Taking counsel: Legal status of EU foreigners: easier, or more difficult?

  • 2008-04-23
  • By Jurgita Matulyte [urevicius, Balciunas & Bartkus]
After amendments to Lithuania's law on the legal status of aliens went into force in December 2006, EU citizens who reside in Lithuania for longer than three months in any six-month period for any one of the reasons listed in the law (e.g., seeking work, performing legal activities, acquiring an education) no longer have to receive a permit to live in the Baltic state. The amendments prescribe that EU citizens should declare their place of residence (according to procedures established in the Law on the Declaration of Place of Residence) instead of receiving a residence permit.

Once the amendments went into force, similar changes to the Law on the Declaration of Place of Residence, which regulates how EU citizens should declare their place of residence in Lithuania, should have been adopted. However, Parliament didn't do this. Even today the migration department's Web site maintains that EU citizens are still issued EC residence permits, despite the fact that the law abolishing this obligation has been in force for more than a year.

Remarkably, the amendments to the law on aliens' legal status still do not facilitate the status of the EU citizens. Despite the fact that none of the covering legal acts clarifying EU citizens' legal status (i.e., obligations to apply for EC permit, respective liability arises) were enacted, the new amendments were even more surprising. No provisions on declaring place of residence remained in the chapter regulating EU citizens' legal status. Instead, the provisions were supplanted by new ones specifying that EU citizens who enter Lithuania for residence for longer than three months period in any half-year period should receive a certificate issued by the Interior Ministry proving their right to live in Lithuania.

The law does not provide more information on this certificate, since the procedure for issuing it should be detailed by the Interior Ministry. Currently, a draft for such procedures has been prepared. However, an EU citizen should provide not one, and not two, documents for the above certificate: in practice, the EU citizen should provide nearly all the same documents as for the EC residence permit.
Thus the question naturally arises whether after several years of membership in the European Union, Lithuania is seeking to facilitate the legal status of EU citizens (i.e., that qualified specialists of EU member states could access the Lithuanian market without bureaucratic obstacles and increase economic development and GDP growth), or whether Lithuanian government officials still fear that due to "an invasion of EU citizens" wishing to work in the Baltic state that Lithuanians will suffer.

After the last amendments to the law on aliens' legal status it has become difficult to forecast what might happen. It would be nice to believe that this time around the necessary legal acts will be adopted in due time and after a year the regulation will not fall upside-down along with the amendments to the law on aliens' legal status.

Jurgita Matulyte is an associate advocate at Jurevicius, Balciunas & Bartkus, a member of Baltic Legal Solutions, a pan-Baltic integrated legal network of law firms including Glikman & Partnerid in Estonia and Kronbergs & Cukste in Latvia, dedicated to providing a quality "one-stop shop" approach to clients' needs in the Baltics.