The Bulgarian government was going to revise the terms of the programme back in 2019. But then the Parliament did not accept the changes.
In December 2020, MPs returned to work on the amendments because of a warning from the European Commission. It believes that citizenship investment programmes violate EU law.
The Bulgarian government will not close the programme but will change its conditions in line with the European Commission’s recommendations.
At the end of February 2021, the Bulgarian National Assembly approved the new conditions of the program. They are enshrined in amendments to the Foreigners Act.
New programme conditions for investors
The government has set out the investment options and the length of time that a participant in the programme must hold them. It also lists the conditions under which an investor is eligible to apply for citizenship. But first, it is compulsory to obtain a permanent residence permit.
Investment options offer investors to invest money in local businesses, the restoration of state-owned real estate, and the purchase of units in investment funds in the country. All investments under the program are repayable.
|Investment option||Minimum investment amount|
|Investment in a Bulgarian company if the investor holds shares of the company and owns 50% or more of its capital|| From BGN 500,000, |
or from € 255,000
+ 10 new jobs
|Purchase of units and shares in collective or alternative investment funds|| From BGN 1 million, |
or from € 511,000
|Acquisition of rights under concession agreements|| From BGN 1 million, |
or from € 511,000
|Buying shares of Bulgarian commercial companies|| From BGN 2 million, |
or from €1 million
|Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company to implement a priority investment project|| From BGN 2 million, |
or from €1 million
|Increase the capital of a Bulgarian company whose shares are not traded on the securities market|| From BGN 6 million, |
or from €3 million
Mandatory Permanent Residence Permit. An investor first gets a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria. After five years he gets the right to apply for citizenship.
The investor has to meet several conditions. Namely:
The law does not specify what the annual or monthly income of an investor must be to qualify for citizenship.
Participation of family members. Spouse and minor children can obtain a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria together with the investor. They also apply for citizenship under the simplified procedure:
- children – immediately after the investor becomes a Bulgarian citizen;
- spouse – 3 years after obtaining a permanent residence permit and after the investor becomes a Bulgarian citizen.
Other conditions. The investor does not have to prove that he knows the Bulgarian language at any level. There is no requirement for permanent residence in the country. But the investor comes to Bulgaria at least three times to:
Obtain a Permanent Residence Permit from the Directorate of Migration at the Ministry of Interior;
Apply for citizenship at the Ministry of Justice office;
Obtain a naturalization certificate and obtain an ID-card
The accelerated procedure allows applying for citizenship one year after obtaining a permanent residence permit. The procedure is valid if the investor has invested BGN 500,000 or more in a Bulgarian company in which he owns at least 50% of the capital. In order to take advantage of the accelerated citizenship application procedure, the investor needs to double the investment in a year: increase its amount to BGN 1 million and create 20 jobs.
Benefits of the Bulgarian citizenship programme
Bulgarian citizens travel visa-free to 169 countries, including Schengen, Canada and Australia. With the country’s passport, it is allowed to live, work and study in any EU country without restrictions.
Bulgaria’s citizenship programme is not in demand among investors, despite the opportunities for free travel and life in the European Union. During the eight years of the programme, around 100 investors received passports.
The unpopularity of the Bulgarian programme lies in its high cost compared to other programmes and the long waiting period for a passport. Malta, for example, gives the opportunity to obtain citizenship on the basis of investment of 690 000 €. The waiting period is from one year, not five years as in Bulgaria.
How to obtain EU citizenship by investment
It is possible to become an EU citizen through naturalisation. To do this, you have to live in the country permanently. And there is always a waiting list of applications at the migration services, so the wait may be longer than the law prescribes.
Some countries make the naturalisation process quicker and simpler. They offer investors to first obtain a residence permit by investment through a government programme.
Maltese citizenship is granted for exceptional merit on the basis of direct investment. The investor first obtains a residence permit and after a year or three years apply for citizenship. If the due diligence check is passed, the investor invests from €690,000 in the social and economic development of Malta and becomes a Maltese citizen after three years
In Portugal, a residence permit can be obtained by an investment from €250,000. To remain a resident, an investor needs to spend only 7 days a year in the country. Five years after obtaining a residence permit, it is possible to apply for citizenship. In order to obtain a passport, the resident demonstrates a conversational knowledge of the Portuguese language.
A residence permit in Greece by investment from €250,000 allows the participant to apply for citizenship after 7 years and not after 12 years as with standard naturalisation. But it is allowed to live outside Greece for a maximum of 10 months in the last 5 years before applying for citizenship. The candidate also passes a Greek language test.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent that helps you obtain citizenship or residence permit by investment. If you wish to become a citizen or resident of an EU country, seek advice from experts in investment programmes.