Non-EU nationals and their families (spouse and children below 18) can apply for Permanent Residence in Bulgaria after five years uninterrupted residency in Bulgaria. Permanent residence permits are issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior. This entitles the person to the same rights as a Bulgarian citizen, except the right to vote.
Bulgaria offers permanent residency through investment of €511,292 (BGN 1 million) in government bonds. The government bond portfolio is for an investment period of at least five years. No further investment is required. The investor will receive annual interest and at the end of the five-year period, the full amount of BGN 1 million (€511,292) will be returned to the investor. The investment is fully guaranteed by the government bonds. They are usually seen as a low-risk safe investment. Evidence of source of funds might be required. The bonds are pledged by the government of Bulgaria and carry an investment credit rating of BBB by S&P and Baa2 by Moody’s. Since 1997 there is a currency board, established in Bulgaria and BGN is pledged to the Euro at the rate 1,95583. In exchange for a safe and state-guaranteed investment, applicants from all nationalities can obtain permanent residence with only 2 statutory visits to Bulgaria. The applicant will have to travel to apply for his Permanent Residence Permit, and later to apply and obtain his ID card.
The Applicant must not be an EU citizen. He must possess a valid passport or another foreign travel document and must have a clean criminal record.
Close family members of the investor are eligible to acquire permanent residence and obtain Bulgarian citizenship in several ways. The main applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 18 are eligible to become permanent residents after the main applicant is granted resident status. A main applicant’s spouse is only eligible if the spouses have been married for no less than five years at the time of application. Spouses and children of the applicant are eligible to acquire permanent residence. Though, they will not be granted citizenship at the same time as the applicant. To be eligible to apply the applicant must make a full investment option of at least BGN 1,000,000 (€512,000).
The applicant must apply for a permanent residence permit and ID card in Bulgaria. If eligible, the investor can apply for citizenship in Bulgaria or at a Bulgarian consulate abroad. Applicants are not required to be in Bulgaria during the whole process. However, when applying for a permanent residence permit and ID card the investor is required to be present in Bulgaria. There are a number of documents that have to be prepared and legalized including, but not limited to, criminal record certificate, marriage license, proof of funds, etc.
Step 1 – Application for the opening of a private account on the name of the Investor and buying government bonds for approx. 512,000 €.
The investment must be made in BGN and in the end of the process it shall be returned in BGN too.
This step includes preparation, signing and certifying of all necessary documents, incl. powers of attorney, to enable the proxy to represent the Investor before the various Bulgarian authorities during the application process – to conclude an agreement with Investment Intermediary in Bulgaria, to open an account on the name of Investor and to make the investment (i.e.: to purchase the Bulgarian State Bonds), etc.
Step 2 - Preparation of the set of Investor D visa application documents, confirmation certificate of investment in government bonds issued from the Intermediary/Bank and Investment certificate issued from the Bulgarian Investment Agency.
Step 3 – The Investor applies for a D visa in the relevant Bulgarian embassy or general consulate. The validity of the visa is 6 months after the date of issue. The applicant can enter the country when he or she wishes within this 6 months.
Step 4 – Applying for a permanent residence by investment. The applicant needs to visit Bulgaria to apply for permanent residence with the local Migration Office. The Company will assist in obtaining the Investor with the necessary address in Bulgaria.
Step 5 - Once the residence application is approved, the permanent residence card shall be issued. The Investor will have to visit Bulgaria for apply and to personally pick up the residency card and the address card (this has to be done within 180 days from the issue of the D-type visa). The permanent residence permit is valid for the same duration as the applicant's passport. The process of issuance of the residency card takes 3 week days.
Family reunification process can be started. Family members will obtain permanent residence in 3 months.
Step 6 – As a general rule, the applicant will have to wait (keep the Investment) for 5 years and after this period he can apply for the citizenship.
The processing time for the Applicant is currently 8-12 months, resulting in Permanent Residency status. Once the Principal Applicant’s process is completed, the family’s processing begins and lasts for a period of 6-8 months. All terms are indicative and depend on state authorities.