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Bulgaria Enhances Its Citizenship Program

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Amendments introduce new investment options and improved processing.
March 12, 2021 — Today, in the Bulgarian State Gazette, the recently voted bill on amending the legislation governing the country’s Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship was promulgated. Among the changes are new investment options and requirements, abolishment of the original government bond option, modified application procedure, and improved processing times.
The amendments are largely in response to the recommendations of the European Commission, which are aimed at streamlining and improving the framework of residency and citizenship by investment programs.
Updated investment requirements
The following investment options are now effective, where certain conditions may apply:
  • Investment of BGN 500,000 (€255,646) in the capital of a trading company under which tangible or intangible assets are acquired and 10 or more jobs for Bulgarians are created; the reason for maintaining the foreigner’s permit and the investment must be proven to the Ministry of Economy
  • BGN 1 million 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 investment in rights under concession contracts on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria
  • BGN 2 million 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 investment in the capital of a non-publicly traded Bulgarian company
The requirement to maintain the investment for a period of at least 5 years remains.
Modified fast-track option
Although the fast-track option remains for investors who have held the status of permanent resident for at least one year, it has been modified, where the following investment options are currently available:
  • Double the original investment under the same conditions as the original investment; or
  • Invest at least BGN 1 million 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 have increased their investment by at least BGN 1 million as a result of which at least 20 new jobs had been created.
Financing option
With the cancellation of the bond investment option, financing of the new investment requirements is no longer allowed. While the bond option was a passive, guaranteed investment, the new requirements reflect a higher risk profile.
New streamlined application procedure
The application procedure is now streamlined with a more prominent role by the InvestBulgaria Agency, including a new pre-approval step, where investors will be screened at the beginning of the process and will have to provide a minimum set of documents to the Agency.
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.
Furthermore, investor applications for citizenship will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice separately from other categories, which is expected to additionally improve processing times which are already reduced.
Amendment to dependents
The amendments also stipulate that spouses of investors who had been granted Bulgarian citizenship can apply after holding permanent residency for a continuous period of not less than 3 years.
Existing clients and current program deadline
Furthermore, it is important to note that permanent residency applications under the previous investment requirements can still be submitted before May 31, 2021.
Clients who invested under the previous program requirements will be allowed to apply for citizenship once the legislative conditions are met. Dependents will also be eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as the main applicant is granted Bulgarian citizenship.
Many promising projects and rising industries are changing the face of Bulgaria. And with the unrestricted right to live, work, and study anywhere in Europe, the right to own land in any EU country, and increased freedom of mobility — Bulgaria’s Investor Program for Residence and Citizenship offers a diverse and culturally rich lifestyle to investors and their families for generations to come.