February 10, 2023

On January 19, 2023, the National Assembly finally adopted the amendments to the Law on Labour Migration and Labour Mobility (LLMLM). They broaden the field of application of the so-called Blue Card Residence and Work Permit and facilitate access to the Bulgarian labour market. They also increase the opportunities for employment of foreigners by local Bulgarian employers.

First of all, the Blue Card Residence and Work Permit under the LLMLM will now be issued for a period of up to five years, but not shorter than 24 months. The amendment made to Article 17 lowers the requirements for obtaining a highly qualified job, e.g. having a university degree is no longer a mandatory requirement. In some cases, the applicant will be able to prove that they meet the criteria for holding a position with a high professional qualification by producing a document issued by a competent authority for having at least five years of experience in a position that is comparable to such a higher education position. Thus, within the meaning of this law, foreigners can practically be employed in any position.

Another amendment to Article 17, Paragraph 2, Clause 1(b) states that highly qualified positions will be determined with a list by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy. However, the amendment of the next Clause 1(c) allows, when holding other positions beyond this list (i.e. any other employment positions), that the knowledge, skills and competence of the applicant be certified by an official document issued by a competent authority, for at least five years of professional experience at a level comparable to an acquired higher education, and which are associated with positions or the sector as specified in the employment agreement.

Next, with the adoption of this bill, the minimum term for which such employment agreements can be signed has been halved, from twelve to six months.

Now, any foreigner who has obtained a Blue Card Residence and Work Permit in another UE member state is allowed to enter the Republic of Bulgaria without a visa. A visa will no longer be required where the foreigner holds a valid EU Blue Card issued by another member state and exercises their right to short-term or long-term employment within Bulgaria under Article 18b of the Law on Labour Migration and Labour Mobility. In such cases, where the permit is issued by another UE member state fully implementing the European Union and Schengen acquis, the foreigner shall enter the territory of Bulgaria by producing their valid Blue Card permit only.

These changes enable Blue Card holders to work in another country within the European Union. For example, if a foreigner is employed in Bulgaria and has obtained their permit in Bulgaria, they can be posted to another EU member state, where they can enter and stay for a period of up to 90 days for each 180-day period. After that, they may apply for a residence and work permit in the respective country, as long as at least twelve months have passed since their card was issued by the first member state.

An opportunity is also created to perform freelance activities within the Republic of Bulgaria for the duration of the stay in parallel with highly qualified employment. A permit from the Employment Agency will no longer be required for this and the previous requirements for higher education, acquired professional experience, and fluency in Bulgarian language will no longer be applicable.

A new category of persons who, with these changes, gain access to the labour market for highly qualified employment, shall be the foreigners who have received international protection or temporary protection in Bulgaria or in another country, meet the requirements for exercising highly qualified employment and are located within the Republic of Bulgaria. It is important to note that such an opportunity to start legal work will now be given to all foreigners who have submitted an application for international protection or for temporary protection, for the period from submission to the ruling on their application for protection.

According to the changes, foreigners who have the status of long-term residents in the European Union and exercise their right to reside in the Republic of Bulgaria for the purpose of carrying out economic activity as an employed or self-employed person will now have the opportunity to obtain a Blue Card Residence and Work Permit.

Foreigners can now work remotely, if this is provided in their employment agreement or in an annex thereto, respectively, from another settlement, under the conditions of a notification regime with the Migration Directorate.

Should you need a consultation or representation before the state institutions in connection with an EU Blue Card Residence and Work Permit issuing procedures, please do not hesitate to contact us using the „Contacts” section on our website.



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