New dual citizenship law approved by parliament

Žydrūnas Ilgauskas

The Seimas endorsed a bill proposed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė in a vote of 86 to 1 with 2 abstentions.

The Lithuanian Constitution effectively bans Lithuanian nationals from holding dual citizenship, save for a number of exceptions. The new law introduces such an exception for individuals with “special merit to the state”.

Special merit is defined in the law as a person’s achievements that contribute to the strengthening of Lithuania’s statehood, its international power and authority. The law also allows individuals who meet the criteria to get back their Lithuanian citizenship, if they lost it due to the dual citizenship prohibition. Individual cases will be considered by the president.

President Grybauskaitė submitted the bill in November last year, following public uproar about Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, a prominent NBA player, who lost his Lithuanian passport after becoming a citizen of the United States.

Under current regulations, exceptions on dual citizenship apply for Lithuanians who had left the country before 1990 and for individuals who acquire more than one citizenship by birth.

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