Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Research Nov 03, 2022

Migration from Belarus and economic, social and political integration of immigrants in Lithuania

  • It is probable that there may be around 40,000 Belarusian citizens in Lithuania at present. This study conducted by means of a quantitative survey and in-depth interviews was aimed at determining the main reasons for Belarusians to come to Lithuania and the challenges they face in life and integration in the country.
  • Russia’s war in Ukraine has become a signal that temporary relocation to Lithuania may take longer than most Belarusians thought until recently. Such a situation may paradoxically stimulate the desire of Belarusians (both individuals and organizations) to integrate in Lithuania more strongly.
  • According to the survey, about 86% of the respondents left Belarus for political reasons. Most of those who came to Lithuania are people of working age who have a permanent source of income here (almost 70% of the respondents). 68% of the respondents have a residence permit in Lithuania, 15% have a humanitarian visa, and slightly more than 8% have received official asylum or are awaiting a decision on asylum.
  • The main reasons for the respondents to choose Lithuania rather than any other country are the possibility of obtaining a visa or a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, the absence of a language barrier, personal experience in Lithuania, a better political climate for civic and professional activities, and trust in the rule of law.
  • The influx of Belarusians to Lithuania does not cause significant costs for the budget, as only 10% of Belarusians take advantage of social programs in Lithuania, and some of these programs are implemented by non-governmental organizations. According to the preliminary calculations of Invest Lithuania, in 2021 companies that have relocated their employees paid more than EUR 20 million in taxes related toemployment relations (taking into account only personal income tax, without other taxes and economic efficiency multiplier).
  • The influx of refugees from Ukraine and the more favorable conditions for Ukrainian citizens to integrate into the labor market did not cause tension between Belarusians and Ukrainians in Lithuania. However, it promoted distrust of the Belarusian diaspora in Lithuanian institutions, especially because the basis for more favorable conditions for refugees from Ukraine, from the point of view of the Belarusian di- aspora, remains relatively unspecified.
  • Belarusians feel further vulnerable due to the fact that Belarusian agencies can use consular services as a means of surveillance and pressure even when abroad (consular services of the Republic of Belarus are required to obtain migration status in Lithuania for the purposes of work, study, in order to perform actions related to family status).
  • Respondents rate the sense of security in Lithuania at an average of 8.81 points out of 10, and the quality of life in Lithuania at an average of 7.62 points out of 10. Belarusians in Lithuania face challenges that are acute to all Lithuanian residents: inflation, concern about possible military aggression against Lithuania, shortage of places in children’s educational institutions, long waiting time in healthcare institutions, extremely high rents, reluctance to allow individuals with children to declare their place of residence in rented dwelling (and the illegal housing and labor market).
  • The study was conducted in Lithuania in June–September 2022. A quantitative opinion survey was conducted (on an online platform, with 335 respondents participating) as well as 11 in-depth interviews expanding the quantitative data analysis (5 interviews with professional human rights defenders and journalists, 3 interviews with business representatives, and 3 interviews with individuals who were not involved in civic activities until 2020 but faced repression or the risk of repression due to their political views).