Bulgaria moves to ease property qualification for permanent residence

A Bulgarian parliamentary committee has approved the first reading of changes to the Foreigners Act to decrease the property value ownership qualification for permanent residence from 600 000 leva (about 300 000 euro) to 100 000 leva.

The change is being proposed to make matters easier for the many Russian citizens buying property at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, in the cities of Varna and Bourgas and surrounding areas, reports from the committee meeting said.
The proposed decrease of the sum required to qualify for permanent residence in Bulgaria was proposed by the Cabinet and has the support of the Interior Ministry’s Migration Directorate.

Those who had bought property had invested in Bulgaria and daily were supporting the country’s economy, the directorate said, according to a report in daily Sega.

Foreigners who have the status of long-term residents in the country have all rights and obligations of Bulgarian citizens except those for which Bulgarian citizenship is required, such as voting and standing in elections. They can be employed by Bulgarian employers and obtain social insurance.

The proposal at the meeting of the National Assembly committee on internal order and security had wide support, though no MPs from the opposition parties the Movement for Rights and Freedoms or Ataka were present, while the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) abstained.

BSP MP Krassimir Yankov said that such a drastic lowering of the threshold for investing in property could seriously change the profile of foreigners in the resort areas and bring people from risk countries to Bulgaria. These concerns were not accepted by MPs from other parliamentary groups.

Further changes to the Foreigners Act envisage a requirement that foreigners with long-term residence in Bulgaria who have a business in Bulgaria will have to create at least 10 full-time jobs for Bulgarians. The law currently has a requirement along these lines, but without specifying the type of employment.

Other changes envisage changing the deadline for a natural or legal person who provides accommodation to a foreigner to notify the Interior Ministry and municipal authorities within three days instead of the current five days.

The Cabinet also has proposed an entirely new provision regarding the status of foreigners without citizenship, meaning stateless persons, staying in the country. The proposal is to deny residence status to people who deliberately do not declare their citizenship in order to obtain residence.

Foreigners may get permission to stay in the country under the Bulgarian Citizenship Act. This allows a foreigner to apply for citizenship if the foreigner already has permanent residence and places at least a million leva capital in a Bulgarian company or increases his or her investments in Bulgaria to a minimum two million leva.