How to become a Bulgarian citizen: stages of legal immigration
Bulgaria’s healing climate, engaging quality of life, and easy social adaptation attract those who want to settle here permanently. After getting a legal stay permit here, one can live comfortably, have a decent job, open a business, buy real estate or just spend every summer enjoying the southern sun and the warm sea. The authorities are loyal towards immigrants, offering a variety of programs to obtain residency or citizenship.
How to get the residence permit
The residence permit grants the right to stay on the territory of Bulgaria for a year. To obtain it, it is needed to justify the desire to stay in the country and prepare the necessary list of documents. Ones who have the right to apply for the important document are:
- those of Bulgarian origin;
- family members (children, spouses) of a person legally and permanently residing in the country;
- students of Bulgarian teaching facilities;
- entrepreneurs who have purchased land in the country and created at least 10 jobs for Bulgarian citizens (not applicable to EU citizens);
- international media correspondents (accredited);
- investors ready to invest a certain amount of money in economic development;
- no more than 3 employees of a representative office of a foreign company that is officially registered in Bulgaria (in the BCCI) and has been operating for 2 years, according to the latest changes in the aliens’ act (23.04.2019);
- wealthy pensioners;
- a Bulgarian citizen’s spouse;
- a spouse of a foreign citizen permanently residing in the country (having permanent residence);
- employees of professions in demand and some other categories.
The first step to get the residence permit is to obtain a «D» visa at an Embassy of Bulgaria to enter the country. Upon arrival, to check in at a police station, at the same time to get a mailing card and, with a package of documents prepared in advance, go to the migration service. The list of required documents include:
an application in the Bulgarian language;
- a copy of a travel passport with a visa and an entry stamp;
- a lease agreement of an apartment/house or proof of the right of ownership;
- proof of financial solvency (a bank statement);
- health insurance;
- a mailing card;
- a no criminal record proof;
- a receipt of the administrative fee;
- for elderly people, a photocopy of a pension certificate and a recent certificate of received over the past 3 months payments will be needed.
Please, note that documents are considered only in the Bulgarian language, so translation services will be necessary. In case of a positive decision, the applicant is issued the residence permit that is valid for a year. In addition to the residence permit, its holder receives several advantages: free entry/exit from the country, registration of children in preschool institutions and schools, the right to invite relatives for a visit and other privileges. The residence permit is renewed annually, and after 5 years, one can apply for permanent residence.
The necessary conditions of permanent residence
The right to reside permanently and legally in the country is an important step towards citizenship. A permanent residence holder has almost all the social benefits of a Bulgarian citizen, except for the right to elect government representatives. A five-year stay in the country based on the residence permit is an indispensable, but not the only condition. With the possibility to leave Bulgaria at any time, it is necessary to monitor the length of the total period of stay in Bulgaria: it cannot be less than 30 months for all 5 years. A spouse of a permanent residence holder can only apply for the residence permit, but minor children have all the rights to obtain the permanent residence.
A significant bonus for those who have Bulgarian roots: they can get the permanent residence without prior five-year residence with a regular renewal of documents. Another option to obtain the permanent residence permit is to invest in government bonds. Their amount is about $512 thousand (BGN 1 million). After 5 years, investors, as well as other permanent residence holders, can apply for Bulgarian citizenship. By doubling the investment, one can expect an accelerated procedure, only a year after getting the permanent residence.
How to become a Bulgarian citizen
Prerequisites for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship are:
- starting a family (with a Bulgarian citizen);
- ten years of the legal residence in the country;
- special merit;
The process of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship is quite long and can take up to 12 months. An adult applicant must be fluent in Bulgarian, have means of subsistence and health insurance, and have no problems with the law (criminal records).
It is important to note that only Bulgarian citizenship allows traveling within the EU without a visa.