Immigration to Bulgaria: Preferred Options
September 9, 2022
In most cases foreign citizens choose:
- Commercial representation in the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
- EU Blue Card, or
- Purchase of property for a minimum of EUR 310,000.
The Law on Aliens in the Republic of Bulgaria provides many different options for obtaining a residence permit by foreign citizens. However, many of them imply specific requirements for applicants which are hardly achievable, e.g. the requirement that a company owned by the applicant should employ at least ten nationals under an employment contract.
Other requirements are practically impossible to satisfy due to reasons outside the law, e.g. in order to obtain a residency permit, a foreign pensioner must have an open bank account in Bulgaria; and no bank in the country is currently opening accounts for foreign nationals who do not have Bulgarian residency. Thus, they are trapped in a vicious circle, and this particular legal option is not at all plausible.
So, in this article, we will be discussing the three most preferred options for foreign citizens to reside in the Republic of Bulgaria in recent years. They are preferred because the relevant procedures take a fairly short time to perform, approximately two or three months. In addition, the administrative burden regarding the documentation required from applicants is not high and they do not find it difficult to obtain the required papers. What should not be ignored is that the applicable government fees for obtaining a residence permit under these three options are also not high.
1. Registering a commercial representation of a foreign company in the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)
This is quite an easy and prompt opportunity for foreign citizens who own a company abroad if the owner of the company agrees to open a commercial representative office in Bulgaria.
The registration of a commercial representation is grounds for issuing a long-term residence permit for a period of one year which can be extended. This registration can be successfully completed in less than a month. The BCCI issues certificates to commercial representatives enabling them to apply for a long-term residence visa (visa D) in Bulgaria and based on that to obtain a residence permit thereafter.
What is notable in this case
– In a commercial representation office, up to three foreign nationals, representatives of the foreign company may obtain a residency permit, and
– The registered commercial representation office may not perform any commercial activity and has merely representative functions.
What is also important is the fact that this type of permit does not entitle a foreign national to work under an employment contract in Bulgaria. However, they may be involved in another type of activity, e.g. by registering their own company.
Any foreign citizen who has obtained the right of long-term residence in Bulgaria may bring their family with them. Then the Family Reunification procedure takes place.
2. Blue Card for highly qualified foreigners in Bulgaria
The European Union Blue Card type of permit is intended for highly qualified foreign workers who are university graduates with a duration of studies of at least three years.
In order to obtain a European Union Blue Card type of permit, a foreign citizen should sign an employment contract with a Bulgarian employer. Their remuneration should not be less 1.5 times the average salary in the Republic of Bulgaria according to the available data for the twelve months prior to the effective date of the employment contract.
Currently, the average gross monthly salary is BGN 1,566 for January 2022, BGN 1,545 for February, and for BGN 1,668 March.
There is no obstacle for a foreigner to register a limited liability company in Bulgaria, and then employ themselves under an employment contract with the abovementioned financial requirements for the purposes of obtaining a residency permit.
What is notable in this case
– The first step is to negotiate and sign an employment contract with a local employer, and only then one can apply for the right to stay in Bulgaria, and
– The permit issued in another EU member state may not be directly replaced with a permit issued by the Republic of Bulgaria. A new procedure shall take place after the expiry of the required minimum period.
3. Purchase of real property worth more than EUR 310,000
Investing in real property worth more than BGN 600,000 (approx. EUR 310,000) is the third most common option chosen by foreign nationals for immigration to Bulgaria. It is a preferred option because the Bulgarian real estate market is constantly developing, prices grow steadily and smoothly, and the amount invested in the purchase of real property is a good investment that is not lost.
The purchase and sale can be carried out both by an individual and by a company in which the foreign national has the interest of more than 50% in the company’s shares.
What is notable in this case
– In order to obtain a residency permit the real property should be newly purchased. Using already purchased and acquired property, even if it is of high value, is not allowed; such properties may not be a reason for obtaining a residency permit, and
– If the foreign citizen uses a loan for the purchase, its amount should not exceed 25% of the sales price.
It is also important that the purchase be made in an orderly manner so that the receipt of the invested funds can be confirmed by a Bulgarian banking institution.
What is common to all three options for immigration to Bulgaria
Immigration to Bulgaria is only possible by:
– Obtaining a long-term residence visa type D, and
– A permit for continuous, long-term, or permanent residence in the country.
Any person wishing to stay in Bulgaria for more than ninety days within a twelve-month period is required to have a residence permit.
Foreign nationals wishing to obtain the right of residence in the Republic of Bulgaria should have:
– Residence and address where they officially reside,
– Evidence that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during the entire legal stay in Bulgaria, and
– A valid medical insurance.
Note that currently, the residence permit in Bulgaria does not automatically ensure the right to travel or reside in (an)other European Union member state(s).
Yosifova, Ivanov, and Petrov Law Firm has many years of experience in each of the above procedures for immigration to Bulgaria. To date, every one of the proceedings initiated for our clients has ended in our favor.
Should you be interested in the options for a foreign national to reside in Bulgaria, please contact us at our “Contacts” section.
Receiving residency permit for Bulgaria through registration of Representative office of a foreign company
FAQ:Registration of trade representative office in Bulgaria – visa D and residence permit
Permanent residence in Bulgaria
Living in Bulgaria for EU citizens
Benefits and advantages of obtaining a residency permit in Bulgaria