Parliament Changes Rules on Bulgarian Citizenship Acquisition by Foreign Investors

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Bulgarian passports and citizenship

February 26 (BTA) – Bulgaria’s Parliament Friday passed conclusively amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, revising the rules under which foreign investors can acquire Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization and streamlining the arrangements for granting such citizenship to persons of Bulgarian descent.

Persons who are not Bulgarian citizens but fulfil the conditions may acquire Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization if they have doubled their investment under the same legal terms or if they have invested at least 1 million leva in the form of an additional contribution to the capital of a Bulgarian company for a priority investment project which is being implemented by that company and is certified according to the procedure established by the Investment Promotion Act.

The same rule applies to foreigners who have been holding a continuous Bulgarian residence permit for at least a year and have increased their investment under the same legal terms to not less than 1 million leva and the investment has resulted in the creation of not fewer than 20 new jobs for Bulgarian citizens.

So far, foreigners qualified for Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization if they were continuous residents in the country for at least a year and have increased their investment under the same legal terms to not less than 2 million leva or have invested not less than 1 million leva in the capital of a Bulgarian company for an investment project which has been implemented by that company and which is certified under the Promotion Investment Act.

A continuous residence permit may be granted to foreigners who hold a start-up visa and a high-tech and/or innovative project certificate issued by the State Agency for Scientific Research and Innovations and who have become partners or shareholders in a Bulgarian company after obtaining a long-stay visa and own at least 50 per cent of its capital.

Applicants for Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization must accompany their application by official documents issued by Bulgarian or foreign authorities by which the applicants certify that they are in a family relationship with at least one relative in the ascending line up to the third degree inclusive of Bulgarian descent, Parliament resolved.

When facts and circumstances related to the documents presented with the application need to be clarified, the Justice Minister may require the applicant to submit additional documents within 14 days of the notification or assign the Advisory Board with the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, which was established by Friday’s amendments, to ascertain whether the applicant is of Bulgarian descent.

The Advisory Board will give a reasoned favourable or negative opinion on citizenship applications within two months of being assigned to do so, taking into account whether the applicants have a working knowledge of Bulgarian, whether they identify themselves as persons of Bulgarian descent, and whether they are part of a Bulgarian community or Bulgarian minority in another State, whether they originate from a settlement that was part of the Bulgarian State or of the Bulgarian Exarchate in the past, etc.

The State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad will establish and keep an electronic register with particulars of the persons whose Bulgarian descent has been ascertained by the Advisory Board. The register must be established within three months of the entry into force of the amendments.