documentation, I don’t know where it is. In other words, I could not be in much worse shape (at least I know their names, for example).

What do I need?

Based on the list provided by the Chicago Consulate:

  • An application asking for citizenship (provided here).
  • Proof that I am who I say I am (my US Passport will suffice).
  • Proof that my grandparents were Lithuanian citizens before 15 June 1940.
  • Proof that my grandparents are my grandparents.
  • Any documentation regarding name changes (doesn’t apply to me).
  • Proof of residency in the US (my driver’s license will suffice).
  • (Proof that my grandparents left Lithuania after 15 June 1940, so that I can qualify for dual citizenship.)

Easy! Out of seven, one doesn’t apply, two I’ve got, and one involves just printing and filling out a form. I’m over half of the way to citizenship! Wait a minute… OK… This will actually be a bit of work… And there’s nothing here about how all documents have to be in Lithuanian… Let’s recombine this mess into a project!

A Roadmap to Citizenship

Let’s reorder that list then, and turn it into a sort of flowchart-type thing, where things are ordered by a chain of events, such that filling out the application becomes the last thing:

  1. Prove that my grandparents are my grandparents.
  2. Prove that my grandparents were Lithuanian citizens before 15 June 1940.
  3. Prove that my grandparents left Lithuania after 15 June 1940.
  4. Prove that I live in the US.
  5. Prove that I am who I say I am.
  6. Translate anything that needs it.
  7. Fill out citizenship application.

This is a much more (to me) logically ordered task list. The beginning of step 1 is the rest of this post.

1. Prove that my grandparents are my grandparents.

This task is actually two tasks: I need to prove that Daiva is my mother. Then I need to prove that Pranas and Julija are Daiva’s parents. The first part I accomplished today.

Now, the Consulate webpages mention the term “Apostille” (or “Apostilė”) over and over. Simply put, it’s a means of certifying for the Lithuanian government that a US government document is real and valid. Wikipedia can explain it in even greater detail and talk about the Hague and stuff, but that’s the gist. Now there’s a catch, though: only the agency that issued the document can affix an apostille to it. I was born in Chicago, so my birth certificate is issued by the State of Illinois. This is handy, since it made getting an apostille easy as pie this morning. My driver’s license, however,  is issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This will cause a bit of trouble when it comes to step 4 on the Roadmap to Citizenship.

In order to get an apostille for my State of Illinois birth certificate, I went to Cyberdrive, the Illinois Secretary of State website. There I found the link to the Index Department, which handles apostilles. I visited the Chicago office (at 17 N. State, suite 1030) this morning, handed over my original birth certificate, paid a $2 fee, and had my fancy apostille in about five minutes.

The next part of this step, proving that Daiva is Pranas and Julija’s child, is more difficult. I can replicate what I did with my birth certificate, but hers was issued by the Province of Manitoba. I’m not traveling to Winnipeg to get a copy of a birth certificate and an apostille for it. Alternatively, I can try to get US documents that attest to my mother’s parentage. Luckily, that should include her naturalization certificates. So getting apostilles for those certificates will be subject of the next post in “Guide to a Passport.”

Costs this post:

  • $2.00 (My birth certificate apostille)
  • Transportation to Index Office (free for me)

Cost to-date of dual citizenship: $2.00

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22 Responses to “The Roadmap to Dual Citizenship, a HOWTO”

  1. Hello!

    I am extremely interested in your posting, for I am also interested in exercising my right to Lithuanian citizenship. My grandparents fled Lithuania after 1940 from the war and ended up in the US. We have literally just today realized that our goal of dual citizenship is attainable and your guide has already helped tremendously! I look forward to keeping in contact with you throughout the process!

    Sincerely,

    Christian
    Cn3909@yahoo.com

  2. Christian,

    Thanks for the encouragement. The next few steps are all typed up and ready for posting–I’m just waiting until they’re complete (that is, for the documents to filter in). I can say now that you should try to focus on the “left after 1940″ part, since that’s the least obvious step to solve, being as it’s so wildly different for everyone. Also, if in doubt, contact your local Lithuanian Consulate. The vice-consul in Chicago has been very helpful to me already.

  3. “… they state that dual citizenship is available to those who had Lithuanian citizenship on 15 June 1940 and were either exiled or fled Soviet occupation between that date and 11 March 1990, and (and this is a very big “and”) they can prove it.”

    I’m sorry but this is a little confusing – what about those who did not leave between those dates? My family lived in Lithuania up till May 1990 – so nothing good on the front of dual citizenship for me?

  4. Frankie,

    The project I’m describing absolutely would not apply to your family’s situation, because you left Lithuania after they redeclared independence. You may still have a claim to citizenship based on your family’s history, but not for dual citizenship, at least as far as I can tell. I’m not a lawyer of course, soo….

  5. In 2006 I applied for Lithuanian Citizenship based on the laws of the Lithuanian constitution at the time.

    I understand that I was entitled to seek Lithuanian citizenship based on my grandparents being Lithuanian residents prior to 1940 and having fled Lithuania post 1940. I understand that this right was available to everyone regardless of their present-day state of citizenship , which in my case is German (although residing in Australia).

    However my timing was unlucky, as just after I had prepared all the required paperwork and applied through the local Lithuanian Consulate, that the Lithuanian Constitutional court ruled that persons in my case were ineligible for dual citizenship, based that the Constitution was wishy-washy and not clearly defined for dual citizens.

    I now understand that this aforementioned ruling by the Lithuanian Constitutional court has now been vetoed by the Lithuanian President, causing the previous Constitution to remain ‘as is’. So on this basis I have reapplied for Citizenship, hastily knowing that a referendum is imminent that will further address citizenship issues that I and many others have, as well as issues of Lithuanians that have immigrated abroad post 1990.

    My main concern is that should a referendum be cast, what are the key questions that will be asked and how will they be phrased? Will the questions read in a way for Lithuanians voters are sympathetic and understanding to Lithuanians citizenship plight living abroad, or will Lithuanians simply cast the vote thinking “We’ll these people have left Lithuania for economic enrichment; and why should they have the privilege to dual citizenship when I’m struggling to make ends meet in Lithuania.”

    I wonder is there a way that provided for Lithuanian Constitutional court original ruling to be appealed, and thus preventing a referendum?

    Anyway I have request the Lithuanian Consulate to proceed with my 2006 application based on the Lithuanian Constitutional court ruling on dual citizenship being vetoed. I eagerly await their response.

  6. VB,

    I’m going to get to your more substantive questions about a referendum in a later post, but there’s a bit of a mixup in your historical narrative. When you applied in 2006, there was no “fled … post 1940” requirement. Dual citizenship was granted widely, at least potentially.

    In 2006, all dual citizenship was stopped, save if the president gave it to you.

    The president can’t veto what the KT decides. Instead what happened is that the KT said that the rules for dual citizenship have to be such that it is rare and unusual. Seimas drew up a law that would restrict dual citizenship in 2008, while making it available again, thinking that this would satisfy the KT’s demands (this is as yet untested). The bill included granting dual citizenship to all citizens who acquire other EU citizenship, etc., and cast a pretty wide net.

    *This bill* that Seimas passed was what Adamkus vetoed. See: http://www.lithchat.com/cultur.....again.html

    However, what I only learned recently was that Adamkus vetoed merely parts of the bill, and the part that granted dual citizenship to the “fled … post 1940” crowd was untouched. Hence it is, for the time being, the law of the land.

    The KT, of course, can strike down the current law (or the new one that was just proposed), which is why many people, myself included, feel that the only way to ensure access to dual citizenship is via constitutional referendum (once we’re citizens, it’s a safe bet that citizenship won’t be taken away, so it’s solidifying the access that’s important).

  7. Do you know of a way in which one can gain Lithuanian citizenship for someone of Lithuanian descent if grandparents left Lithuania and settled in Chicago in 1914, before Lithuania gained independence? I can prove descendence through birth certificate of self and mother and birth/baptism record of grandfather obtained from Lithuanian State Archives.

    My mother was born in the U.S. in 1937 before her father gained U.S. citizenship. Would he have gained Lithuanian citizenship upon Lithuania gaining independence, or would he have been considered a Russian citizen because he held residence in the U.S. at the time? My grandfather’s naturalization papers say he immigrated from Taurage.

    Would one have any chance of gaining citizenship under this scenario?

    Thanks for any information or suggestions you can offer.

    Phil

  8. Phil,

    I know that Lithuanian citizenship was granted in the first republic based on residency at the time of independence. In that case, I would suspect that your grandparents did not get Lithuanian citizenship, because they were already in the US. There may have been some means of acquiring Lithuanian citizenship for people who left before independence, but I know it wasn’t automatically granted. As a result, I don’t think the chances look good for your situation, but I would not present myself as the final authority.

  9. Hi.
    Do you know anything about “descendants of Lithuanians”?It is stated on Lit consular websites that such persons have a right to permanent residency in Lithuania/EU.My ancestors left Lithuania in the late 19th century(great grand parents?).Will I qualify for a permanent resident card,which will let me work/live in the EU?How do I prove my relationship to my ancestors?

    Thank you for your time,Serge Z.Canada

  10. Hi

    Just to understand this categorically:

    If I have proof of citizenship of a parent in pre-1940 but who left pre-1940, AND I now have US citizenship, then I am able to get dual citizenship under the current — but soon to expire — citizenship law? I am thus able to keep my US citizenship?

    Tx
    Joe

  11. Serge, the claim based solely on ethnic grounds, I suspect, has no standing anymore, unless you live in an ethnic homeland of Lithuanians (like far northeastern Poland).

    Joe, if your ancestors left before 1940, you’re eligible for citizenship. You will, however, have to surrender your US passport.

    Please see:

    http://www.ltconsny.org/EN/Citizenship.htm

  12. Hey, I was hoping you could help me out.
    My great grandmother (as well as great grandfather) were born in Lithuania and lived there until about age 20. They then left (in the early 1930s). However, in 1938 my great-grandmother returned, with my grandmother (as a toddler) to Lithuania (her intention was that it would be an extended visit). They got stuck there (from WWII issues), but managed to flee in 1940 (yes, after May) to Russia (which they soon left for Israel). My grandmother has Israeli citizenship, not Lithuanian, and as far as I know she has never attempted to get Lithuanian citizenship.
    Is there any way for me to get Lithuanian citizenship? Or, if my mother was to apply and recieve citizenship would I then be able to get citizenship under her?
    This entire situation is just very confusing…Thank you so much!

  13. Maya, your situation seems to sound more complex than it actually is. If your great grandparents were already living in Lithuania in 1918, or were born there afterwards, then they were Lithuanian citizens. There will hopefully be records suggesting this in the Lithuanian Archives: school reports and the like.

    Assuming your great-grandmother was still a Lithuanian citizen upon return to Lithuania in 1938 and kept her Lithuanian citizenship until fleeing to the USSR after 15 June 1940, then she *should* qualify as a Citizen 0, which would make you eligible for Lithuanian citizenship regardless of what citizenship your grandmother and parents have.

    In other words, your family’s flight during the early- and mid-30s should not actually alter your eligibility, I don’t think, since they returned!

  14. I read with interest a press release dated November 16, stating that president Dalia Grybauskaite now insists on meeting with applicants before granting citizenship. Speaking Lithuanian is now a requirement?! Mine is a little rusty but I could probably get by with a mini immersion experience. Sounds like they’re creating extra hurdles.

  15. hello Ive got a question about my wife getting dual citizenship in lithuania as she is a resident of the usa now and Iam an usa citizen.can both of us get dual citizenship?or can only she if she gets citizenship here in the usa.as she wants usa and Lithuania citizenship,is this possible?thank you wayne and Liubov

  16. Good day

    I am south african but recently obtained the documents of my grand father who fled from lithuania prior to 1940, He was Jewish and running from the war so got on a ship to south africa and thats i suppose where my family started. Your article has been very helpful thanks so much.

    Regards

    Melanie

  17. Tyler Vytas Poskus
    April 8th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Hello,

    I am a sixteen year old canadian citizen, and my grandfather (as well as my grandmother) was a lithuanian citizen before 1940 and they left after WWII. If I’m not mistaken this entitles me to get lithuanian citizenship, I just don’t know how to get started. Also, is there an issue with me being under 18 years of age?

    Thank you,

    Tyler

  18. I have a problem. I am a lithuanian. I left lithuania in 1990. I have obtained citizenship of the country I’m currently living in(lets say country X). In 1997 I visited lithuania using country X’s passport. Before I left lithuania in 1997 I obtained a lithuanian passport, but i left Lithuania using country X’s passport. I had no knowledge of the dual citizenship law. However, I want to visit lithuania again, and I’m being told that if I enter the country they could take away my lithuanian passport and I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country. I’m just wondering if this is true. I do not want to give up country X’s citizenship and I’m forced to be in a position where I cant revisit my home country.

  19. Jurate Aukstikalnis
    September 15th, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Moacir, how nice to find you doing such good deeds! Valio! I just found about all of this and just beginning the process..yikes. Wrote an email to archyvai..they have found my parents birth and marriage certificates. How do you guys pay the 10 euro fee per document? Hope you are happy and well – when you are in Boston come over for dinner

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