Permanent Residency in Lithuania: Who Can Get It and How

Permanent Residency in Lithuania: Who Can Get It and How

Lithuania offers small cities with historic architecture, picturesque views of the Baltic Sea, more than 3,000 pristine lakes, lush forests, and expansive parks. This harmonious blend of natural beauty and a tranquil pace of life draws many to this charming country. Lithuanians communicate in a unique and ancient language with roots akin to Sanskrit. They have a penchant for playing volleyball, crafting delicious beer, embracing jazz music, cherishing black-and-white photography, and celebrating the white stork as their national symbol. Keep scrolling to determine your eligibility for relocating to Lithuania and obtaining a permanent residence permit.

Advantages of Permanent Residency in Lithuania

Obtaining permanent residency in Lithuania grants you the freedom to work and reside in the country without the need for regular permit renewals. Now, let's explore the additional privileges available to permanent residents in Lithuania:

  • Enjoy visa-free travel throughout the EU and the Schengen Area, with the ability to stay for up to 90 days every six months.
  • Receive free medical care.
  • Relocate your family to Lithuania.
  • Qualify for state benefits.

Vilnius. Photo: Reza Bina (Unsplash)

Who Is Eligible for Permanent Residency in Lithuania?

Eligibility for permanent residency in Lithuania requires a minimum of five years of legal residence and a basic proficiency in Lithuanian language. All applicants are required to undergo a naturalisation test assessing their language proficiency and knowledge of the Constitution.

You are not required to obtain a permanent residence permit in the following cases: 

  • If you are a former Lithuanian citizen who lost citizenship for any reason.
  • If you can provide evidence of Lithuanian descent.

If you belong to either of these two groups, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. While your application is being processed, you can reside in the country under a temporary residence permit.

Kaunas. Photo: Makalu (Pixabay)

Where to Begin the Application Process

First, you'll need to obtain a temporary residence permit, and the crucial step is selecting the appropriate program. Here are some of the most commonly chosen options.

  • Launching an innovative business. Lithuania is actively seeking skilled IT specialists and entrepreneurs, and it's dedicated to enhancing the country's business environment. The Lithuanian government has established a non-profit organisation called Startup Lithuania, which provides support to startup founders and connects them with potential investors. Additionally, Vilnius boasts the largest technology park among the Baltic and Scandinavian regions. You can conveniently apply for a startup visa online and present your project to the committee through a video conference. 
  • Studying or conducting research. This program is ideal for those planning to pursue education, teach, or engage in research activities in Lithuania. The country boasts 23 universities, with the oldest one located in Vilnius, founded in 1572 and currently enrolling over 20,000 students. Vilnius University holds the twentieth position in the QS EECA world university rankings. International students have the option to select programs taught in English or Russian.
  • Employment. A significant number of Lithuanian citizens are relocating to wealthier EU countries in search of employment. Consequently, there are numerous job openings in Lithuania for unskilled workers, including drivers and construction labourers. However, employers typically prioritise Lithuanian or EU citizens for these roles. On a positive note, Lithuania warmly welcomes highly skilled professionals, especially those with rare expertise such as microbiologists, physicists, IT specialists, and medical doctors.
  • Starting your own business. This program is designed for entrepreneurs looking to establish a new business or open a branch of their company in Lithuania. The primary requirement is that the company must have a minimum capital of €50,000. Applicants must prepare a comprehensive business plan and provide founding documents indicating their role as either a shareholder or the CEO of the company. Additionally, it's essential to demonstrate that the funds originate from a legal source.
  • Participating in arts, sports, or volunteering. Professional musicians, actors, artists, directors, singers, and conductors have the opportunity to enter Lithuania on a special visa. Additionally, temporary residence permits are available for individuals volunteering at recognized religious institutions or for accomplished athletes. 
  • Family reunification. In this scenario, eligible applicants must be the spouses, children, or parents of either a Lithuanian citizen or a foreigner who holds temporary or permanent residency status in Lithuania.  
  • Being of Lithuanian descent. This program is designed for individuals whose direct ancestors were Lithuanian citizens and resided in the country before 1940. Many applicants for this program are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of Lithuanians who were forcibly deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan during Stalin's era. Moreover, a significant number of ethnic Lithuanians now reside in the USA, Brazil, and the UK. They are descendants of those who sought refuge from Hitler's regime.

You can also immigrate to Lithuania on humanitarian grounds as a refugee or a victim of human trafficking.

Vilnius. Photo: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke (Pixabay)

Duration of the Residence Permit and Required Documents

The Lithuanian permanent residence permit is issued as a biometric card. This card grants you the privilege to reside, study, work, or establish a business within the country and also allows for travel throughout the European Union. It's important to note that extended absences from Lithuania may jeopardise your residency status.

The temporary residence permit initially has a 12-month validity and can be extended. The great news is that once extended, the permit is valid for 24 months. This system is applicable to startup founders, entrepreneurs, students, PhD researchers, and working immigrants in Lithuania. If you apply for the permit as an ethnic Lithuanian, it remains valid for five years. 

The application process is straightforward. You should visit the Lithuanian immigration department, known as MIGRIS, complete the required form, submit a fee of €120, and assemble a package of documents, which should include: 

  • A valid passport or ID.
  • Bank statements demonstrating your financial stability or a work contract with a Lithuanian company indicating your salary.
  • A medical insurance with coverage of at least €6,000.
  • A certificate of no criminal record from the police.
  • A lease on your home.
  • Documents substantiating your reason for staying in the country with a temporary residence permit. For instance, students should provide an enrollment certificate, startup founders require an offer from Startup Lithuania, and if you have Lithuanian ancestry, you must include all relevant archival documents confirming your connection to Lithuanian citizens who resided in the country before 1940. It's important to note that all documents must be in Lithuanian. 

Typically, the application processing time ranges from two to four months. It may be expedited somewhat if you are applying under a family reunification or humanitarian program.

St. Anna's Church, Vilnius. Photo: Yevheniia (Unsplash)

How to Obtain a Permanent Residence Permit after the Temporary One?

Much like the process for obtaining a temporary residence permit, to secure a permanent one, you must visit the MIGRIS office. A fee of €160 is required, or €320 for expedited processing. You will need to submit several documents: 

  • Your Lithuanian temporary residence permit and additional documents to substantiate your period of residence (e.g., a lease agreement, work contracts, and more).
  • A language certificate demonstrating your proficiency in Lithuanian.
  • Proof of medical insurance.
  • Evidence of financial means, such as a work contract or other business-related documents.

As a permanent resident of Lithuania, you have the freedom to apply for the same job opportunities as Lithuanian citizens and enjoy unrestricted travel. The crucial requirement is to avoid prolonged absences from Lithuania, exceeding 12 months, as this could lead to the forfeiture of your residence permit. After residing in Lithuania for five years under a permanent residence permit, you become eligible to apply for citizenship.

In a Nutshell

Lithuania might be an attractive choice if you seek to reside in a small, pleasant, and well-developed nation where you can establish yourself without substantial investments. You can obtain permanent residency after residing in the country for five years under a temporary residence permit. You can acquire this permit by coming to Lithuania for purposes such as studying, working, starting a business, launching a startup, or reuniting with your family.

Cover photo: Vitalijs Barilo (Unsplash)

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