Late February this year, a bill was passed by Bulgaria’s parliament modifying its CBI program. The changes have been in effect since then.
The modifications were changes brought up by the Bulgarian government since early 2019. They offer many investment routes. And, they offer multiple ways to fast-track each route (under certain conditions).
Quick Summary of Key Changes
They are as follows:
- New investment paths were added to the program
- The government is cancelling the sovereign bonds option it has previously offered
- Direct-hold equities have seen an increase in required investment thresholds
- Applicants are offered extra assurances
- Requirements have been eased for applicants’ spouses
- Processing times have decreased per application
What Options Does the New Program Offer?
Bulgaria’s modified program offers 7 paths, they are as follows:
(1) Trading Stocks in Bulgaria. This option requires a minimum amount of $1.24 million USD. A fast track is allowed if an applicant doubles their investment on similar statutory conditions.
(2) UCITS, specifically Bulgarian focused exchange-traded funds. This option requires a minimum amount of $620,000 USD. A fast track is allowed if an applicant doubles their investment on similar statutory conditions.
(3) Investments in AIF (Alternative Investment Funds). This option includes hedge funds, venture funds, and private equality. A part or whole of the investment must be Bulgarian focused. This option requires a minimum amount of $620,000 USD. It follows similar fast track conditions to options 1 and 2.
(4) Investing in Bulgarian company. The chosen company must carry on a CPIP (Certified Priority Investment Project). The minimum required investment is $620,000 USD. A fast track option is offered, similar to the first three options.
(5) Investing in Bulgarian company (employing 10+ Bulgarians). The minimum required investment is $310,000 USD. A fast track is offered if the investor doubles the investment amount. However, doubling the investment must lead to 20+ Bulgarians being hired (in total).
(6) Investing in Bulgarian private company (regardless of geography or sector). The minimum required investment is at $3.7 million.
(7) Investment in a CIP (Certified Investment Option). This differs from the CPIP of option 4. The minimum amount required depends on the project.
Additional Requirements to Note
All investments must be held for an additional 2 years after the applicant receives citizenship, and for a total of 5 years (minimum).
The first three options discussed require government pre-approval. The process of that hasn’t been defined yet in legislation. But with the EU imposing strict money laundering laws, applicants might be required to provide detailed proof of fund sources.
Also, applicants will need to submit the following:
- Proof of identity
- Information on source of funds
- Info to asses if applicant is a politically-exposed-person
- Info on the professional/business background of applicant
- Criminal record from origin country or current permanent residence country
The fast track also offers good news for spouses. They can now apply for citizenship within a year after the main applicant (unlike the previous 3 year limit).
Overall, Bulgaria seems to have a well-designed bill, suited to sophisticated investors.
It also has investor interest in-mind. Its options focus mainly on the financial markets, which historically have higher returns than other markets (such as real estate).
It’s also more convenient for investors seeking their capital back – unlike programs such as Malta, which mostly operate on donation basis.