Amendments to Lithuania‘s residency law have come into force from 1st January, making life much easier for foreigners who have invested or plan to invest in Lithuania.
Faster issue of residence permits. The new law has doubled the validity of residence permits up to two years, while the application procedure has been cut in half to two months (one month for urgent requests).
Family members welcome. The previous two-year transition period for family members has been scrapped so company shareholders and CEO’s who have residence permits will be able to bring their family members to the country subject to family permit procedure. The permit issue procedure for family members has been shortened to two months (one month for urgent requests).
More flexible job creation targets. Like many countries, Lithuania requires foreign-owned companies to create new jobs as a condition for issuing residence permits to their shareholders. However, state interference has now been minimised as the new rules no longer set a target number for new jobs, but only require two average salaries per company.
Extra benefits for bigger investors. Like the previous version, the amended law enables foreigners to obtain residence permits for three years if they invest EUR 260,000 and create five jobs in addition to holding at least 30 pct of the shares or acting as CEO.
There is also a new rule that allows foreigners to reside in Lithuania for three years if they are a CEO in a company with equity of at least EUR 500,000 and at least 10 employees who are paid an average or higher salary. The employees may be Lithuanian nationals, EU citizens or skilled third country nationals.
Start-up visa programme. Under the new law, Lithuania has launched the so-called start-up visa programme from 2017. In fact these will not be real visas, but annual residence permits with a possible extension for another year.
Compared with investors in regular companies, start-up shareholders will be entitled to a facilitated permit procedure: they will not be required to create any jobs, pay higher-than-minimum salaries or make additional investments in share capital or equity. Start-up shareholders will also be able to bring their family members to the country subject to family permit procedure.
The law defines a start-up as a company that operates in the field of innovative technologies or other significant innovations for Lithuania‘s economic and social development. Compliance with these criteria – whether the investor has the required qualifications, funding and business plan – will be assessed and certified by an institution to be appointed by the Economy Ministry.
The start-up assessment procedure is expected to be approved within weeks, removing the last remaining obstacle to the issue of residence permits to start-up investors.
By Karolina Baronaitė-Birmontė, GLIMSTEDT Senior Associate, Attorney-at-Law
The article was published on Delfi.lt news portal (in Lithuanian).