Lithuania, although not one of the most sought-after asylum-seeking countries, has an effective scheme for providing shelter to immigrants who are victims of persecution and discrimination. In this case, two types of assistance have been established: refugee admission and subsidiary protection. Read on to find out what each decision consists of and how you could be part of each.
Since the demand for cases is low, we inform you that processing times are short. In fact, in 2020 the Lithuanian government received only 329 petitions and approved 22% of them; this is a high percentage of acceptance, in relation to the European Union (EU) average; most of the people were from Russia, Turkey, Belarus, Syria, Tajikistan and Armenia. On the other hand, the total number of immigrants with residence permits was 150 thousand people.
Initial considerations for seeking asylum in Lithuania
In principle, consider that for the Lithuanian government, a person in need of help is someone who is afraid to return to his or her home country because he or she has been a victim of violence, persecution and threats, whether because of religious beliefs, race, political opinion, gender or stereotype. But, in addition to this, they do not find security in the protection agencies of that nation.
The benefit also applies to those who lack nationality, because they have fled without documents due to some of the conflicts mentioned above. This happens regularly to Cuban immigrants.
On the other hand, keep in mind that you have three places to file your asylum petition, which are:
- Borders. Go to the State Guard Service, at one of the authorized stations on the perimeter of the territory.
- Immigration Department. This is where you can go if you are inside the country. Any local or main office will be able to assist you.
- Foreigners’ Registration Center. This is another authorized entity for you to start your procedure. The address is Pabradė, Švenčionys district.
Now, if you are inside the territory, but you are an illegal immigrant, either because you did it through irregular borders and/or you do not have valid identification documents for Lithuania, then you will have to start the procedure in the shortest possible time.
Otherwise, as it is an immigration crime, you could be sanctioned. On the other hand, remember that this is a personal and individual procedure. The only exception is for minor children, who can be included in the same petition.
Requirements to apply for asylum in Lithuania
Once you are placed with one of the above agencies, the steps to follow are as follows:
Step 1. Registration and initial interview
The first day you go to the site, an official will open a case record. We recommend that at that time you submit a free-format official letter, stating your information and the facts that led you to make the request. On this basis, the same officer will conduct an initial interview to complete the file.
During the interview, it is essential that you provide all the documents that support your case, such as your passport, travel tickets and evidence of why you are afraid to return to your country of origin. Afterwards, your fingerprints and those of your children over 14 years of age will be taken.
Now, the purpose of the initial interview is to identify who you are and, furthermore, if before arriving on Lithuanian soil you did not pass through another country governed by the Dublin Regulation. If so, the process can be transferred to the most competent nation. In this regard, try to make the journey as straightforward as possible and memorize each step of the journey so that you express it correctly.
NOTE: to ensure that the message you want to convey is correct, you are entitled to both a native language interpreter and a lawyer, free of charge. Both professionals will, of course, be able to attend the interview.
Step 2. Hosting Definition
At the end of the interview, you will be assigned a place of accommodation, as stipulated by the refugee law. If you went to the Alien Registration Center, the Migration Department will most likely assign you to that place; however, you have the right to decide if you prefer to live in another area of Lithuania.
The only way you could be allowed to live outside such centers would be if you have a vulnerable health condition or if you have a healthy adult family member with legal status in the country. Additionally, if you are detained for illegal entry to the territory, this condition also applies.
Step #3. Issuance of the certificate of alien registration
After defining the accommodation, the Immigration Department is obliged to issue you a certificate of alien registration, which guarantees your stay in the country while the asylum case is being resolved. Although, depending on the planning of the day made by the agency, they may indicate the date and place where you will be able to claim this document.
Step 4. Asylum application examination
When your file is completed, the Immigration Department will proceed to examine it through a complex administrative process; and, in the meantime, it will be able to decide whether or not:
- He does not study the case further. It occurs when, based on its database, the department determines that the applicant has initiated an asylum procedure in another EU country, or if the arguments put forward are not sufficient. If so, in three business days they will generate the respective notification.
- The case must be transferred. It happens when the department adheres to section No. 604 of the Dublin Regulation (see here). This applies when, before arriving in Lithuania, the applicant passes through a country that is in the agreement.
- Study the file urgently. It originates when:
The petitioner comes from a country considered safe.
The evidence is not consistent or related to the story.
There is falsehood in the evidence shown.
They suspect that the person only wants to maintain his/her stay in the country for a few days.
The applicant refuses to provide fingerprints.
In a nutshell, this can mean that you are a menace to society; what a separate investigation process, plus you could be arrested. The agency has a maximum of nine days to issue a urgent notification.
- Evaluate the request thoroughly. If your case does not comply with any of the aforementioned decisions; then, the analysis will continue exhaustively, which will take approximately 90 days.
Step #5. Response from the Department of Migration
The possible options to receive are the following:
Granting of refugee status. This means that you will obtain a residence permit for five years and you will have the right to be integrated into all existing plans in the country, such as education, work, health, etc.
Subsidiary protection. Effectively you are denied refugee status, because the officials consider that you do not meet the requirements; but if there are probable causes for fear of returning to the country of origin. Some reasons are death penalties, torture and mistreatment. The stay permit, in this case, will be for two years; with the option of renewal, if the reasons for fear persist.
Denial of asylum with temporary residence. It grants other humanitarian aid benefits to support residence and integration in the country, for a determined period of time.
Denial of the case. You will be told that you must return to your country or you will be deported; however, you will have 14 days to appeal the decision to the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court. If there is no change in the response, you may go to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, where the case will be decided in the final instance. Please note that you will be entitled to free legal aid.
Duties and rights of applicants
While the Immigration Department examines the procedure, you will enjoy rights and obligations within Lithuania. Find out what they are below:
|Enjoy basic services in places of accommodation and detention.||Respect the laws of the country.|
|Receive information on the progress of the case.||Accept a medical study.|
|Receive compensation for expenses related to public transportation.||Cooperate with all the information required for the analysis of the case.|
|Have free interpreters during the process.||Declare the economic funds available upon arrival in the country and those granted by the State.|
|Obtain support while the case is resolved, which comes from 10% of the resources that enter the State.|
Undoubtedly, Lithuania is an excellent option to apply for international protection; since it unconditionally supports those who have really suffered persecution, threats or discriminatory events in their country of origin. So, if your case is similar, come to this territory and start a new life.