Rasheed Alkhanji QICMS
Published 12:46 PM 6 October 2021
Updated 12:33 PM 27 December 2021
Strategically located between Western and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria has straight connections to the EU and Russia, making it a ideal country to do business with either spheres.
The Bulgarian Citizenship Investor Program is a gorgeous program for foreign investors and wealthy individuals to enjoy visa-free access or visa-on-arrival access to 160 countries and territories including the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, the British Virgin Islands, Japan and the entire European Union. As a resident in Bulgaria, you may also apply for the USA E2 visa, which allows you to live and work in the US.
In fact Bulgaria’s citizenship program is a hybrid residence-to-citizenship program (also known as golden visa), offering foreign investors the opportunity to first get a permanent residence permit (Bulgarian PR), followed by becoming a Bulgarian citizen in 24 months. Provided that an investment is made of course, you and your family members can live, work, and study in a European country, with visa free access to the entire EU.
While there are many citizenship investment programs out there, Bulgaria is definitely one of the best programs. Since the program isn’t widely marketed, it makes it all the more special to apply for permanent residency.
QICMS wishes to grant all interested investors with the needed information so they can be certain that choosing Bulgaria’s Citizenship by Investment Program will be the finest option for them. Below is a compilation of clients’ FAQs and our answers to them.
WHAT IS BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT?
Established by the citizenship act, Bulgarian citizenship by investment (Immigrant Investor Program in Bulgaria) is a program that grants eligible investors and their families with residency in the country, followed by Bulgarian citizenship, provided that an investment is made in the nation first.
WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR APPLYING TO THE CIP PROGRAM IN BULGARIA?
To attain citizenship, anyone who isn’t already a citizen of the EEA and who is at least 18 years old is eligible. However, there are a few additional eligibility criteria, for example, you must have a clean criminal record and not considered a threat to national security, and have a good financial standing so you can invest a minimum of EUR 512,000.You have to also be willing to hold your investment for few years.
IS BULGARIA A RESIDENCY BY INVESTMENT OR CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM?
It may seem like a sneaky reply, but Bulgaria is in reality a hybrid between a golden visa and citizenship program. In principle you become a permanent resident first, but are qualified to attain Bulgarian citizenship via the fast-track path in two years time, or alternatively, five years time.
WHAT’S THE MINIMUM INVESTMENT REQUIRED FOR BULGARIA CITIZENSHIP?
You must make a minimum investment of EUR 512,000 to get permanent residence. If you’re after Bulgarian citizenship in two years time, the investment amount doubles.
DO I HAVE TO TRAVEL TO BULGARIA TO APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE AS PART OF THE PROCESS?
Yes, you will need to make at least one trip or maximum two trips to Bulgaria to submit your biometric information, apply for permanent residence permit and obtain a resident’s ID. At the same time, you will also be issued with a personal tax number. All other applications can be filed outside Bulgaria.
DID THE BULGARIA CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM RECENTLY CHANGE?
Yes, as a matter of fact, to avoid European Commission criticism, Bulgaria made some key changes to its program in March 2021, scrapping the majority of its investment options and replacing it with six new investment options.
WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT IN 2021?
Bond investment cancelled – Citizenship applications filed on the bond investment will not be affected. Applicants who previously hold a permanent residency status will be still permitted to enjoy the ordinary track. The fast-track on bonds is no longer supported.
New investment alternatives ETFs and AIFs – Exchange Traded Funds and Alternative Investment Funds are the new choices to invest towards the Bulgarian citizenship by investment.
Shorter path for spouse to get Bulgarian citizenship – Spouse can apply for Bulgarian citizenship 3 years after the investor was granted Bulgarian citizenship. This is 2 years shorter compared to the old Citizenship Act.
Faster Processing time – The legislators have also mandated expedited timelines for processing time. Whether these will be closely kept will be a matter of practice and as such to be seen.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE STANDARD TRACK APPLICATION AND THE FAST TRACK APPLICATION?
At the highest level, there are two differences – Time frame and amount of investment.
WHAT IS THE FAST TRACK BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP AND PASSPORT BY INVESTMENT?
The applicant needs to invest in ETFs and AIFs of EUR 512,000 in the first year and increases (double) the investment to EUR 1,024.000 in the second year using savings or own finances.
Time to Bulgarian Permanent Residency – 6 months
Time to Bulgarian Citizenship – 24 months
Investment in EUR (Fully refundable) – EUR 1,024,000
Time to maintain the Investment – 48 months
WHAT IS THE STANDARD (ORDINARY) TRACK BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP AND PASSPORT BY INVESTMENT?
The applicant purchases ETFs and AIFs of EUR 512,000 ;
Time to Bulgarian Permanent Residency – 6 months;
Time to Bulgarian Citizenship – 66 months ;
Investment in EUR (Refundable) – EUR 512,000
Time to maintain the Investment – 78 months
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM?
The applicant is NOT required to open an account with a Bulgarian bank or brokerage firm to buy Bulgarian ETFs and AIFs. She/he can buy ETFs ad AIFs fully remotely and paperless with most international licensed brokerage firms.
The applicant is NOT required to live and work in Bulgaria to apply for Bulgarian citizenship;
The applicant is NOT required to be fluent in Bulgarian as required by the general naturalization rules;
The applicant is NOT required to revoke her/his original citizenship;
EU citizens may also apply for Bulgarian citizenship by investment if they hold a passport of a non-EU member country.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS OF OBTAINING BULGARIAN PASSPORT BY INVESTMENT
The applicant will easily qualify as a Bulgarian tax resident;
The applicant can sell the ETFs & AIFs and avail liquid investment in money market instruments (stocks, bonds, etc.) at any time;
The applicant has no restrictions on buying agricultural land in Bulgaria;
The applicant will get free movement, education and healthcare in EU;
The applicant will possess the Bulgarian passport which is an EU passport;
The applicant can vote in Bulgaria;
The applicant can buy properties in the entire EU and Schengen zone without any restrictions;
The applicant can open bank accounts in any EU & Schengen countries.
As a Bulgarian citizen, you can freely travel and invest in property throughout the EU, with enhanced global mobility.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT
Applicants who have been sentenced are not eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by investment. This does not apply if the applicant has been rehabilitated.
Spouses obtain Bulgarian citizenship right away after the principal applicant has been granted Bulgarian citizenship. Sadly, spouses can attain Bulgarian citizenship after holding permanent residence for three years according to the latest amendments of Art. 12a of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act .
Children below 18 years old get Bulgarian citizenship instantly after the principal applicant was granted Bulgarian citizenship. Sorry to say, children above 18 years old may apply for Bulgarian citizenship by origin.
HOW TO APPLY FOR BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP?
To apply for Bulgarian citizenship, you must collect all the necessary documents, make the investment, provide proof of your investment and submit all paperwork. Afterward, when you’re rewarded with permanent residency, the final step to apply for Bulgarian citizenship is to submit your application.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ACQUIRE MY PERMANENT RESIDENCE PERMIT?
To obtain permanent residence, it takes around 4-6 months.
I HAVE A FAMILY. CAN MY SPOUSE AND CHILDREN OBTAIN CITIZENSHIP AS WELL?
Yes, your spouse (of at least five years) and all underage dependent children can be added to the same application. No extra investment will need to be made. However, there are extra application fees to consider for minor children and your spouse.
AM I REQUIRED TO HAVE PREVIOUS BUSINESS OR MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE?
No. Previous business or management experience is not necessary.
ARE THERE ANY MINIMUM EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS?
No. There is no minimum educational requirement.
IS BULGARIA PART OF THE EU?
Absolutely yes, Bulgaria is part of the EU, and as such has access to the same EU citizenship benefits. As an EU citizen, you can live, work, study, and travel anywhere in Europe’s Schengen zone.
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Bulgaria has kept much of its charms, loaded history, traditions, as well as striking landscapes. As of 2021, some 500 individuals had made applications for Bulgarian citizenship on the basis of investment.
For more information about the Bulgarian Immigrant Investor Program (BGIIP), please contact our office.
For the Citizenship by Investment Programs comparison table, please click here.
To see our Caribbean citizenship by investment comparison table, Please click here
Fill out our Free Assessment to find out if you qualify for any of the immigration programs offered.