On Tuesday, the Seimas approved the so-called employee relocation package initiated by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation, which opens simplified conditions for investors from third countries to transfer their employees and family members. These changes are particularly relevant for Belarusian companies moving to Lithuania or considering to do so. This package of laws will enter into force on 15 June and will still have to be signed by the President.
‘This package of laws is very important for Lithuania seeking to attract more investment and talent; our Belarusian neighbours could benefit from the simplified procedure to safely continue their activities in Lithuania. This legislative package is estimated to create preconditions for at least 3000 new jobs. The simplified procedure will also allow companies investing in Lithuania to save a significant share of moving-related costs as companies with experience in moving to Lithuania state that transfer costs of one IT employee and related legal services often exceed EUR 10 thousand euros,’ says Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė.
Amendments to the Law on Investment, Employment and Legal Status of Aliens will facilitate the transfer of a company’s employees and their family members by transferring full or part of activities from third countries to Lithuania. All transferred employees will be able to apply for a residence permit in Lithuania. The Employment Service will not assess the qualifications or work experience of such employees, i.e. their suitability for company’s positions will be judged by the investor. No assessment will be made on whether family members meet the needs of the labour market; they will have the right to work in Lithuania and receive a residence permit of the same duration.
This provision will apply to enterprises from third countries investing in Lithuania which have investment commitment for at least EUR 1.45 million and intend to create at least 20 jobs. To prevent fraud, the investor will have to undertake to pay employees a minimum 1.5 average wage depending on the municipality in which the investment is made.
According to the data of Invest Lithuania, currently, 43 Belarusian companies have already started the resettlement process and 40 are considering moving to Lithuania.
Since the beginning of mass protests against the authoritarian regime in Belarus in August last year, a number of companies have moved to Lithuania, including the US IT giant EPAM Systems, founded by Belarusians, Wargaming, developer of World of Tanks game, Flo Health and software companies Coherent Solutions and Godel Technologies.
In the near future, the Government should also consider the initiative of the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation to exempt individuals moving to Lithuania from customs duties and import VAT tax on personal property. The aim is to establish that natural persons who wish to obtain a residence permit in Lithuania and come to Lithuania under the simplified national visa issue procedure and through the mediation of a legal person whom they come to work for, could import their personal property without paying the customs duty and import VAT. Currently, only persons who already have a residence permit in Lithuania or provide a one-off guarantee from a bank or insurance institution, which is often difficult to obtain from Belarus, may not pay these taxes.