The Bulgarian Program for Residency and Citizenship has new amendments as of Feb 16, 2021. Notable changes include new investment options and requirements, cancellation of the government bond investment, faster application processing, as well as updates to fast-track and dependent eligibility.
This new legislation was created in response to the recommendations made by the European Commission, with the goal to streamline and improve the framework across residency and citizenship by investment programs in Europe.
Updated Investment Requirements
- The government bond investment is no longer available
- 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
- BGN 1 million (€511,292) in collective investment schemes or alternative investment funds (minimum net asset value requirements apply in both cases) 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 (€511,292) investment in rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria
- BGN 2 million (€1,022,584) 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 (€3,069,053) investment in the capital of a non-publicly traded Bulgarian company
With the cancellation of the government bond investment option, financing of the new investment requirements is no longer possible.
Fast-Track Application Processing
The fast-track application processing remains in place, however, there are new requirements for the following investment options:
- Double the original investment or
- Invest at least 1 million Bulgarian levs 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
- Those who have opted to invest in a company and create jobs must increase their investment by at least 1 million Bulgarian levs and create 20 new jobs.
The legal requirements for the fast-track option remain the same:
- Applicants must have had permanent residency (PR) for at least one year to qualify to apply for citizenship (Art. 14a of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act);
- Once citizenship is granted, both investments would have to be maintained for a period of another 2 years (Art. 22, Para 1, Item 3 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act).
Streamlined Application Procedure
The application process is now streamlined in partnership with the InvestBulgaria Agency. The new procedure includes a pre-approval step in which investors will be screened at the beginning of the process and will have to provide a minimum set of documents to the Agency.
Investor applications for citizenship will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice separately from other categories, which is expected to further decrease processing times, which are already reduced.
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.
Applicants who invested under previous program requirements are still eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as the new legislative requirements are met. Their dependents will also be allowed to apply for citizenship after the main applicant attains Bulgarian citizenship.
The spouses of investors who have already been granted Bulgarian citizenship can apply after holding permanent residency for a continuous period of at least 3 years.
These recent amendments to the Bulgarian Program for Residency and Citizenship make it an even more compelling option for a second citizenship, particularly when paired with its existing key benefits: no physical residency requirement, no language requirement, an EU member state, and the lowest tax rate in the EU.
If you would like to learn additional details about the Bulgarian Investor Visa Program, or receive guidance on the updated investment process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.