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Government approves reforms to streamline Lithuanian migration process

April 15, 2016

The Lithuanian government has approved amendments to migration law that will make it easier for Lithuanian employers to recruit top specialists from abroad. The amendments, which were initiated by Invest Lithuania and are based on recommendations from key foreign investors, are aimed at improving talent attraction and creating more favourable conditions for foreign startup entrepreneurs. The amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens have now been passed to the Seimas (Lithuania’s Parliament) for consideration.

The new legislation includes a range of measures aimed at streamlining the migration process and attracting top talent in key industries. Major changes to the current policy include granting startup entrepreneurs and company managers residence permits, fast tracking applications for specialists in key industries, easing family reunification procedures, and enabling foreign students to work whilst studying.

Once the amendments are adopted, foreign startup entrepreneurs will be eligible for a one year, temporary residence permit in Lithuania, with the option to extend it for another year. After two years, they could then apply for a temporary residence permit as the manager or shareholder of the company.

The new legislation would see application times cut for foreigners applying for temporary residence permits, and these permits would be valid for two years, rather than one year as is currently the case. Furthermore, foreign specialists in key industries, a list of which will be drawn up once these reforms have been approved by parliament, will benefit from even shorter application times of either 15 days or one month. These key industries will all be areas for which highly qualified professionals are needed and are currently in short supply in Lithuania. The reforms will also make it easier for professionals moving to Lithuania to bring family members with them.

Another focus of the amendments is to establish eligibility criteria for issuing three year temporary residence permits to foreigners who manage a company, but who have not invested their own funds into the company. These new criteria will apply to companies with an equity capital of at least €500,000, and at least 10 employees, who must be paid at the national average salary or above.

The reforms are also good news for current and prospective foreign students. The proposed amendments will allow international students in Lithuania to work up to 20 hours per week from the start of their studies, rather than only from the second year of studies as is the case at the moment. The new legislation would also make any foreigners who have completed studies or vocational training programs in Lithuania exempt from the requirement to have authorisation from the Labour Exchange for their permit applications.

According to Mantas Katinas, director general of Invest Lithuania, these amendments represent the first step towards improving the country’s talent ecosystem, a key national priority that was raised during this year’s Investment Advisory Council meeting.

“It is important to understand that Lithuania’s main competitive advantage is its highly-educated society, with skilled specialists who are receptive to innovation. In order to bolster our reputation as a regional talent attraction centre, we must become more open and attractive to foreign talents – highly qualified professionals, startup entrepreneurs, business managers and students. We hope that these vital amendments will be adopted during this session of the Seimas”, Mr Katinas said.

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Aistė Žebrauskienė
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    Aistė Žebrauskienė Press Officer
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