Started in 2009, the Bulgaria Immigrant Investor Program is one of the most comprehensive in the world. Since then, the program has had a multitude of expansions, and is still in place since its 2019 reassessment. It also offers a quick way to gain nationalization by its participants, especially since it allows entry via a variety of investment platforms.
The Bulgarian government does fast-track investors towards, by doubling their initial investment to their immigrant investor program. In the past, there was serious doubt about this route as investors waited years without resolve. But since 2019, the Bulgarian government announced it was remedying the situation.
The main pro of pursuing Bulgarian residence and naturalization is that Bulgaria is an EU country. As a permanent residence, you do not gain a Schengen visa, but as a citizen, you can live anywhere in the EU. The Bulgaria passport is well ranked.
So what kind of options does the Bulgarian residence scheme offer?
Bulgaria Immigrant Investment Program
Bulgaria allows permanent residency to individuals who have invested over BGN 1 million (around $620,000).
Individuals who already have investments in the country that haven’t reached that value can still apply if they increase their investments to that amount.
However, the investment increase should be done by acquiring:
- Shares in a Bulgarian company/business traded on its regulated market.
- Shares held in Bulgarian companies by the state and/or its municipalities(that fall under the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act).
- Property rights from a Bulgarian company/business. Must be for an autonomous portion of the company’s assets, where greater than 50% of the company’s capital is owned by a Bulgarian state or municipality (as specified in the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act).
- Treasury bills, bonds, in addition to derivatives issued by the state and/or its municipalities. Those instruments must have a 6-month residual term to the final maturity date.
- Intellectual property within Bulgaria, which include inventions (patent-protected), trademarks, industrial design and service marks, utility models, and copyright subjects and any related rights.
- Concession contract rights within Bulgarian territory.
Alternatively, permanent residence permits can also be offered to individuals investing capital in a Bulgarian company that doesn’t have shares traded on its regulated market. But, the investment amount must be over BGN 6,000,000 (around $3.75 million).
Bulgaria Immigrant Entrepreneur Program – permanent residence
Permanent residency permits can be given to foreigners investing over BGN 500,000 into a Bulgarian company’s capital. However, the investor must be a shareholder or partner with registered shares, while holding 50% of its capital at minimum.
Over the long term, the company must acquire an extra BGN 500,000 of intangible assets. The business company is required to open 10 workplaces for local citizens.
After fulfilling those requirements, the Ministry of Economy will certify the investment. That investment must be maintained throughout the investor’s residence duration.
Bulgaria Immigrant Entrepreneur Program – temporary residence
Following Bulgaria’s Investment Promotion Act, foreigners can invest in financially disadvantaged regions, by paying capital into a Bulgarian company of at least BGN 250,000. The foreigner must become a shareholder or partner in the company while owning a minimum 50% of its capital.
Also, similar to the previous program, they must acquire an additional BGN 250,000 in long-term intangible and tangible assets, while providing to Bulgarian citizens a minimum of 5 workspaces.
The Economy Ministry must certify the workplaces, and they should be opened and kept throughout the temporary residency period.
Bulgaria Immigrant Investor Real Estate Program
Bulgaria only offers temporary residence to real estate investors.
Each foreigner must invest an amount over BGN 600,000. The capital should go to acquiring real property titles within Bulgarian territory.
That property may also belong to a business owned by foreign investors. In that case, the investor’s share of the business capital should be over 50%.
Also, the company must be a Bulgarian business, where the money has been paid for the acquisition of titles belonging to real properties. However, the properties should’ve been acquired before the application’s submission date.
The full amount for the property should be paid before and received by a bank account operated by a licensed Bulgarian credit service.
If loaned finance was used to acquire the property, then the portion unpaid should be less than 25% of the total.
Bulgaria Citizenship by Investment
Foreigners with already permanent residence in Bulgaria can qualify for fast naturalization just after a single year.
They’ll need to invest an extra BGN 1,000,000 in an investment project, as defined by the Encouragement of Investments Act (article 22f).
A 6-month application process is followed, whereby Bulgarian citizenship is awarded to the applicant.