Within global asylum regulations, states must give access to asylum procedures for people who seek international protection. Many governments, Lithuania included, are nevertheless implementing hard line or restrictive asylum policies and practices in order to deter and to prevent asylum-seekers from seeking refuge on their territory, including by interception and interdiction measures, visa controls, administrative detention, and/or restrictive interpretations of the refugee definition. Protection needs however cannot be set aside while implementing measures to address public safety considerations at the borders.
The right to seek asylum has a declarative nature and automatically provides territorial protection status, which is reinforced by Art. 33 and 34 of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. Indeed, any person is a refugee within a given legal framework if he meets the criteria of the refugee definition in that framework, whether he is formally recognized as a refugee or not. The Court of Justice of the European Union, in its judgment of 14 May 2019 in Joined Cases C-391/16, C-77/17 and C-78/17, stated that both a non-EU national and a stateless person who has a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her country of origin or residence must be classified as a refugee within the meaning of both the Directive and the Geneva Convention, irrespective of whether or not he/she has been granted official refugee status as defined by the Asylum Qualification Directive.
Restrictive asylum policies should not encroach on human rights, and rights of foreigners in particular. In recent decision Vilnius Regional Administrative Court has found that the law provides no legal basis to refuse the application for residence permit based on the application for asylum submited by the same foreigner.
The court agreed that Regulation of the Procedure for Issuing Temporary Residence Permits to Aliens in the Republic of Lithuania, approved by the Order of the Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania No. 1V-329 of 12 October 2005 has no provision preventing submission of the application for the residence permit in such case. Article 28(1) of the Law on Foreigners and point 11 of the Regulation stipulate that a foreigner who is legally residing in the Republic of Lithuania shall submit an application for a temporary residence permit to the Migration Department. Since asylum seeker’s presence in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania is legal, the law does not prevent an asylum seeker to apply for residence permit.