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During an official visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Minister of Interior Eimutis Misiūnas signed a Lithuanian-Vietnamese agreement on citizen repatriation (hereon – repatriation agreement), a cabinet press release states according to lrt.lt.
Flag of Vietnam
Flag of Vietnam
© AFP/Scanpix

The repatriation agreement is important in seeking to more effectively combat illegal migration. Specialists have observed increased activity among criminal groups that deal with illegal migration activities. In 2018, 331 illegal migrants were found in Lithuania, 149 of them (45%) being Vietnamese citizens. As the absolute majority of other illegal migrants, Vietnamese citizens choose Lithuania as a transit country, seeking to reach target countries such as Poland, Germany and others.

"The return procedure is a rather complicated process, thus I am glad that after long negotiations, we have signed an agreement with Vietnam, which will help more effectively and expediently perform the necessary procedures in identifying individuals, issuing the necessary documents and performing the other return procedures," Minister of Interior E. Misiūnas says.

Vietnamese citizens detained in Lithuania are housed in the Foreigners' Registration Centre. If the individuals have personal ID and there are no obstructions to returning them to their country of origin, the return process usually takes from 1 to 2 months. However, currently problems of illegally arrived and detained Vietnamese citizens' identification and return document reception is a frequent occurrence, leading to illegal migrants often remaining in Lithuania for a year or longer.

The minister met with Vietnam's ministers of public security, interior affairs and foreign affairs, visited the country's immigration department, with which the Lithuanian State Border Security Service (VSAT) has established direct connections, also establishing a hotline in 2017.

"We are one of the countries at the European Union's exterior border that guard it. Thus, border security and control, also ensuring internal security is a priority, which is inseparable from regulated, legal and controlled migration processes and is hardly imaginable without international cooperation," Minister of Interior E. Misiūnas says.

It is expected for the now established links to ensure active institutional cooperation between Lithuania and Vietnam, ensuring smooth implementation of the repatriation agreement.

An agreement between the Lithuanian government and Socialist Republic of Vietnam government has also been signed on removing the visa regime for diplomatic passport holders. This agreement will ease travel for both countries' diplomats.

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