By now you should be starting to receive and prepare your application evidence for the Lithuanian Consulate. Since organization is my thing, I had an obscene amount of file folders full of papers and information. However, I had one “final draft” folder that contained the actual items I would be handing to the Consulate. Every time I received one of those items, into the folder it went.
About one month after mailing my payment to the Lithuanian Archives, I received records in the mail. Since these records are very old, many of them have been lost over the years. I did not receive an actual birth certificate. However, I did receive an official signed letter from the Archives that states that both of my grandparents were in fact born in Lithuania, though they could not reproduce an actual birth certificate. I also received a copy of my grandfather’s prison card.
Interesting story about that:
My grandfather was imprisoned for refusing to fight for the communists. Pretty interesting story actually… His mother bribed prison guards with family jewelry so they would let him escape. For years after that they would cut his head out of pictures when sending letters home, to ensure there was no proof that he was alive, so that his family in Lithuania would be safe.
Sadly I did not receive any information on my grandmother beyond the confirmation that she was born in Lithuania.
So, lets recap. By now you should have the following documents:
- Birth or other record proving your ancestor was a valid citizen of Lithuania before 1940.
- Proof your ancestor left between 1940 and 1990.
- A birth certificate chain and possibly marriage licenses to show your relation to the ancestor.
- A copy of your passport.
After you obtain all of these documents there are still a few hoops to jump through. All documents must be authenticated via an Apostille. An Apostille is simply a form of government authentication that is recognized internationally, by certain countries. (Some countries require other forms of authentication.) It is important to remember that all documents must be ORIGINAL GOVERNMENT COPIES.
In order to obtain an Apostille, you must contact the state that your document came from. For example, my mother’s birth certificate is from Illinois. To obtain a Apostille on her birth certificate I had to contact the Illinois Secretary of State office.
Both my mother’s marriage license and my birth certificate are from Indiana, so to obtain an Apostille on those documents, I had to contact the Indiana Secretary of State. To obtain an Apostille in IL, you have a choice of requesting this by mail or by visiting the Secretary of State office either in Springfield or Chicago. Luckily I am close to Chicago, so I just walked in one day. It took maybe 15 minutes and cost 2.00 to receive an Apostille on my mother’s birth certificate. For my Indiana documents, I submitted my request by mail.
ALL documents must have an Apostille. The only exception is your passport, and any documents that have come from Lithuania. You do not need Apostille’s on your Lithuanian Archive documents, or your passport photocopy.
More on Apostilles in IL: https://www.
More on Apostilles in IN: http://www.state.in.us/sos/business/2377.htm<
In addition to each document having an Apostille, all documents must be translated into Lithuanian, by someone who can speak Lithuanian fluently. The only documents that do not need to be translated include your passport photocopy, any documents that came from Lithuania – as they are already in Lithuanian, and you do not need to translate your Apostille pages.
If you are fluent in Lithuanian, you have the option of translating the documents yourself or with the help of a family member. However, you MUST ensure that the translations are correct. You must sign that you are fluent in both English and Lithuanian, and have translated the documents to the best of your ability.
If you are unable to speak Lithuanian fluently (like me), you can choose to have these documents professionally translated via a CONSULATE APPROVED translator. In order to find a translator the consulate approved of, I called myself and obtained a few company names that the consulate works with.
The two services they approved include:
Advanced Translations: Jurgita LaFortune
This is who I went to, because it is close to my house. I took my entire folder of documents to the her, and paid about 110.00 total. She translated everything for me with her official letterhead and signature.
Balzekas Lithuanian Culture Museum
The woman from the Consulate told me they do translations here, but I was unable to find anything about it on the website. If you prefer this route, I’m sure you can call and ask for more information.
This may or may not be necessary. It seemed that when I called the Consulate to ask questions, each person I spoke with emphasized the importance of different items. One woman that I talked to insisted that I write an explanation of my grandparents’ story. Describing how and when they left, where they went, etc. I had my aunt write up a great explanation of their story, and had that translated as well. (This was a mistake and I will tell you why in Submitting your Dual Citizenship Application to the Lithuanian Consulate: Part 9)