Bulgaria’s Cabinet adopts draft law scrapping citizenship for short-term investments

Bulgarian passports and citizenship

Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved on October 2 draft amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act aimed at eliminating the possibility for foreigners who have acquired permanent residence status in Bulgaria for short-term investments to subsequently obtain citizenship under significantly facilitated conditions.

The same will apply to their family members.

The amendments will also apply to business people who have increased their investment under the same terms of the law to a value of at least two million leva (about a million euro).

A Bulgarian government statement said that practice shows that applicants for citizenship on these grounds had obtained permanent residence because of investments made mainly through the purchase of government securities worth more than a million leva or have invested more than one million leva in a licensed credit institution under a trust agreement management and, respectively, increased the investment under the same conditions to two million leva.

At the time of applying for Bulgarian citizenship or at any of the subsequent stages of the proceedings, it often turns out that the investment is not available due to the purchased securities having been sold.

There have been cases in which, when an investment is made through a trust management contract, the person does not hold bank accounts and is not registered as an investor in the bank in which the applicant said the capital had been invested in the form of cash or other financial assets.

At the same time, people applying for Bulgarian citizenship on this basis receive it much faster and without being obliged to master the Bulgarian language and to renounce their current citizenship, which makes it much easier for them, the statement said.

The project envisages an obligation for the applicant in the procedure for Bulgarian citizenship to notify the Ministry of Justice of any changes in the facts and circumstances related to Bulgarian citizenship and to submit relevant relevant documents related to the change.

It is proposed that failure to submit notification of the change should be a reason for canceling the person’s naturalisation.

The changes also create an obligation for institutions involved in the Bulgarian citizenship procedure – the Ministry of Interior and the State Agency for National Security (SANS) – to update their written statements on specific applications in case of changes and to submit these to the Ministry of Justice at the point that the Citizenship Council considers applications for citizenship.

The amendments provide for shortened deadlines for reports from the Ministry of Justce, SANS and Interior Ministry at the various stages of the citizenship procedure.

The statement said that in order to avoid unregulated delays at the time that applicants are being checked, the deadline for the procedure for conferring citizenship is suspended at the time of these checks.