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Bulgaria: Residency and citizenship in Bulgaria

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Petar Varbanov

Holders of valid ordinary passports from certain countries do not need a visa to visit Bulgaria for up to 90 days within each period of six months. Bulgarian visas are issued by the Bulgarian embassies and consulates abroad, not at the airports or the land and sea passport control points in Bulgaria. A visa is issued only to holders of passports or travel documents that are valid for at least three months after the end of the intended stay in Bulgaria and that contain a blank page for the attachment of visa vignettes.

A short-stay visa is issued to an alien for single or multiple entry into Bulgaria and a cumulative duration of the stay not exceeding 90 days within any six-month period, reckoned from the date of first entry.

The purpose of travel may be private visit; business trip; cultural exchange; sports; medical treatment or tourism.

A long-term stay in Bulgaria can be continuous with a one-year leave to remain (D-type visas), and permanent with an indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence). Applications for D-type visas can be submitted to Bulgaria's consular representations abroad. Applications for permanent residence can only be submitted in Bulgaria. Permission for a permanent residence may be obtained by aliens who have invested more than 1,000,000 BGN ($585,000) or increased their investment by this amount through the acquisition of shares in Bulgarian commercial companies, traded on a regulated Bulgarian market; shares and treasury bonds and derivative instruments issued by the state or by municipalities, with a residual maturity not less than six months; ownership rights over an isolated part of the property of a Bulgarian commercial company with more than 50% stake or municipal participation in the capital under the Act of Privatisation and Post-privatisation Control; shares or stocks owned by the state or municipalities in a Bulgarian commercial company in compliance with the Act of Privatisation and Post-privatisation Control; Bulgarian intellectual property – objects of copyright and related to rights, patent-protected inventions, utility models, trademarks, service marks and industrial designs; rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria; who have invested the sum mentioned above in a licensed credit institution in Bulgaria under a trust agreement for a period of at least five years and the deposit is not used, with reference to the same period, for securing of other cash credits from a credit institution in Bulgaria; or who were granted permission for long stay and who maintained the investment for more than five years.

Citizenship

A person who is not a Bulgarian citizen may acquire Bulgarian citizenship through naturalisation if, at the date of the application, the person meets the following requirements: is a graduate major; was granted permission for permanent residence in the Republic of Bulgaria not less than five years ago; has not been sentenced by a Bulgarian court for a premeditated crime of a general nature and has not been the subject of criminal proceedings for such a crime unless the person concerned has been rehabilitated; has an income and occupation enabling him or her to support himself or herself in the Republic of Bulgaria; has a good command of the Bulgarian language (this is subject to verification in accordance with a procedure established by an order of the Minister of Education and Culture); and was released from his or her previous citizenship or will be released from his or her citizenship as of the moment of acquiring the Bulgarian citizenship.

Those requirements are cumulative, which means that if a person wants to acquire Bulgarian citizenship in this way they must meet all the requirements.

Foreign investors who hold a permanent residence permit for at least five years may apply for Bulgarian citizenship (as of February 2013 the term could be decreased to one year for the investments to the real Bulgarian business creating working places or new technologies).

Petar Varbanov (petar.varbanov@eurofast.eu)

Eurofast Global, Sofia Office

Tel: +359 2 988 69 78

Website: www.eurofast.eu

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