Your questions about the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment

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Your future matters to us

After the demise of the Cyprus citizenship by investment program, a lot of customers suddenly realized that nothing lasts forever. Especially those who thought that money is King and EU investment citizenship will stay there forever, are now coming out of the woodwork.

last train for EU citizenship

They all wave their hard earned money with the hope to catch the last train for the EU. But now that the Cypriot train derailed, the Bulgarian old steam beast suddenly became the life ring for many. For how long will the Bulgarian CBI program operate at its current conditions is still to be seen. The price of the tickets to board on it however, went through the roof already. Money is not the King in the world of EU investment citizenship anymore. Time is.

Your today’s question about the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program

Here is a question from a valued client that we have received today:

When is my application considered to have started (i.e. if the program is canceled, or changed) when am I considered to have started under the current rules and can continue under the current rules/program? Is it now that I have submitted my Type D (Investment Visa) or only once we have submitted the Permanent Residency application?

Under the shadow of the Cypriot decision to “stick to its European values rather than to its financial benefits”, this question is quite logical. Let’s dig into it.

The Bulgarian CIP – two staged process

The Bulgarian citizenship by investment program is a two-staged process. The procedures are governed by the Bulgarian Law for the foreigners in Bulgaria and the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship.

Law for the foreigners in Bulgaria

The first stage is obtaining legal status and residence permit in Bulgaria, after investing an amount of 1 000 000 BGN. This stage is governed by the Law for the foreigners in Bulgaria. The law foresees that after the investment is done, the applicant is immediately eligible for permanent residence status.

There have been no plans to amend this sections of the Law by the Bulgarian authorities.

Law for the Bulgarian citizenship

The second stage of the program can be started in 12 months after the candidate has obtained permanent residence status. Then, the applicant has two choices. The first choice is to invest additionally 1 000 000 BGN and apply for Bulgarian citizenship immediately. This is the so called “fast-track” option. The other choice, or the “semi-fast-track”, provides the possibility for the candidate to apply for citizenship in four years time (or five years total after permanent residence status has been granted) without any additional investment. These stages (both the fast and semi-fast tracks) are governed by another Law, namely the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship.

The plans of the Bulgarian authorities to amend the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship

The rumors to amend the Bulgarian CIP and to even cancel it altogether are circulating for about three years already. So far, nothing significantly has been changed apart from that, that the state authorities are now requiring ultra legal compliance from all applicants. Some things that were possible one year ago are now a “no-go” (for example using an outdated or shared address facility in Bulgaria, etc.).

answer to citizenship question

So when is the application considered to have started for the Bulgarian CBI candidate (the question of our client)

First of all, the answer to this question can be only hypothetical, as the Bulgarian CIP is up and running. Therefore, there are no legal references in the Bulgarian legislation as to the “start of the program”. If (and we stress on the “If”) the program is amended, it may well make reference to the “start of the program”. However, such references may be worded in specific way, which is still to be seen.

From the perspective of the current legal realms, we consider that the “start of the application” is the moment when it becomes absolutely evident that the candidate will apply for Bulgarian citizenship by investment. Please note, it must be evident that the candidate will apply, not that he has the intention to apply.

Our legal team has divided opinion on when this moment exactly is.

The first approach is to consider that the start of the application is when the applicant submits his documents for visa D (with all supporting documents of having made the investment of one million Bulgarian leva or more). This is true for as far as this clearly shows the intention of the foreigner to obtain permanent residence by investment. Such status may lead to right for citizenship by investment, either after an additional investment, or after 5 years of residency. While the additional investment option (fast -track) is uncertain (the candidate has to take action to do it), the semi-fast-track option after five years is automatic. In other words, it may be deemed that the applicant not only has the intention to apply, but that he will apply for citizenship. This is, because he has to only maintain his investment (the semi-fast-track option), which is considered a “passive behavior”.

From the practice of the Bulgarian Supreme Court we believe this may be the preferred definition of the “start of the application”. There are some judges however, who may argue that the semi-fast-track option is not automatic, as the candidate has to maintain his investment during the five years term before he can apply for citizenship. The core of the problem is to whether it will be accepted that at the moment of applying for visa D, the applicant has already demonstrated his irrevocable intention to obtain Bulgarian citizenship, as he has already invested one million Lev. Or alternatively, it will be deemed that such intention will become irrevocable only after a second investment is made or if the initial investment is maintained for five years before the application.

The more conservative approach would deem that the start of the citizenship application is only when the client submits his documents for Bulgarian citizenship, after being permanent resident in Bulgaria for one or five years. Only at that moment it will be guaranteed, that the intention of the foreigner has been to apply for citizenship rather than for residency.

Our legal expertise

We are working closely with the authorities in order to assist them in processing the citizenship applications according to the latest legal norms and the relevant EU directives. We are happy to announce our recent achievement in solving the problems with the huge delays for interviews for Bulgarian citizenship.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

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