Bulgaria streamlines its Residence and Citizenship Program

New investment options and requirements, streamlined application procedure and improved processing times are now available for Bulgarian citizenship candidates after a newly voted bill was published in the Bulgarian State Gazette on March 12, 2021.

New investment options and requirements, streamlined application procedure and improved processing times are now available for Bulgarian citizenship candidates after a newly voted bill was published in the Bulgarian State Gazette on March 12, 2021. The enhanced Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship comes into effect following recommendations of the European Commission, aimed at optimizing legislation on residency and citizenship by investment programs.

New investment requirements
  • Investment of BGN 500,000 (€255,646) in the capital of a trade company under which tangible or intangible assets are acquired and 10 or more jobs for Bulgarians are created; the reason for maintaining the foreigner’s permit and the investment must be proven to the Ministry of Economy
  • BGN 1 million in collective investment schemes (minimum net asset value requirements apply in both cases) or alternative investment funds licensed and registered by the Financial Supervision Commission and whose investment strategy is targeted predominantly towards Bulgarian companies and which solely invest in assets and/or bonds of Bulgarian companies, including special purpose investment companies
  • BGN 1 million investment in rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria
  • BGN 2 million investment in the share capital of a Bulgarian trade company implementing a priority investment project certified under the Investment Promotion Act and verified by the Ministry of Economy or in shares or bonds of Bulgarian companies, traded on a Bulgarian regulated market or multilateral trading facility in Bulgaria;
  • BGN 6 million investment in the capital of a non-publicly traded Bulgarian company

There is still a requirement to maintain the above investments for a period of at least 5 years.

Updated fast-track option

An improved fast-track option has been introduced for investors who already have a status of permanent resident and have held it for at least a year. The following investment options are now available:

  • Double the original investment of BGN 1 million under the same conditions as the original investment or
  • Invest at least BGN 1 million in the capital of a Bulgarian company implementing a priority investment project certified under the Investment Promotion Act and certified by the Ministry of Economy; or
  • The candidates who have opted to invest in a company and create jobs, have to increase their investment by at least BGN 1 million as a result of which at least 20 new jobs have to be created.
New streamlined application procedure

The application procedure is now simplified and a more prominent role has been given to the InvestBulgaria Agency. The Agency is now responsible for a newly introduced pre-approval step, where investors will be screened at the beginning of the process and will have to provide a minimum set of documents to the Agency.

Approved investors will still have to invest before applying for their investor visas and obtain approval prior to traveling for the submission of their permanent residence applications in person in Bulgaria.

Investor applications for citizenship will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice separately from other categories, which is expected to additionally improve processing times which are already reduced.

Amendment to dependents

The new bill stipulates that spouses of investors who had been granted Bulgarian citizenship can apply after holding permanent residency for continuous period of not less than 3 years.

Existing clients and current program deadline

Permanent residency applications under the previous investment requirements can still be submitted before May 31, 2021. Candidates who invested under the previous program requirements, will be allowed to apply for citizenship once the legislative conditions are met. Dependents will also be eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as the main applicant is granted Bulgarian citizenship.

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