Applying for Bulgarian Schengen Visas from a Third Country

April 2, 2024

Updated Guidelines for Non-EU Citizens Applying for Bulgarian Schengen Visas from a Third Country valid of April 2024

In light of the ongoing conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there have been significant changes to the process for non-EU citizens applying for a Bulgarian Schengen visa from a country other than their home nation. Previously, having a valid residency card in a country was sufficient to apply for a Bulgarian Schengen visa there. However, the new regulations require that such applicants must now obtain explicit permission from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, regardless of their residential status in that country.

Unfortunately, these permissions are typically granted on humanitarian grounds. This means that applications based solely on convenience, such as a Canadian citizen residing and working in Dubai wanting to apply from there, are unlikely to be approved without a compelling humanitarian reason.

Procedure for Applying for a Schengen Visa in a Non-Home Country

To apply for a Schengen visa from a country where you are not a citizen, you should follow these steps:

  1. Submit a Request: Applicants need to send a request to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at and include a CC to
  2. Language Requirement: The request should be composed in the Bulgarian language. If you are not fluent in Bulgarian, using a translation tool like Google Translate or another service is acceptable for drafting the request.
  3. Response Time: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs usually responds to such requests within a few days of receiving them.

It’s important to note that this altered process is specifically due to the current geopolitical situation and may be subject to further changes. Applicants are advised to stay informed about the latest visa regulations and procedures.

Understanding Humanitarian Grounds in Visa Applications

Humanitarian grounds in visa applications encompass situations where an individual seeks entry into a country to protect their basic rights, safety, or welfare. These grounds often include:

  • Seeking Refuge: For individuals escaping from areas affected by war or continuous armed conflicts.
  • Avoiding Persecution: For those looking to evade persecution related to race, religion, nationality, or other social or political factors.
  • Medical Reasons: In cases where crucial medical treatment unavailable in the applicant’s home country is required, or dependents cannot travel to home country due to illness.
  • Displacement by Natural Disasters: For people needing refuge from environmental disasters like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes.
  • Protection of Human Rights: When a person’s fundamental human rights are threatened in their home country, including severe discrimination or abuse.

Practical examples of humanitarian grounds approval include Taiwanese citizens choosing to apply in Tokyo instead of Beijing or Shanghai, or instances where an applicant, having received a residency card, has dependents with illnesses preventing them from traveling back to their home country for application, opting instead for a consulate closer to Sofia, such as in Nis, Serbia, or the embassy in Bucharest, Romania.

Alternate Route for Obtaining Family D Visas Outside Home Country

If your family members qualify for permanent residency but have not received permission from the Foreign Affairs, there’s an alternate approach available. Instead of directly applying for permanent residency, the main applicant can initiate the family reunification process through the local Migration Office on behalf of their family members. Once the family reunification is approved, the main applicant can specify the location where the family members will apply for their D visa, bypassing the need for Foreign Affairs’ permission. However, it’s important to note that under this method, family members will initially receive 12-month temporary residency cards instead of permanent residency. These temporary cards can subsequently be converted into permanent residency cards.

Exemption Criteria for Applying for a Bulgarian Golden Visa from a Third Country

Investors applying for the Bulgarian Golden Visa can expect a more favorable review, particularly when seeking permission to apply from a country other than their home country, due to their significant investment. However, it’s crucial to understand that applying as a Bulgarian Golden Visa candidate does not assure automatic approval for such requests. Every application for permission to apply from a third country is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

If you require assistance in your request to the Bulgarian Foreign Affairs, please contact us.

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