EUROPEAN NATIONALITY AND PASSPORT - THE ULTIMATE GOAL
So probably, the most important question one is asking himself is "How do I get Bulgarian citizenship?", or "How do I obtain EU passport and citizenship?". And of course, "What are my advantages if I am holding Bulgarian (EU) passport?". We will try to shed some light on these topics below:
THE GENERAL NATURALIZATION ROUTE - OBTAINING CITIZENSHIP THROUGH RESIDENCY
In general, the topic of receiving Bulgarian citizenship is covered in the "Law for Bulgarian citizenship" and the relevant acts of "The Law for foreigners in Republic of Bulgaria". Unless you have been born in Bulgaria or one of your parents is Bulgarian (please read more below), you will need to apply for naturalization. Naturalization is the process of giving EU citizenship to a person who doesn't otherwise fulfill the requirements for being citizen by birth or by origin. The most common requirement is that the applicant needs to prove that he has been legal permanent resident in Bulgaria during the last 5 years. This is the main condition and it is therefore extremely important for you to have all your immigration documents correctly issued so you can prove your residency status. Please read our section on residency and contact us with any questions you might have in this regard. On top of that, the applicant has to be able to prove that he speaks Bulgarian, which is done by means of comprehensive Bulgarian language exam, that he has no criminal convictions, that he has qualifying occupation that allows him to support himself financially, etc. The 5 year term can be reduced to 3 years in some cases, such as, if the applicant has been minor when he has applied first for his residence permit. There are also other cases when the 5 year term can be legitimately reduced.
In general, the applicant for Bulgarian citizenship through naturalization has to surrender his existing (previous) citizenship. This is not the case if the applicant is a spouse of Bulgarian citizen, has EU nationality or is from a country with which Bulgaria has signed agreement allowing dual citizenship.
OBTAINING BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP THROUGH INVESTMENT (THE FAST-TRACK NATURALIZATION OPTION)
Worth mentioning are the exemptions for citizenship through investment where the period of legal residency required is reduced to only 1 year. The latest legislative amendments of 24.03.2015 are clearly defining this process and are hence protecting both the interests of the Bulgarian state as well as the naturalization applicant. Please read more about the Investment Immigration Program.
We have organized a dedicated legal wing to deal exclusively with applications for citizenship by investment and to provide personalized VIP services to high net worth individuals from around the world. An investment of at least one million EUR is required in order to meet the requirements of the current Bulgarian naturalization legislation.
BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH
Each person who is born in Bulgaria is considered to be Bulgarian citizen by birth. However, there is a very important condition attached – that is, that the person doesn’t get another citizenship by origin.
Let’s give you some examples. If a Russian family living in Bulgaria gives birth to a baby, although the baby is born in Bulgaria, it will be not considered Bulgarian citizen by birth, because it will be getting Russian citizenship by origin. If a stateless woman however, gives birth to a baby in Bulgaria, then it will be considered Bulgarian citizen by birth. There are of course much more complicated scenarios. For example, a baby with unknown parents, found in Bulgaria, will be also considered to be Bulgarian citizen.
BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY ORIGIN
The rule is very simple and straightforward – Bulgarian citizen by origin is everybody who has at least one parent who is Bulgarian citizen himself. Additionally, Bulgarian citizen is also everyone whose Bulgarian descent has been confirmed by a court order. The latter option is utilized mainly by ethnic Bulgarians living in the territories of Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, etc.
CITIZENSHIP FOR SPECIAL MERITS
The most exotic option to obtain lightening fast citizenship in Bulgaria is foreseen in art.16 of the "Law for Bulgarian citizenship". The article foresees that citizenship is granted to persons with special merits in front of the Bulgarian state in the field of social and economics, science, technology, culture and sport. This opportunity is reserved only for the most prominent foreigners who have proven track record and posses qualifications beyond the ordinary.
If you believe you can qualify under this program, please contact us for consultation in order to determine your real chances and the feasibility of the procedure.
Recently a large number of football players, mainly from Brazil, took advantage of this option and could obtain Bulgarian citizenship (Jonathan Cafu from football club Ludogorets being a prime example).
THE ADVANTAGES OF HAVING BULGARIAN AND EU NATIONALITY
Becoming EU (Bulgarian) citizen is a complicated process. It requires patience and administrative compliance. The applicant has to understand that there should be no dubious shortcuts - EU laws are quite clear on the matter and legal compliance is our company's paramount. We firmly believe that the applicant should, together with our advisors, decide on the most appropriate legal strategy and after being informed of all possible options, he or she has to make a very well informed decision on how to proceed further.
So you have decided to go ahead and become EU citizen in the not so distant future. Then your first goal, in most cases, will be your legal EU (Bulgarian) residency. After that being arranged and the legal period of residence being met, you will be guided with the citizenship formalities and application in order to be naturalized and get your first ever EU passport. At that point you will definitely realize that all that effort has not been without a good reason. Because EU citizenship brings with itself the European values, freedom to travel and reside in any EU member state, work in all 28 EU countries without any formalities, counting on consular support in all EU embassies worldwide (where no Bulgarian embassy or consulate is present), take part in the EU social security system and much, much more. On top of that, having your EU passport will guarantee you almost worldwide visa free travel as the European Union is constantly expanding its visa free agreements with third countries. Travelling on EU passport will guarantee you additional respect and fast track processing in most countries worldwide.
If you have decided that EU citizenship is your goal, that you want the freedom and EU values that come along, then get in touch with us and our advisors will act to assist you in applying for your legal residency (in case you are not living in Bulgaria already).Then, when the legal conditions are being met, you will obtain your Bulgarian (EU) citizenship. This is the ultimate step in the immigration process and with it, you will become EU national. EU citizenship, conferred automatically on any EU national, brings with it a huge number of important rights.
So, what is EU citizenship and what does it mean to you?
- Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is for each EU country to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country;
- Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU;
- Move and reside freely within the EU;
- Vote for and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections;
- Be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other EU country;
- Petition the European Parliament and complain to the European Ombudsman;
The Lisbon Treaty introduced a new form of public participation for European citizens, the Citizens' Initiative. This allows one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of EU countries to call directly on the European Commission to bring forward an initiative of interest to them within the framework of its powers.
With the receipt of your EU passport, you will benefit from almost worldwide visa free travel and recognition. You will no longer fight the long cues to receive your visa for your next business or leisure trip. You will belong to the European family and it values - this is not simply a new passport, this is a very new life. Please check our services for more details on how we can assist you in obtaining your citizenship.
A word of caution:
In general, as discussed above, Bulgarian (EU) citizenship is acquired automatically through birth, origin or if you have lived in the EU country (Bulgaria) certain period of time. It is essential to understand, that immigration laws are complicated and there is no such thing as automatic procedure, internet application or instant approval. There are many unscrupulous websites and agents who will try to promise you the world, unfortunately without any backing or even without having the slightest relation with the reality. We have seen many applicants being deprived not only from their hard earned money, but also from any chance for successful application after they have made the wrong choice of immigration advisor. Many subjective factors exist and all these factors, considered as a whole will determine how easy or indeed, how difficult your citizenship application will be processed and eventually approved.