Lithuania plans to boost investment with immigration streamlining

Aug 20, 2015
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Lithuania’s Ministry of the Interior is currently considering relaxing the conditions for immigration and for starting businesses in key areas of the economy. The reforms, which will be in force from September if agreed, are aimed at encouraging strategically important foreign investment and attracting highly-qualified talent to Lithuania. The new proposals would streamline immigration procedures, making them both faster and more efficient.

Currently, Lithuania’s ministries of the Interior, Economy and Foreign Affairs are working together to finalise the new system before September 1. They are also in consultation with the heads of the Migration Department and the Labour Exchange.

A green corridor for strategic industries

[quote text=”Investors and qualified specialists will not have to go to the migration services, or to spend time finding out what documents they need or waiting to see if they have provided all the required documents. Migration service specialists will provide free consultations and help them to gather the documents they need. Becoming a legal entity and, for instance, starting to operate as a newly established company could take place simultaneously” name_surname=”Saulius Skvernelis” description=”Minister of the Interior” left=””]

According to Mr Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuania’s Minister of the Interior, the essence of the reform is to create a so called ‘green corridor’ for strategically important investments as quickly as possible. The new system will enable a number of authorised institutions, including the Ministry of the Economy, to vouch for companies or individuals. They will then be eligible for direct support and guidance from a team of migration specialists and consultants from the Ministry of the Interior, thus simplifying and accelerating the application process.

As Mr Skvernelis explains, “this means that investors and qualified specialists will not have to go to the migration services, or to spend time finding out what documents they need or waiting to see if they have provided all the required documents. Migration service specialists will provide free consultations and help them to gather the documents they need.” The minister also believes this modified procedure will cut down on bureaucracy and red tape: “Becoming a legal entity and, for instance, starting to operate as a newly established company could take place simultaneously.”

Because these green corridors will not involve large numbers of applicants – “in the best case scenario a couple of dozen cases” – Mr Skvernelis is confident that these reforms can be brought in quickly.

The Interior Ministry is also attempting to simplify the procedures for issuing EU blue cards, again with a target date of 1 September.

Mr Skvernelis acknowledged that the decision to simplify the procedures for becoming a legal entity has been influenced by the positive experience of neighbouring Estonia in this area.

 

Lithuania also has a rapidly developing start-up community. When asked about streamlining the processes for setting up a new company, Mr Skvernelis said that new ideas are currently being considered, including the introduction of special start-up visas: “There are different types of visas and this is something to consider. However, this question comes under the purview of other institutions”.

The reforms have been under consideration from Lithuania’s parliament since the spring, and Mr Skvernelis is confident that the new measures will be introduced, and will have immediate positive effects. “We want to transfer the majority of these procedures into the electronic space, which is cheaper and more convenient.”

A positive response

The new reforms have been received with optimism by investment experts and business leaders in Lithuania.

[quote text=”Another potential reform that should be considered is officially accepting 5 years of professional experience as equal to a higher professional qualification.” name_surname=”” description=”” left=”a”]For Lukas Savickas, an investment expert at Invest Lithuania, the close cooperation currently seen between the state departments can yield a number of positive results. These should include faster recognition of qualifications, and simpler procedures for issuing national (D) visas to foreigners planning to development their businesses in Lithuania. Another potential reform that Mr Savickas believes should be considered is officially accepting 5 years of professional experience as equal to a higher professional qualification. He also proposes modifying the regulations related to the immigration of highly qualified specialists and company leaders from non-EU countries.

Edmundas Balčikonis, IT director of the hugely successful Lithuanian start-up Track Duck, said that, at first glance, the proposed reforms sound very good. One particular positive for him is that it looks like the government is taking into consideration the interests of start-ups and other young businesses, and not just those of large corporations.

Ramūnas Petravičius, a lawyer at law firm Valiūnas Ellex, is particularly impressed with the new plan to appoint specific contact persons to work directly with foreign investors to solve immigration issues. “With this proposal, state institutions are clearly demonstrating to potential investors that they are welcome in Lithuania and that officials are ready to assist them.”

The Proposed Reforms in Brief
  • The Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Migration Department and the Labour Exchange will all appoint specific contact persons responsible for working towards the implementation of this agreement,
  • The Ministry of the Economy will assess whether a company or foreign entity being established in Lithuania can be considered to be creating added value, and will inform other institutions on this subject.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will enable foreigners to submit the documents required for residency applications and work permits to Lithuania’s consular institutions abroad.
  • The Migration Department will provide information to foreign subjects regarding immigration procedures. It will also provide preliminary evaluations on whether the documents presented are suitable.
  • The Migration Department will publish information on the implementation of the agreement every second quarter.
  • The Labour Exchange will evaluate whether the positions foreign employees are occupying in companies fit with the needs of the Lithuanian labour market.
  • The Ministry of the Interior will publish analysis of the agreement’s implementation every second quarter, and propose any relevant modifications to the legal regulations for immigration.

Read full article in Lithuanian at VZ.lt 

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