Permanent Residence in Bulgaria
Bulgaria (officially the Republic of Bulgaria) is a country in Southern Europe. Bulgaria borders five other countries: Romania to the north, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia to the west, and Greece and Turkey to the south. The Black Sea defines the extent of the country to the east. Bulgaria’s capital city and largest settlement is Sofia, with a permanent population of 1,378,000 people. In 1945, after World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and was a part of the Eastern Bloc until the political changes in Eastern Europe in 1989/1990, when the Communist Party allowed multi-party elections and Bulgaria undertook a transition to parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism with mixed results. Bulgaria functions as a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic. A member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and a founding state of the OSCE, it has a high Human Development Index of 0.743, ranking 58th in the world in 2010.
Permanent Residence by Investment Program
- Full Cash Option. The investor deposits BGN 1,000,000 (approximately EUR 512,000) in the Guaranteed Governmental Bond Portfolio for a period of 5 years. No further payment is required. At the end of the five-year period, the amount BGN 1,000,000 is returned to the investor with no accrued interest. The Investment is fully guaranteed by the government bonds.
- Loan Option. The investor pays a reduced amount of EUR 195,000. The reduced amount is used to finance a 1,000,000 BGN loan from a Bulgarian chartered bank. This loan is initiated and repaid at no further cost to the Investor. So, the amount of EUR 195,000 is not returned to the investor at the end of the five-year period as it is so called walk-away route of investment.
Benefits and Advantages on the Permanent Residence Scheme:
- Investor and all his family members (wife and minor children) get Permanent Residence in Bulgaria. Permanent residence gives the same rights as BG citizens, except voting. We would like to remind our readers that normally (without investment of BGN 1,000,000) foreigner must obtain temporary residence permit in Bulgaria, renew it annually, and only after 5 years or residence is entitled to apply for permanent residency.
- Government guaranteed investment. Loan options of investment are available.
- Five years after maintaining the residency entitled you to apply for citizenship of Bulgaria.
- No physical residence required for Main Applicant and dependents. Physical residency is waived for qualified investors.
- Relatively fast (from two to three months) application process.
- Opportunity to become resident of the European Union. Easy access to EU countries – no visa requirement.
- Holding a residence visa also enable the applicants to enter and leave the country as many times as they wish without visas.
- Free education and medical system throughout EU.
- Lowest taxation in EU and special exemption for immigration through investment applicants.
Legislative Summary of Amendments
On February 23, 2013, new important amendments in the Investment Promotion Act and resulting changes in the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act and the Bulgarian Citizenship Act came in force. The Bulgarian language competence requirement and the relinquishment of the current nationality requirement for applicants who invest in government bonds are waived. These changes make the Bulgarian Residency and Citizenship Program even more attractive.
Fast Track Way to EU-Citizenship by Investment
Moreover, new option is introduced for those applicants who invest additional BGN 1,000,000 (EUR 512,000) into government bonds. Loan option with non-refundable EUR 75,000 payment is also available at this stage if investor does not wish to invest the full amount. These investors will have the privilege of being able to apply for Bulgarian citizenship after 1 year with permanent residency status (instead of normal 5 years). After citizenship is granted the applicant will be expected to maintain the investments for a period of two more years. Government Bond investment is a conservative one (very secure). Therefore, we consider Bulgarian Residency and Citizenship Program to be the best passport scheme in EU (because it is more than twice cheaper than Malta or Cyprus with comparable passport quality). More information about the Bulgarian procedure can be found here: Bulgarian (EU) citizenship by investment
Questions and answers regarding relocation to Bulgaria through investment scheme:
Question: When visa D is issued how many days the applicant can spend in Bulgaria? Suppose if I want to visit Bulgaria, apply for PR and wait for the decision in Bulgaria. Is it possible?
Answer: Visa D has 180 days (6 months) validity and the holder of the visa could stay in Bulgaria during this period. The law requires PR application to be loaded within the first 3 months of the validity of the visa. The approval term is 3 months, so the applicant has enough time to reside and wait for the approval.
Question: Suppose, I use my Barclays bank account to remit the monies to the Bulgarian Government for the initial investment of EUR 512,000 and I also use the same account for the upcoming investment for application through the fast-track program. I want to ask you if there would a problem in receiving my monies back after the 2-year period from the date of the citizenship if I was to close this account in the future. How are the investment monies refunded to me? Can I provide any account in my name or does it have to be the same account?
Answer: The money will be refunded to any personal bank account you indicate when the moment comes.
Question: I am a doctor from India. I am 48 years old. My husband is 51 years old and he is a Chartered Accountant. We have a son who will be 20 years this November 2012; he is in school and totally dependent on us. Can you suggest what the best option is? We want relocate permanently from India to Hungary, Belgium or any other EU country? Which would offer us a Permanent Residency?
Answer: There is no program in EU (except Bulgaria) that offers directly permanent residency. In Hungary of Belgium you may apply for temporary residence permit (valid for one year) if you incorporate a company and provide a couple of new jobs for local citizens. Also, if you choose Belgium you will be expected to have a solid and realistic business plan. Permanent residency will be possible after 3 years of residence (both in Hungary and Belgium). Temporary residence permit is not renewed automatically. You will be expected to show some activity in your company. In Bulgaria, you can get permanent residency directly if you are ready to invest EUR 512,000 into Bulgarian bonds for 5 years with zero interest.
Question: Thank you for your reply. We are three people in the family (me, my husband, and my son). I want you to please be specific. After making a single investment of EUR 512,000, will all three of us can get permanent residency in Bulgaria? Please, note that my son is 20 years old.
Answer: To qualify as a dependent under the Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Program, the child must be single and under 18 at the time of their own residence application. Therefore, the son of your client is not considered dependent child. The son can either wait for his father (the main applicant) to get his citizenship and then apply in turn (regardless of his age and marital status at the time of this application), or apply for the program as a main applicant under the sponsorship of his father (and invest another 512,000 EUR). I hope that you will find the information useful.
Question: We are Russian family interested in Bulgarian residence-by-investment program. We are married in church and have two children. But officially we are in common-law relationship. We have no state marriage certificate, only a church one. Will it be sufficient to participate in the program as a family or we need to be married officially?
Answer: We would recommend obtaining a legal state marriage license/certificate. A church marriage, unless legally recognized, will not be accepted in Bulgaria.
Question: Can we invest form offshore in order to apply for PR in Bulgaria?
Answer: No. You must transfer the investment amount to Bulgaria from a personal bank account.
Question: I have some questions about obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment. How many times should the Investor visit Bulgaria for this program before getting the permanent residency and citizenship? Are there any restrictions for Middle Eastern countries people such as Iran?
Answer: The investor is expected to visit Bulgaria twice to get permanent residency and twice to get citizenship. All the family members will be expected to visit Bulgaria. There are no restrictions for Iran in Bulgaria (sanctions are imposed by the USA and some other countries).
Question: What is the advantage of Bulgaria to similar citizenship programs like the one In Portugal? And do all members of family need to visit the country or just the investor? And what residency do you suggest for a family without obligatory physical residence requirement?
Answer: Portugal has no citizenship program, only residence by investment is available. In order to get citizenship in Portugal you will be expected to pass a language test and to prove residence of 5 years. Residency programs without residence requirement are available in Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, and Latvia. But only in Bulgaria it leads to citizenship and passport without actual residence in the country.
Question: I have been married to citizen of Bulgaria for 22 years, now we have a son of 19 years. We are still married till today. My son and I would like to get dual citizenship this summer if is possible. How can we do and is it possible? My husband has dual citizenship; he has a Bulgarian passport and a Maltese passport. This summer my son and I are coming to Bulgaria for a month and we wish to issue dual citizenship and Bulgarian ID’s, like how my husband has.
Answer: You are not eligible for BG citizenship because you do not reside there. If you relocate to Bulgaria you will be entitled to get permanent residency and apply for citizenship after 5 years of actual residence in the country. Your son can apply for citizenship without residency in BG because of ethnic origin from Bulgarian father. But in any case, he will not be able to get passport this summer. Citizenship applications are processed during 6 – 18 months on average.
Question: My wife is Bulgarian citizen. We married in Bulgaria but now we live in Holland. Can I get Bulgarian citizenship or if I live in Bulgaria how long I wait to get Bulgarian citizenship through marriage?
Answer: If you do not reside physically in Bulgaria you have no right to apply for citizenship, permanent residence and even for temporary residency permit in Bulgaria based on marriage.
In order to get permanent residency by marriage you must reside in Bulgaria for 5 years. But if you have a common child you can apply for permanent residency immediately. There are no incentives for Bulgarian citizenship. You will be expected to reside in Bulgaria with permanent residency permit for 5 years in order to become eligible to apply for citizenship.
If you have any questions or wish to use our legal assistance in obtaining permanent residence or citizenship of Bulgaria, contact us today