New information portal simplifies immigration process for non-EU specialists and investors
A new information portal designed to enable highly-skilled specialists and investors from outside the EU to move to Lithuania more easily is launching this week. Invest Lithuania, the foreign direct investment development agency, has coordinated the project, which is called ‘Internet Gates’.
‘The Blue Card obviously facilitates the immigration procedures for foreign professionals and thus increases the country’s attraction to investors. This means that Lithuanian companies are enabled to more easily employ high level specialists; also, companies from abroad may more efficiently address the issues related to the lack of skilled labour force and may bring in the professionals they need from their subsidiaries based in other countries’, Minister for Economy Evaldas Gustas said.
The main component of the project is the website www.eubluecard.lt Available in both Russian and English, the website explains the advantages Lithuania has to offer for highly-qualified professionals, and explicitly sets out the procedures for obtaining an EU Blue Card. The EU Blue Card allows skilled non-EU citizens to live and work in the EU.
Currently there are more than 3,000 foreign capital companies operating in Lithuania. Among them are investors from the USA, Israel, China, Ukraine and Russia, and together these firms employ about 123,000 people. In many cases, investors bring employees from their headquarters abroad to work on the setting up of their new offices in Lithuania.
Furthermore, the prospect of living and working in Lithuania is becoming increasingly interesting for highly qualified specialists, especially in the IT sector. Start-up developers too are increasingly attracted by the growth-oriented business conditions and high quality of life Lithuania has to offer..
Until now, however, there has been no central informational tool which explicitly explains and describes how to obtain an EU Blue Card in order to live and work in Lithuania. .
‘When I was moving to Lithuania and trying to get a Blue Card, I had many questions,’ explains entrepreneur Alexander Shvetsov, who heads the start-up Dropbyke which launched in Vilnius this Autumn.. ‘We wasted a lot of time trying to get all the necessary information from the Migration Department, various lawyers and Invest Lithuania. Of course, we received assistance in this process. However, a lot of time could have been saved on all sides if the main issues were explained in one place and all the procedures were clearly and intelligibly set out. I’m sure this new information portal will help Lithuania attract more talents and foreign companies for whom immigration regulations for non-EU citizens have been an issue in the past.’
Interior Minister Elvinas Jankevičius says that the attraction of highly qualified specialists is a key priority of Lithuania’s immigration policy. ‘We live in a global world; therefore, we cannot avoid either emigration, or immigration. Nevertheless, some countries have explicit strategic aims directed at attracting the skilled specialists they need. For example, Canada explicitly states these aims in its immigration rules, applying simplified conditions for those specialists who are in high demand in the country. Recently, Estonia has also launched a campaign aimed at attracting talented employees from abroad. Lithuania too is targeting a well-considered approach to immigration, and these ‘open gates’ are the first step in attracting talent to Lithuania.”
Mantas Katinas, general manager of Invest Lithuania, which initiated the project, noted that in order to achieve the goal of attracting the most talented specialists from outside the EU, providing clear information is only the first step. It is also important to ensure attractive immigration conditions in Lithuania. ‘Working with investors, we have witnessed a considerable increase in interest in the opportunity to work and create jobs in Lithuania in the past few years,” Mr Katinas explained. “For this reason, providing clear information in one place was absolutely necessary. If we are serious in our goal of attracting more non-EU talents as part of our wider immigration policy, the next step must be to create more favourable conditions for heads of companies, start-ups, students and highly qualified specialists to come to Lithuania and create added value here.”
To improve immigration conditions, a memorandum of understanding between the Ministries of the Economy, Social Security and Labour, along with the Interior Ministry and the Labour Exchange, was signed in October of this year. The memorandum set out a number of key targets the parties will work towards. These include reducing the administrative obstacles for highly skilled specialists in core industries, streamlining procedures, scrapping redundant requirements for executives and investors, and making it easier for the employees of start-ups to acquire temporary residence permits in Lithuania. The memorandum also contains a commitment to simplify immigration procedures for businesses which create added value. This is in recognition of the significant contribution they make to the country’s economic wellbeing through investments and new employment opportunities. The Ministries are also targeting an increase in the issuing of temporary residence permits for family members of investors and for foreign students.
For a comprehensive guide to immigration to Lithuania for non-EU citizens, go to www.eubluecard.lt.