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2019.10.08 12:01

Asylum seekers in limbo may be allowed jobs in Lithuania

BNS2019.10.08 12:01

Lithuania's authorities are considering allowing asylum seekers who have been awaiting a decision for a long time to work in the country.

The government decided last week to table a bill that would make it possible for an asylum seeker to seek employment if the Migration Department fails to process his or her application within nine months through no fault of the applicant.

Currently, such persons have no access to employment.

The bill also proposes to exempt such asylum seekers from the obligation to obtain a separate work permit.

Under the bill, if an asylum seeker earns up to 366 euros per month, the income will not be deducted to cover the costs incurred by the state.

The minimum wage in Lithuania is 555 euros before tax.

Evelina Gudzinskaitė, the Migration Department's director, says the department deals with 300 to 500 asylum applications a year, of which some take longer than nine months to process.

"Sometimes that happens because of the foreigners' trips, but sometimes because of the department's increased workload," the director told BNS.

"Most often, however, we make a decision and asylum seekers appeal it in court. They are considered asylum seekers with no right to work pending a final court decision," she added.

In very rare cases, the Court of Appeals send a case to the department for reconsideration, and the process then can take up to two years, according to the official.