Bulgarian citizenship by Investment

In a significant shift in its investment immigration policy, Bulgaria has ceased its fast-track citizenship by investment program that primarily involved investing in government bonds. In its place, the country has introduced the so-called Bulgarian Golden Visa, an innovative pathway that centers around investment in Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).

The End of Bond Investment for Citizenship

The previous program offered a fast-track route to Bulgarian citizenship for foreign investors through significant investments in government bonds. This option provided a straightforward path to obtaining Bulgarian citizenship, attracting a considerable number of investors seeking a European passport. However, changes in policy priorities and a revaluation of investment strategies led to the cessation of this program.

Introduction of the Bulgarian Golden Visa

In response to the discontinuation of the bond investment program, Bulgaria has pivoted to a more contemporary approach with the introduction of the Golden Visa, facilitated by investments in AIFs. This new program is tailored to attract foreign capital in a way that aligns more closely with Bulgaria’s current economic and strategic interests.

Investment in Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

The Golden Visa program requires foreign investors to invest in Bulgarian-based AIFs. This investment not only opens the door to obtaining a Bulgarian residency permit but also aligns with the broader European Union regulatory framework for financial investments. AIFs offer a diverse range of investment opportunities, including but not limited to real estate, private equity, and venture capital, thereby providing investors with a variety of options to suit their investment strategies.

Impact and Future Prospects The shift from bond-based citizenship to the AIF-centered Golden Visa represents Bulgaria’s adaptability and responsiveness to global investment trends. It is expected to bring a fresh influx of foreign investment into the country, contributing to the growth and diversification of the Bulgarian economy. For investors, it offers a new avenue to gain residency in Bulgaria and, potentially, a path to citizenship, along with the benefits of investing in a dynamic and varied economic landscape.

Eligibility for the Bulgarian Golden Visa

The Bulgarian Golden Visa program is an attractive pathway for non-EU citizens aiming to relocate to the Schengen area. Applicants must fulfill certain criteria to qualify for this visa:

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.
  • A clean criminal record is mandatory.
  • Proof of the legitimate origin of the investment funds is required.

Investment Options for the Bulgarian Golden Visa

Bulgaria offers various investment options to cater to the diverse needs of investors. In 2021, significant changes were introduced, including the replacement of one of the investment avenues:

  • Investments in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) with a minimum value of 512,000 euros.

The ETF and AIF investments have replaced the former government bond purchase option. Under the new regulations, a fast-track citizenship by investment procedure is not available. However, there are service providers who actively promote that an investment of 1,024,000 euros, Bulgarian citizenship can be obtained in 18 months. It’s crucial to be wary of service providers or promoters who may lack complete competence in this area. For accurate information and assistance, seeking advice from well-established legal professionals is advisable.

 

Application Process for the Bulgarian Golden Visa

The Bulgarian Golden Visa process in 2024 stands out for its straightforward approach, notably devoid of interview or language prerequisites. The journey towards obtaining this visa commences with a due diligence check conducted by the Bulgarian Investment Agency, a step that significantly streamlines the process.

Due Diligence for the Bulgarian Golden Visa

The due diligence phase takes approximately 2 months, during which the applicant’s background is thoroughly assessed.

Pre-approval Documents

To obtain preliminary approval for investment under the Bulgarian Golden visa program, applicants have to submit:

  1. Copy of ID document
  2. Evidence of sufficient funds meeting or exceeding the minimum investment threshold
  3. Declaration of Anti-Money Laundering Compliance
  4. Declaration Regarding Politically Exposed Person Status
  5. Detailed information pertaining to employment, professional, and investment activities
  6. Criminal record certificate issued from the home country and country of permanent residence
  7. Certified Power of Attorney

 

Making the Investment

Upon receiving confirmation of pre-approval from the Bulgarian Investment Agency, applicants can proceed with an investment of 512,000 EUR in a Bulgarian-established and managed AIF. This investment can be made either remotely or in person in Bulgaria.

Obtaining the Golden Visa

The next step involves obtaining a D-visa from the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country.

Permanent Residency

Applicants are eligible to apply for a 5-year permanent residency card up to 2 months before the expiration of the D visa. The processing of permanent residency takes a few months. Once granted, applicants can initiate family reunification and secure permanent residency for their family members.

Family members of Bulgaria Golden visa holders

For family members looking to initiate the reunification process, the first step is to apply for a Family D visa through the nearest Bulgarian embassy or consulate in their home country.

Upon obtaining the Family D visa, the process to secure permanent residency for these family members typically takes an additional 2 months. This streamlined approach facilitates a more efficient and straightforward path for families to reunite and establish their lives in Bulgaria.

Our Legal Assistance

Our law firm in Bulgaria is fully prepared to guide you through the Golden Visa application process. With our expertise, we ensure a seamless and effective journey towards obtaining your Bulgarian Golden Visa and permanent residency, as well as assisting with the subsequent steps for your dependents.

All Bulgaria Golden Visa Investment Options

The Bulgarian Golden Visa, offering permanent residency, can be obtained through a variety of investment options. The most accessible and straightforward method is by investing in Bulgarian Alternative Investment Funds (AIF). The following are the investment options that can lead to permanent residency:

  1. Investment in Bulgarian Fund: Investing in shares or bonds worth no less than 1,000,000 BGN in AIF or ETFs.
  2. Investment in Bulgarian Commercial Companies: If you invest in shares or bonds of Bulgarian commercial companies traded on a regulated market or multilateral trading system in the Republic of Bulgaria, with a market value of not less than 2,000,000 BGN.
  3. Concession Agreement Rights: Acquiring rights under concession agreements in the Republic of Bulgaria, with a contract value of not less than 1,000,000 BGN.
  4. Investment in Non-Publicly Traded Companies: Investing in the capital of a Bulgarian company whose shares are not traded on a regulated market, with an amount of not less than 6,000,000 BGN.
  5. Priority Investment Projects: Contributing not less than 2,000,000 BGN to the capital of a Bulgarian company for a priority investment project, as certified under the Investment Promotion Act.
  6. Substantial Investment and Job Creation: Investing at least 500,000 BGN in the capital of a Bulgarian company as a partner or shareholder with named shares, owning at least 50 percent of the company’s capital. This investment should result in the acquisition of new long-term tangible and intangible assets worth not less than 500,000 BGN and the creation of at least 10 jobs for Bulgarian citizens.

Each of these investment avenues offers a unique pathway to obtaining the Bulgarian Golden Visa, catering to different investment strategies and objectives.

 

FAQ

What is the Bulgaria Golden Visa Program?2024-02-17T11:44:07+02:00

The Bulgaria Golden Visa Program is a residency-by-investment scheme that allows non-EU nationals to obtain a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria through investment, and potentially Bulgarian citizenship.

What are the investment options for the Bulgaria Golden Visa?2024-02-17T11:44:45+02:00

Investment options include purchasing shares or invest in the capital of Bulgarian based and Bulgarian managed AIFs and ETFs.

How much do I need to invest to qualify for the Bulgaria Golden Visa?2024-02-17T11:45:03+02:00

The investment threshold is €512,000.

Is the investment refundable?2024-02-17T11:45:34+02:00

The investment is completely refundable, including any interest accrued. The amount of interest earned is contingent on your risk tolerance. There are investment funds available that provide a higher return, but these come with increased risk levels.

How long does it take to obtain a residence card?2024-02-17T11:11:15+02:00

The processing duration for obtaining a permanent residency card can vary, but it is typically reasonable to anticipate that the card can be acquired within six months from the commencement of the investment process.

Do I need to live in Bulgaria to retain my Golden Visa?2024-02-17T11:46:23+02:00

To retain your Golden Visa status in Bulgaria, it is mandatory to visit the country at least once every year. The length of each visit is flexible, meaning that even a stay as brief as a single day is sufficient to fulfill this requirement.

Can my family also obtain residency?2024-02-17T11:46:40+02:00

Immediate family members (spouse and dependent children up to the age of 21) can also apply for residency. To process can be initiated straight after the main applicant was granted permanent residency.

Are there any language requirements?2024-02-17T11:46:53+02:00

For residency permits acquired through investment in Bulgarian Alternative Investment Funds (AIF), there are no language  requirements. However, language exam is mandatory for those seeking Bulgarian citizenship five years after receiving the Golden Visa. We offer assistance to our applicants in preparing for the language requirements or in navigating the process for a possible exemption.

Are there any nationality restrictions?2024-02-17T11:47:04+02:00

The program is open to individuals of all nationalities, as there are no restrictions based on nationality. However, certain limitations may arise during the pre-approval stage, where applicants are required to provide documentation verifying the origin of their investment funds and undergo background checks.

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