Opportunities for Wealthy Migrants in Bulgaria

Opportunities for Wealthy Migrants in Bulgaria

Bulgaria, located in South-East Europe, has a attractive residence and citizenship program. Unlike in other countries all descendants of a Bulgarian citizen are entitled to citizenship. 

This month Bulgaria has taken over the European Union’s rotating 6-month presidency. This comes as a reminder to some that in the EU all members are legally equal. There is no such thing as a «second class member» for which Bulgaria is sometimes mistaken. The South-East European country has a population 7,2 million (mostly Orthodox Christians) and is also a full-fledged member of Nato. It also has a little-known, but attractive residence and citizenship program.

Qualified applicants need to invest in a government bond which they are ought to hold in a local bank account in their own name for 5 years. In exchange they get a Permanent Residence (PR). After five years of Permanent Residence they can apply for Bulgarian citizenship. There is a fast-track option under which citizenship can be applied for after only two years of permanent residence.

The Right to Take up Residence Anywhere in the EU

Unlike in most other countries all descendants (including adults) of a Bulgarian citizen are entitled to citizenship as well. Future generations are also entitled to citizenship. This does not apply to sons- and daughters-in-law though. With Bulgarian citizenship comes the right to take up residence anywhere in the EU, the European Economic Area EEA and bilaterally associated Switzerland.

Like other EU members such as the U.K. and Ireland, Bulgaria is not (yet) a member of the Schengen area, an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport control at their mutual borders. «Schengen» functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. However, as recent as September 2017 EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker has made it clear that Bulgaria (along with Romania) should join the Schengen borderless area «immediately».

A Slow, But Solid And Cost-efficient Way

Personally, I do not think that accession will be still this year, but the country has expressed its readiness to join repeatedly, and membership is only a matter of time. Only during the period of permanent residence visas for other EU countries may be required (depending on the country of origin of the migrant), but as soon as Bulgarian citizenship is granted visa-free access to all Schengen countries is guaranteed.

Portugal and Hungary with their excellent residency-by-investment programs grant citizenship only after 6 respectively 8 years, and language requirements apply. In this context Bulgaria offers a slow, but solid and cost-efficient way to European residence and citizenship.

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