Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment - 2021 Updated Guide
Bulgaria Citizenship by InvestmentUpdated on Tuesday 03rd August 2021
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Foreign entrepreneurs who are able to make a minimum investment in Bulgaria can obtain permanent residence permits and, in time, acquire citizenship. There are several manners in which this option is possible and the key is the type of investment, in real estate or otherwise, the entrepreneur is willing to make.
Understanding the investment legislation is a key step to applying for citizenship by investment. Moreover, a foreign entrepreneur who is willing to access the option will not only need to make the investment as directed but also observe the other requirements for submitting the relevant documents for obtaining the residence permit. In time, those who reside in Bulgaria for a minimum number of years can apply for citizenship.
Our team of lawyers in Bulgaria outlines some of the most important options for obtaining permanent residence through investment. For more detailed information, as well as details according to nationality, please do not hesitate to reach out to our specialists.
Who can apply for Bulgarian citizenship by investment in 2021?
Bulgaria has followed the direction of most EU countries seeking to increase their economy with the help of foreign investors and which found that the citizenship by investment program is one of the most profitable, as it was created for non-EU citizens who want to immigrate to Europe, and in most cases, into a country of the European Union block.
The Bulgaria citizenship by investment scheme, which is also known as the golden visa targets, or better said, is intended has a helping hand to citizens with ordinary domicile in non-EU countries who have the financial means to make an important capital injection in Bulgaria’s economy in exchange of many and various benefits.
If you are attracted by the idea of applying for a golden visa in this country in 2021, one of our lawyers in Bulgaria can offer information on the conditions and benefits of obtaining it.
Conditions to be met by Bulgaria citizenship by investment applicants
Before starting the immigration procedure, or the visa application process, an applicant must make sure he or she meets additional requirements apart from the financial ones. These usually refer to:
- being at least 18 years old at the time of the application,
- having a valid passport (the minimum validity period is 6 months),
- having health insurance in accordance with EU requirements,
- having a clean criminal record,
- making sure the source of the funds is legitimate (proof must be provided in this sense).
Once these requirements are met, the applicant can proceed to the visa application procedure. The person can also rely on our immigration lawyers in Bulgaria for assistance in preparing the relocation documents under the Golden Visa program.
Residence by investment options in Bulgaria in 2021
The first step for a foreign national who is interested in obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment in 2021 is to apply for a permanent residence permit based on the chosen type of investment. Individuals can choose between passive investments, acquiring real estate in the country, or engaging in certain entrepreneurial options. Irrespective of the chosen path, it is important to note that the investment is subject to certain minimum conditions and this is why it is advisable to seek professional legal aid, like that provided by our team of attorneys in Bulgaria, in order to make sure that your proposed investment is accepted.
The investment options are listed below:
- Government bonds: in this case the minimum investment value is of 511,292 euros and a statutory holding period is applicable;
- Greenfield projects: with a minimum investment value of 125,000 euros or acquire at least 50% of the capital in a Bulgarian company that operates in an underdeveloped region; one of our lawyers in Bulgaria can provide more details on this requirement regarding the region;
- Open a company: invest 250,000 euros in a new Bulgarian company or acquire at least 50% in an existing company; a requirement is for the said company to create 10 job positions;
- Invest in an existing company: foreign investors can also invest at least 3,000,000 euro in the share capital of a private Bulgarian company;
- Invest in real estate: the minimum investment in a property in Bulgaria must be of 300,000 euros; an alternative is to use the same amount to acquire at least 50% of a Bulgarian company and then use the company to purchase real estate.
Foreign investors can also obtain permanent residence in Bulgaria if they invest in a Priority Investment Project, as it is defined in the Investment Promotion Act. If you are interested in more details about this Act you can reach out to the experts at our law firm in Bulgaria.
Please keep in mind that this is only a brief description. These requirements may be subject to changes.
Acquiring residence and citizenship in Bulgaria
For 2021, the main steps to obtain permanent residence in Bulgaria under the investment scheme are described below by our lawyers in Bulgaria:
- choose the investment option: foreign entrepreneurs start by choosing and making the investment that is the most convenient to them; it is important to note that proof of investment must exist before the visa application;
- apply for the visa type D: this is the visa type that allows for permanent residence and it is applied for with the Embassy or Consulate in the investor’s country of origin;
- apply for residence: once the visa is approved, the investor can travel to Bulgaria and submit the residence application;
- collect the permit: the permanent residence permit is issued by the Migration Directorate, belonging to the Ministry of Interior.
Once all of these steps are complete, the permit holder can apply for a Bulgarian ID and will need to observe the requirements for the renewal of his residence for which our attorneys in Bulgaria can provide more details.
Citizenship by investment can be acquired once the investor has lived in the country uninterruptedly for five years (observing the requirements for residence permit renewal during this time). Other conditions are applicable, such as to have never been sentenced by a Bulgarian court.
If you are interested in other programs associated with obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment in 2021, our lawyers can prvoide updated information. We can also keep you informed on any changes that may occur in the program.
Differences between Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment scheme and those of other countries
Bulgaria’s program is newer compared to the schemes created by other countries, which is why it comes with important changes especially when it comes to investment options.
Two of the options available under the Bulgaria citizenship by investment program are related to fiduciary and intellectual property contributions. In other words, an applicant can purchase intellectual property rights or stocks and shares in companies listed on the Stock Exchange in Sofia.
Another important option which resembles that of the USA’s Golden Visa Scheme (EB-5 Investor Visa) is the investment in Certified Priority Investment Projects (CPIPs).
If you are interested in one of these investment options, our lawyers in Bulgaria can offer all the information related to them.
Timeframe for obtaining citizenship by investment in Bulgaria
At the moment, the Bulgaria citizenship by investment program is one of the most advanced in Europe and the EU in terms of how fast permanent residence and Bulgarian passports can be obtained.
In terms of permanent residence, it is available within 3 to 6 months after making the investment. When it comes to citizenship, there are two procedures:
- the fast-track procedure through which citizenship can be obtained in 2 years,
- the standard procedure through citizenship is available after 6 years.
A condition of this program is for the investment to be maintained at least 5 years. The 2021 citizneship by investment program in Bulgaria is one of the most advantageous, considering that recenlty Cyprus has decided to terminate a similar scheme.
Bringing family members to Bulgaria under the Golden Visa scheme
Golden visa holders can bring family members to Bulgaria any time. In the case of spouses and minor children, these can relocate here under the same application of the main investor. However, when it comes to citizenship, these will be entitled to Bulgarian passports after the main applicant has obtained citizenship.
In the case of the applicant’s spouse, permanent residence is also available after the investor has obtained his/her permanent residence card. An important condition related to obtaining citizenship by investment as a spouse is for the marriage to be legally recognized in Bulgaria.
In the case of children, these can obtain their permanent resident statuses after the main applicant has obtained his/hers, while citizenship is available for them after they have turned 18 years old.
New conditions for those interested Bulgaria’s citizenship by investment scheme
In the past few years, the European Union has requested countries that had citizenship by investment programs to either terminate or change the conditions under which these schemes were developed. While some countries decide to end their programs, Bulgaria has amended its scheme which is why starting with March 2021, the government offers new investment options, however, it has also implemented new requirements.
There are 6 options available for those interested in moving to Bulgaria through citizenship by investment. These can now invest at least 500,000 BGN or the equivalent which is approximately 255,000 euros.
In order to make a comparison with the previous conditions, here are the new ones:
- an investment in a Bulgarian company under specific conditions;
- the purchase of units in investment funds;
- the purchase of rights based on concession contracts;
- the purchase of shares in Bulgarian companies;
- the participation in the increase of the capital of a Bulgarian company by contributing to the implementation of a new project;
- the participation to the share capital of a privately- held Bulgarian company.
As you can see, most of the new options target business investment.
Our law firm in Bulgaria is at your service if you decide to apply for this scheme and need assistance in meeting the current requirements.
Creating a new company as part of the Bulgarian citizenship by investment scheme
One of the most appreciated pathways of moving to Bulgaria and obtaining citizenship has always been the incorporation of a business. This option is now available under this program, provided that the following requirements are met:
- the new owner must hold at least 50% of the share capital in the company;
- he or she must create at least 10 new jobs;
- the minimum amount to inject in the company is 500,000 BGN or 255,000 euros.
The program is quite appealing when compared to other European countries in terms of capital required to inject.
The purchase of shares in commercial companies is also an option for those who do want to create new businesses in Bulgaria. In this case, the minimum amount to invest is 2 million BGN or 1 million euros.
Another option is to buy units in approved collective or alternative investment funds. The minimum amount to invest in this case is 1 million BNG or 511,000 euros.
Our lawyers can help you determine the best way of moving to Bulgaria and applying for citizenship by investment under the new conditions.
Concession agreements – a new investment option
The novelty of the Bulgarian citizenship by investment scheme is the possibility of acquiring rights under concession agreements. The minimum amount to invest is 1 million BGN or 511, 000 euros, just like in the case of the purchase of units in investment funds.
Our Bulgarian lawyers can provide more information on this new option. You can also rely on us if you decide for another option when applying for a Bulgarian passport.
Company capital increase for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment
One of the options available for those who want to immigrate to Bulgaria and obtain citizenship by investment is the participation in the increase of the share capital of private companies.
An applicant can choose to invest in a new project developed by a Bulgarian company by injecting at least 1 million euros, however, one can also invest at least 3 million euros (6 million BGN) in the increase of a private company.
As a request of the European Union, Bulgaria has amended its program so that the conditions make a distinction between genuine investors willing to maintain their investments for at least 5 years. This is why they will first obtain a residence permit and only after the 5 years will they be allowed to apply for citizenship.
There is also an expedited citizenship by investment procedure which implies for the applicant to double the investment in a new project developed by a Bulgarian company. This process implies injecting at least 1 million BGN (511,000 euros) and the creation of at least 20 jobs.
The main advantage of relocating to Bulgaria and applying for citizenship by investment under these new conditions is that the spouse of the main applicant can apply for citizenship after one year since the investor has obtained his or her Bulgarian passport. Children remain eligible for citizenship after 6 months since the parent making the investment has obtained Bulgarian citizenship.
Bulgaria was one of the first countries to adjust its programs to the new EU requirements which is what makes this country a safe destination for those willing to relocate here from outside the EU.
Why choose the Bulgarian citizenship by investment scheme in 2021
The Bulgaria citizenship by investment program comes with several advantages for those who succeed to relocate here. Among these:
- dual citizenship is available for the main applicants and the dependents,
- applicants have the right to free travel all over the EU, as well as to EU residency,
- they can also travel under the Electronic Visa System to 169 countries around the world, including to Canada,
- they can even qualify for USA’s E-2 Visa which requires a small investment.
If you wish to know more about the investment options for acquiring citizenship in Bulgaria, please reach out to the experts at our law firm in Bulgaria.