VILNIUS – The Interior Ministry will propose to the Seimas to provide for a longer validity period of alien’s passports issued in Lithuania in response to Minsk's decisions not to allow Belarusians to renew their identity documents abroad.
"Alien’s passports have been issued for years but there is a certain limitation in that the document is issued for one year. Perhaps the term could be longer, the Seimas could extend it. We would make such a proposal to them," Deputy Interior Minister Arnoldas Abramavicius told BNS on Monday.
According to him, it is proposed to extend the validity of the document to three years.
An alien's passport is a travel document issued by the Migration Department for an alien with the right to reside in Lithuania who, for objective reasons, is unable to obtain a travel document from his/her country of origin.
“We are only talking about people fleeing the regime, we are not talking about truck drivers, other workers. It is the opposition that is being given such an opportunity here – those who have residence permits on humanitarian grounds, I would probably put it that way", Abramavicius said.
"We are certainly not planning for about 60,000 to be able to apply," he added.
SEES AN INCREASE IN WORKLOAD
However, Evelina Gudzinskaite, director of the Migration Department, told BNS that not only the opposition figures, but also foreigners working and living in Lithuania would be able to use this right.
"Not only those who came with the mediation of the Foreign Ministry and received residence permits on humanitarian grounds, but also foreigners who have come to work on absolutely different grounds and know that they cannot return to Belarus may need those alien’s passports,” she said on Monday.
"There is a legislative provision that doesn't say that only those who have received a residence permit for humanitarian reasons. No, it says that those who cannot get a passport for objective reasons. What are those objective reasons? They are various and can be proved in various ways," she added.
According to Gudzinskaite, this is the reason why the Migration Department is expecting a higher number of foreigners, as well as an increased workload for its specialists.
She said that it was currently difficult to estimate the actual inflows, as it would be "like reading coffee grounds". However, it could affect up to 20,000 Belarusians.
"In reality, the number of applicants will be lower", Gudzinskaite added.
Belarusians living abroad have until recently been able to get new passports at the country's diplomatic missions.
However, a decree published last week stated that from now on, Belarusians can only get a new passport or renew one in "consular services attached to their last registered place of residence" on Belarusian territory.
Tens of thousands of Belarusians fled the Moscow-allied country in 2020, after strongman Alexander Lukashenko brutally suppressed mass protests against his rule.