- LT is not yet a country of net migration
- Nearly all immigrants from outside the EU, mainly neighbouring CIS countries
- Employment rate and number of newcomers dropped with crisis but rebounded afterwards
- Relatively positive public opinion on equal rights for immigrants in LT, with levels of anti-immigrant sentiment average for Europe
- Rank: 34 out of 38
- MIPEX Score: 37
- LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 40
- FAMILY REUNION 59
- EDUCATION 17
- HEALTH 26
- POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 16
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE 59
- ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 35
- ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 43
Changes in context
Key Common Statistics
|Country of net migration since:||% Non-EU citizens||% Foreign-born||% Non-EU of foreign-born||% Non-EU university-educated||% from low or medium-developed (HDI) country|
|UN 2010 data in 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013|
Changes in policy
LT's several minor amendments to immigration laws may benefit the integration of a few non-EU immigrants, including the very small number of high-skilled workers admitted in LT in recent years. Integration polices started to move beyond ad hoc principles and funds in 2014. First the LT Migration Policy Guidelines set out a special chapter on the Integration of Foreigners. Next, the Social Security and Labour Ministry created a multi-stakeholder working group and finally an Action Plan on the Integration of Foreigners. The implementation of this Action Plan should lead to new support measures and concrete policy changes in 2015 and beyond.
Conclusions and recommendations
LT has far to go to develop strong and comprehensive integration policies. LT's policies are overall slightly unfavourable for integration of current and future immigrants. LT's slight areas of strength on integration are very new and required by the EU (e.g. reforms of family reunion, long-term residence, labour market mobility, anti-discrimination). As immigration increases, schools, hospitals, employment services and local communities may need greater targeted support to equally service immigrants and profit from their skills (see improvements in EE, CZ, IE, PT, Nordics).
LT's current policies rank 34th out of 38, slightly below average for Central Europe (above LV but below EE/PL/CZ). Non-EU immigrants in LT benefit from a clearer path to family reunion, long-term residence and citizenship than in LV/EE, though CZ/PL are leading Central European reform trends. Immigrants also benefit from less targeted support in several areas of life in LT than in new destination countries such as EE and CZ.
Policy Recommendations from the Lithuanian Social Research Centre
- Increase mobility of migrant workers in labour market
- Increase the family reunion rate for non-EU citizens, particularly low-educated migrant workers
- Grant access for non-EU citizens to political parties and associations
- Through new consultative forum, regularly consult representatives of non-EU citizens on upcoming political issues
- Expand healthcare coverage entitlements for temporary non-EU residents
- Guarantee basic infrastructure to welcome newcomer pupils across the country
POLICIES - SUMMARY
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POLICIES - DETAILS
Labour Market Mobility
To find the right job and develop their skills, non-EU newcomers get less general or targeted support in LT than in most countries, which can create significant needs for labour market integration
How many immigrants could be employed?
Around 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens are not in employment, education or training in LT as in the average European country, according to 2011/2 estimates. These rates are slightly higher among women than men.
Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?
LT policies make the labour market slightly unattractive to migrant workers who want to integrate long-term, with LT ranking 30th alongside HU and slightly below average for Central Europe. Non-EU newcomers, particularly temporary workers and high-skilled with university degrees, do not receive the general or targeted support and benefits they need to pursue the right quality job or education/training programme.
Dimension 1: Access to labour market
- Non-EU temporary migrants do have slightly favourable access to the labour market in LT, as is common in Europe
- Upon arrival, some temporary workers are locked into their jobs, without an automatic right to change jobs and sectors for 5 years, until they become long-term residents (a problem in most European countries)
- Non-EU citizens are excluded from public sector jobs in LT as in only 9 other countries (e.g. see Nordics, CZ and flexibility in DE/IT)
Dimension 2: Access to general support
- Non-EU workers needing work permits are not guaranteed the same general support that LT citizens use to improve their careers and skills, with LT ranking 31st alongside PL/SK/HU but far below EE/LV
- Non-EU citizens with academic and professional qualifications have complicated procedures for formal recognition and no way of validating these skills (see DE, Nordics)
- Non-EU citizens subject to work permits have limited access to education, training and study grants (see 2010 changes in LV)
- Those that lose their jobs must technically leave the country, without equal access to public employment services (unlike the majority of countries)
Dimension 3: Targeted support
- Targeted support is weak to address non-EU immigrants' specific labour market difficulties, with LT reliant on ad hoc projects (similar to LV, see instead more structural policies and use of funds in CZ, EE, PT)
- Law on Employment Support calls for specific labour market integration programme
- Most other countries provide more targeted information on recognition/employment, with a few offering individual orientations/advice and job-specific language training
Dimension 4: Workers' rights
- Non-EU workers enjoy only half their rights as workers in LT, with greater rights in 25 out of the 38 countries (see instead EE, PT)
- Only permanent residents are guaranteed equal access to the social safety net and housing benefits (unlike in half the countries)
Are immigrants acquiring new skills?
An estimated 12% of working-age non-EU men and women in LT recently enrolled in education or training. This level of uptake is slightly below average for the EU (17%) but slightly above the levels in nearby EE & LV.
What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?
- Employment rates slightly higher than EU average
- Slightly less flexible employment protection legislation than average for developed countries
- ≈20% of recent migrants coming with work or study permits, which is average for EU and far above EE & LV
- Hardly any coming with some exposure to the language
Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?
Labour market integration generally happens over time in LT as in most countries, facing small gaps for certain long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' residence). For example, those with university degrees are 12% less likely to find jobs than university-educated LT-born men and women. The non-EU-born are more likely to end up in lower quality jobs than the LT-born. The university-educated, especially women, are 50% more likely to work in jobs below their level of qualification than the university-educated LT-born.
Under LT's inclusive definitions and conditions, non-EU citizens are increasingly reuniting with a wide range of family members, but the small number of newcomers and young couples face greater delays than in most countries
How easily can immigrants reunite with family?
Authorities create as many opportunities and obstacles for non-EU families to reunite in LT as is average in Europe. Its procedures are also relatively discretionary, a typical problem across Central Europe. While the law's conditions and definitions are inclusive, LT delays family reunion more than most countries. These delays are not clearly justified from an integration perspective. Indeed, they were recently removed for high-skilled workers and EU long-term residents from other EU Member States.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Non-EU citizens who can meet their family's basic needs can apply for their dependents: spouse or registered partner, parents/grandparents, minor and certain adult children
- Sponors who meet the requirements are forced to wait to apply for 2 years, much longer than normal (after 1 year in 10 countries or immediately in 14)
- Authorities can also delay family reunion with the vague requirement of 'reasonable prospects of obtaining permanent residence', which is a more restrictive interpretation of EU law than in most countries
- 2012 Amendments mean that these delays and restrictions do not apply to highly-skilled workers, researchers or EU long-term residents from other EU Member States
- Non-EU couples wait longer than other EU and LT citizen adult couples (must be age 21), as in only 7 other countries, without clear justification for this in national legislation
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Family reunion is possible when sponsors can meet the same basic conditions expected of all families living in LT
- Minimum legal income and accomodation
- Applicants must pay a basic fee comparable to others in LT
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Families meeting the inclusive legal conditions face slightly discretionary procedures, with limited legal guarantees
- Reuniting families are more insecure in LT than in 29 other countries (e.g. EE, PL)
- Authorities can reject applications or withdraw permits on several vague grounds, without needing to take into account the sponsor's personal and family needs
Dimension 4: Rights associated
- The rights of family members are slightly favourable for their integration
- Reunited families experience similar rights and obstacles as in most countries
- Adult family members benefit from the same socio-economic rights as their sponsor (e.g. to work, education/training, social/housing benefits)
- They can only become independent residents if they meet the general criteria for another permit (e.g. work, study) or the long-term residence permit (after 5 years), with few entitlements for vulnerable families (see instead Nordics, PT, ES)
Are families reuniting?
In 2013, 946 family members joined a non-EU sponsor in LT. These numbers have been stable in recent years (e.g. 2008-2013). A slight majority of reuniting family members are women in LT as in most countries. These families represent all age groups, including important numbers of elderly over 65. However relatively few arrive aged 18-21 in LT than on average in Europe. Most reuniting families come from CIS countries, reflecting the makeup of LT's immigrant population.
What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?
- Newcomers wanting to reunite with family are most likely to settle long-term
- Mostly permanent residents eligible to sponsor
- Many from developed/neighbouring countries and thus less likely to reunite in LT as in other Baltics
How often do immigrants reunite with family?
Family reunion is increasingly common among non-EU families in LT, as non-EU newcomers settle long-term in the country. Around 4-5 family members arrived in 2012/3 for every 100 non-EU residents in LT. Non-EU families are now more likely to reunite in LT than in most European countries. LT's family reunion policies are a major factor determining when and which family members can reunite. LT's outcomes seems to reflect its inclusive family definitions and conditions. However its waiting periods for newcomers and young couples can delay and undermine the education and labour market success of adult family members and children.
As immigration increases, newcomer pupils need targeted support to excel at school, while LT pupils will need to learn more about diversity
How many pupils have immigrant parents?
Hardly any pupils are 1st (<1%) or 2nd generation (1.5%), given the limited and recent nature of immigration to LT.
Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?
Scoring 5th from the bottom, LT schools lack much of the basic infrastructure to welcome newcomer pupils. While teachers should be trained to teach the LT language, schools do not receive systematic guidance and support to address any other specific needs or opportunities that newcomers bring to the classroom. As immigration increases, newcomers may fall behind their peers, while LT pupils may not be well-equipped to live in a diverse society. These policies are generally weak in Central Europe (similar in PL, LV, see instead CZ, EE).
Dimension 1: Access
- All children in LT implicitly have the right to the compulsory education
- Without clearer access and targeted support from pre-primary to vocational/higher education, immigrant pupils may become under-qualified or drop-outs (see EE, AT, DE, Nordics)
Dimension 2: Targeting needs
- Newcomers should receive quality language support, including trained teachers
- A slight majority of other countries systematically orient newcomers and their parents and provide extra financial or professional support per pupil (e.g. CZ, EE, PT, Nordics)
Dimension 3: New opportunities
- LT one of only 10 countries completely missing out on new opportunities
- Pupils not belonging to national minorities cannot learn mother tongues, unlike in 22 other countries
Dimension 4: Intercultural education
- LT schools receive limited support to implement intercultural education across the curriculum and the school day, a weakness in most Central European countries
- Intercultural education is part of the official aims of the curriculum, like most countries
- Few schools receive little guidance, training and support on adapting the curriculum and school day/life (see instead CZ, EE, SK)
Migrant patients benefit from more limited entitlements and information in LT than in most countries
Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?
LT's health system is slightly unfavourable at responding to migrant patients, which is a common problem in the Baltics and Central European countries with few newcomers. Migrant patients receive uneven entitlements and information to access the general health services. These services receive hardly any support to become more responsive to migrant patients' specific health needs or barriers.
Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE.
Dimension 1: Entitlements
- Only permanent residents, unaccompanied minors and pregnant women enjoy equal entitlements to healthcare coverage in LT ranked 35th out of 38, only above LV, MT and KR and similar to EE
- Paid employment is an additional condition for legal migrants
- Asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants are only entitled to free emergency care and, if living in foreigner registration centres, to primary healthcare
- There are also problems of documentation for all immigrants and of discretion for asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants
Dimension 2: Access policies
- Support is slightly weak to help migrant patients access services in LT, as is average across Central Europe
- Legal migrants and asylum-seekers can get basic information about entitlements and health issues in EN and RU (see stronger policies in Southern and Western Europe)
- Cultural mediators are rarely available outside Registration Centres
- No explicit requirements that service providers cannot turn away or report undocumented migrants, unlike in most countries
Dimension 3: Responsive services
- Hardly any support to make services more responsive in LT, a weakness across Central Europe
- Only ad hoc measures in specific areas/services to hire RU or PL-speaking staff
- A small majority of countries provide training, interpreters and some way to involve migrants themselves in information/service delivery
Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change
- Authorities have a basic foundation to address migrant health in integration and/or health policy
- Some data, research and migrant stakeholders are available to develop a migrant health policy addressing specific needs
- No policy yet on migrant/ethnic minority health
Besides voting rights, non-EU citizens have few opportunities for political participation
Who are disenfranchised from voting?
Only temporary non-EU citizens (without permanent residence) are disenfranchised in local elections in LT.
Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?
Beyond limited voting rights, LT does not value the active civic participation of immigrants, which is the situation on average in Central Europe. LT ranks 31st out of 38. Given the small size of the immigrant population within the electorate, voting rights may not be enough to boost their wider civic participation and to improve integration policy. Outside Central Europe in other new countries of immigration, non-EU citizens can be members of political parties and associations, consulted by strong and independent integration fora and supported through state-funded immigrant associations (e.g. see FI, IE, PT, ES). Immigrants should see some of these measures emerge in LT, following implementation of its Integration Action Plan (already +1 point in 2014).
Dimension 1: Electoral rights
- Non-EU nationals with permanent residence have the right to vote in local elections (as in 21 MIPEX countries) and stand in local elections (as in 14)
Dimension 2: Political liberties
- LT denies basic political liberties to non-EU immigrants, which only occurs in Central Europe and TU
- They cannot be members of political associations (removed in CZ in 2012) or members of the parties that they can vote or stand for as candidates
- In 2014, the right to freely assemble in political parties (but not membership) was extended to EU citizen permanent residents, but not to non-EU citizens
Dimension 3: Consultative bodies
- The 2014 Action Plan on Integration announced that the national government would establish a consultative forum on integration
- The government has to define whether the forum has institutional powers and how immigrant-run associations will be elected, representative and leading in the forum (see examples in DK, FI, DE, PT, ES)
Dimension 4: Implementation policies
- Beyond occasional projects, non-EU citizens are not supported through information campaigns and structural funding for their civic participation
How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?
The majority of non-EU citizens are enfranchised in LT local elections as permanent residents. The majority of non-EU-born in LT have naturalised as LT citizens with equal national voting rights. Both the non-EU-born and non-EU permanent residents make up a very small part of the electorate, given the small size of the immigrant population.
Becoming long-term residents provides immigrants with their best chances to participate in LT society
Who can become long-term residents?
The vast majority of non-EU men and women have lived in LT the 5+ years required to become long-term residents, according to 2011/2 estimates. As in most Central European countries, the small number of non-EU citizens are relatively long-settled in the country.
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
LT's slightly favourable path to long-term residence provides immigrants with their best chances to invest in their integration and participate fully in society. Since this policy is regulated by EU law, the eligibility rules, conditions and rights are similar across most European countries, including LT, ranking 21st out of 38. The procedure should be quicker since 2014 (+2 points on MIPEX). In contrast, non-EU citizens in LT are uncertain about their chances to pass the language/integration requirement and discretionary procedure, more so than in most countries.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- The eligibility criteria for the standard 5-year-residence requirement are as favourable
- All their time as students in Lithuania qualifies, but they disqualify for periods abroad
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Non-EU immigrants must prove their basic legal income and language fluency (A2 level), as in most countries
- However they must also pass integration conditions as restrictive as for citizenship (exam on LT Constitution)
- All are neither guaranteed enough free courses and materials to pass the language/integration test, nor exempted from the test for education or vulnerability reasons
- This requirement go far beyond average trends to impose just basic requirements (e.g. CZ, FR, PT) or none at all (no requirement on language in 14 or integration in 23)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- Long-term residents in LT are some of the most insecure in their status, as in several Central European countries
- Procedure shortened from 6-to-4 months under 2013 Aliens' Legal Status Law Article 33
- Permit lasts 5-years (permanent in 27 others) and expires after 1 year outside the EU (extended in 2012 to 2 years for highly-skilled workers for work, studies or lawful activities)
- EC Long-term Residence aims to give ‘reinforced protection against expulsion’, in line with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights that security is a fundamental characteristic of this status
- A long-term resident in LT will always risk being expelled, regardless of how long they have had their status and without consideration of some key personal circumstances
Dimension 4: Rights Associated
- LT long-term residents enjoy equal socio-economic rights, as in 29 other countries as well as the local right to vote
How many immigrants are long-term residents?
18,579 non-EU citizens are long-term residents in LT. 93% have EU long-term residence, with the right to work and live in other EU Member States.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?
- Most long-settled in LT
- Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in LT and other countries with restrictive naturalisation policies (e.g. Baltics, Central Europe)
How often do immigrants become long-term residents?
The majority of non-EU citizens in LT are long-term residents, although the estimates range from 60-98% depending on the data used (total number of non-EU citizens vs. total number of non-EU valid permits). These numbers are comparable to the other Baltic and Central European countries. The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. Countries like LT that restrict naturalisation but facilitate permanent residence (as the 'second-class citizenship' alternative) end up with very high numbers of permanent resident foreigners (e.g. Baltics, Central Europe, IT, ES).
Access to Nationality
LT takes first step in long path to make citizenship policy favourable for integration of newcomers
Who can become a citizen?
About 3/4 non-EU citizens in LT have lived there long enough to apply for LT citizenship. This 2011/2 estimate is one of the highest shares of potential citizens among European countries (though lower than in EE & LV). An estimated 10% of non-EU citizens were actually born in LT (though lower than in EE & LV).
How easily can immigrants become citizens?
Ordinary immigrants must wait a long time and prepare on their own to become citizens in LT, as in several other Central European countries. While the path to citizenship has improved for refugees and stateless persons (see box), the general rules on eligibility and dual nationality have not been reformed to prepare for LT's future as a country of immigration, as recently happened in CZ and PL.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Compared to most MIPEX countries, the wait is much longer in LT for ordinary immigrants (10 years vs. 7 years on average) and spouses of LT citizens (7 years vs. 3-5)
- Now a generation after independence, foreigners' children and even grandchildren born or educated in LT are still treated as foreigners, going against international trends (now 18 MIPEX countries, recently CZ and DK)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Immigrants experience a free procedure and relatively basic requirements
- The language level (A2) and exemptions would make the language/citizenship test attainable if all applicants were guaranteed sufficient free courses, study materials and practice tests (see EE, DE, DK)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- The procedure should now be short, but remains relatively discretionary in LT, as in many Central European countries
- Applicants can be rejected, even if meeting the legal conditions (unlike in PL and most Northern European countries), and can lose their new citizenship, even if leading to statelessness (unlike the majority of MIPEX countries)
Dimension 4: Dual nationality
- A major obstacle to naturalisation for most immigrants remains the requirement to renounce their previous citizenship
- Dual nationality is allowed now as an exception for refugees in LT (recent exceptions in BG, DE, EE, LV) and as a rule in most other countries (recently CZ, DK, PL)
- Countries increasingly find that dual nationality is harder to avoid, easier to regulate and unrelated with integration
Since a 2006 Constitutional Court and 2010 Presidential veto established that dual nationality should be 'extraordinarily rare exceptions', the 2010 Citizenship Law opened this opportunity for refugees and limited cases of former and current LT emigrants. Ordinance 1K-812 of 6 September 2011 further improved the procedure by capping its duration at 6 months. The May 2013 Citizenship Law Amendment shortened the residence period for naturalisation for stateless persons from 10 to 5 years, following ratification of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. But LT retained the right to withdraw LT citizenship on several grounds.
How many immigrants are becoming citizens?
In 2012, LT naturalised only 202 people, fewer than any other EU country, alongside SK (255). Most small EU countries (BG, CZ, EE, MT, SI) naturalised at least 1000, which is five times more than Lithuania. Most naturalisations occurred in the years immediately after independence. Since 2008, the number has been the lowest in the EU and hovered between 200-600 (mostly stateless persons).
What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?
- Most long-settled in LT
- Most from developed countries and thus less likely to naturalise
- Nearly all from countries allowing dual nationality
How often do immigrants become citizens?
An estimated 90% of non-EU-born adults have become LT citizens. Citizenship policies after independence led to a relatively high number of naturalisations of long-settled residents. But by 2012, non-EU citizens were less likely to naturalise in LT than in most European countries. The naturalisation rate in LT was just as low as in countries with restrictive naturalisation policies, such as AT, EE, LV and SK.
Discrimination victims in LT can turn to a strong equality body, but with weak discrimination laws and weak mechanisms to access justice; the small number of victims in LT seem to hardly ever report discrimination incidents
Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?
Relatively small numbers of LT residents say that they experience racial/ethnic and religious discrimination (around 2%), according to 2012 comparable EU data.
Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?
All residents in Lithuania enjoy less discrimination protection than citizens in most European countries.
Dimension 1: Definitions
- The legal definitions of discrimination in the Law of Equal Treatment are average for Central Europe
- Judicial interpretation is required to confirm that nationality discrimination on the basis of citizenship is prohibited as direct or indirect discrimination in all areas of life
- The law protects against all grounds of discrimination, including discrimination by association and on the basis of assumed characteristics
- All actors in the private and public sector, including the police force, must respect the law, as in most countries
Dimension 2: Fields of application
- LT, like the other Baltic states, has basically done the minimum that the EU requires to fight discrimination
- Racial/ethnic and religious discrimination are clearly prohibited in employment and education, while gaps appear on the provision of goods and services
- 30 other countries have taken a 'horizontal' approach to outlaw racial/ethnic and religious discrimination in all areas of life, including social security/protection and housing
Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms
- The mechanisms to enforce the law are not much better, far below average for Central Europe and most European countries
- Since the July 2008 amended Law on Equal Treatment, victims can now benefit from sharing the burden of proof (as in most countries) and bring a civil case before the court Discriminatory motivation will also be treated as an aggravating factor, following criminal code changes that correspond to provision in a near-majority of countries
- Still, potential victims are discouraged by the challenge to bring forward a case alone (see clearer role for equality NGOs in 16 and for class actions or actio popularis in 21)
- The long procedures do not involve full sanctions or formal dispute resolution alternatives
Dimension 4: Equality policies
- Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson has relatively strong powers to help potential victims, but receives weak support from government equality policies
- The Ombudsperson can offer independent advice, issue binding appealable decisions and instigate its own investigations and proceedings, but not engage in proceedings on victims' behalf
- Departments on equal opportunities have not gotten government to adopt broad positive actions or equality duties possible under LT law (see instead Inter-institutional Action Plan for Promotion of Non-discrimination 2012-2014)
How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?
Few cases are received by the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, a quasi-judicial body. In 2013, only 10 complaints were received on ethnic discrimination and 5 on religious discrimination. In neighbouring EE/LV, very small numbers of complaints were also recorded. Further statistics on discrimination cases are missing in LT.
What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases
- Around 40% of LT residents say they know their rights as discrimination victims (higher than in EE/LV)
- Low levels of trust in police and justice system in Central and Southern Europe
- Most immigrants are long-settled and naturalised and thus more likely to report discrimination cases
How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?
Even with the small number of residents reportedly experiencing discrimination, hardly any complaints are made on racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. The non-reporting of discrimination remains the norm in LT as in most European countries with relatively new and weak legislation.
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