The Lithuanian Parliament has passed amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Foreigners, which will enter into force on 1 November 2014.

The amendments should improve the conditions for hiring highly-qualified foreigners, as well as for large investments from non-EU Member States.

The amendments are also aimed at limiting the establishment of dormant companies for the sole purpose of obtaining Lithuanian residence permits for their shareholders. Consequently, the founders of small enterprises will find it more difficult to obtain Lithuanian residence permits.

Information on the most relevant changes appears below.

Improved conditions for obtaining an EU Blue Card1

The amendment sets a much shorter timeline for processing EU Blue Card applications where the employee’s salary is not less than three average salaries in Lithuania (currently this would amount to approx EUR 2,030 gross). In addition, a decision of the Labour Exchange confirming that employing a foreign national meets Lithuanian labour market needs will no longer be required for employees meeting the salary requirement. In these cases the hiring company will no longer have to announce job vacancies and search for employees in the Lithuanian or EU labour market. This will further speed up the procedure for obtaining an EU Blue Card.

Under the new procedure, an EU Blue Card will be issued for up to three years. This means that an annual extension of an EU Blue Card will no longer be necessary.

Highly-qualified foreigners will be able to start working in Lithuania immediately after filing their application for an EU Blue Card. This will enable business to hire specialists as needed without waiting for completion of the whole EU Blue Card procedure.

Changes concerning large investors and executives

As of 1 November 2014, establishing a company with minimum share capital will no longer entitle a foreigner to apply for a residence permit. In order to reduce dormant-company abuse for immigration purposes, the new amendment sets quite high criteria for the duration of business activities (at least six months), equity (approx EUR 29,000), foreign investment (approx EUR 14,500), and jobs created to obtain a Lithuanian residence permit for a shareholder, Managing Director or member of the Management Board.

Large investors meeting these requirements who have invested at least approx EUR 260,700 in the company and created at least five jobs for local employees will be able to obtain residence permits for up to three years. 
In addition, residence permits for these large investors will be issued more quickly than before. These investors will also be able to apply immediately for residence permits for their family members. Previously, this was only possible for EU Blue Card holders, while all other foreigners were required to reside in Lithuania for at least two years before inviting their family members.

More possibilities for relocating to Lithuania with family

Executives and specialists posted to work in Lithuania within the same company group will be able to apply immediately for Lithuanian residence permits for their family members. The salary of those employees must be no less than two average salaries in Lithuania (this would currently amount to approx EUR 1,400 gross).