Bulgaria

Residency By Investment

250,000 lev

Business Investment

Citizenship By Investment

2,000,000 lev

Investment In Bonds, Equity Or Intellectual Property

Mobility

171

Visa Free Travel

Bulgaria Investment Immigration Programs Overview

NOTE: MPs have voted in favor of ending Bulgaria’s CBI program!

Bulgaria’s citizenship-by-investment program used to offer a low-cost, flexible gateway to the European Union as well as worldwide visa-free travel. The CBI program was founded in 2009; it was modified in 2013 and 2021; however, in March 2022, Bulgarian MPs voted in favoring of ending the program. The CBI program used to offer permanent residency in exchange for a 1 million Bulgarian lev (about $600,000) investment in a range of options, including bonds, stocks and even intellectual property. Investors could then obtain full citizenship after five years — or, in exchange for investing an additional 1 million lev, they could fast-track their application and obtain full citizenship within about 12 months of making their initial investment.

Investors could divest their investment (both the initial and the secondary) two years after receiving citizenship. Investors kept their investments on their bank accounts (in case of financial investments, such as shares or stocks), or in their name (in case of intellectual property) at all times and received all proceeds on top, including the bond coupons or dividends from the stocks, so the total cost of the program could be remarkably low. With no language requirement and no residency requirement besides four short trips during the application process, Bulgaria’s CBI program used to be an attractive option for investors seeking unlimited residency rights in the European Union.

Citizenship By Investment

Bulgarian residency and citizenship laws used to offer a number of pathways where investors could obtain permanent residency, and subsequently citizenship, by investing 1 million Bulgarian lev in a range of different ways. Most investors used to opt for investment in government bonds, but it was also possible to invest in shares in Bulgarian companies traded on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. Making an investment managed through a trust agreement with a Bulgarian bank used to be also possible, but was more complicated in terms of legal compliance. Purchasing intellectual property and patents used to be a possibility, however it was not as widespread as bonds and shares due to the difficulty to evaluate the legal value of the intangible investments.

Investors who maintained their core residency investment for five years qualified for citizenship, while investors who doubled down and invested an extra 1 million lev could qualify after just 12 months. Fast-tracked investors must maintain their investments for two years after obtaining citizenship, however.

Some investors used to opt to finance their initial investments, increasing the overall cost but significantly reducing the amount of capital needed to obtain Bulgarian citizenship. Such approaches might be legal under certain circumstances but were considered complex and risky. They should be viewed with caution and the professionals in the field of Bulgarian investment citizenship were advised against such option.

How To Apply

The first step in the application process was to assign a professional to perform preliminary due diligence and ensure legal compliance. This was an essential step, which was being neglected by some candidates, who later encountered serious compliance problems. The next step was to make the required investment. While it could be useful to obtain professional advice in making arrangements, the investment itself should always remain in the applicant’s name and under their direct and sole control. 

Applicants should be wary of agents who ask them to transfer money out of their own accounts, which could be a scam allowing agents to pocket the interest that accumulates on an investor’s capital. Also be cautious about plans that involve financing the capital used for the CBI investment. Though permissible under certain scenarios, such approaches could be risky, and were generally frowned upon by immigration officials.

Once the investment was made, applicants could file their paperwork to begin the process. This was a multi-stage process that required four trips to Bulgaria. Neither trip needed to last more than a few days, however. The due-diligence process for Bulgarian immigration investors was previously seen as less intensive scrutiny than some other programs. 

Since the end of 2017 however, the situation had shifted somewhat and it was absolutely essential for every applicant to undergo a preliminary due diligence procedure and feasibility assessment with a reputable immigration law firm. The Bulgarian government was determined to keep the fast-track citizenship program as a legal pathway for new citizens with “great business visions” rather than a “passport for sale scheme.” As before, investors must be able to produce a criminal record report showing that they have not been convicted of serious crimes.

Mobility

Bulgaria, though a member of the European Union, is not currently a member of the Schengen Area, so residency card holders do not receive automatic travel rights in Europe. Bulgarian passport holders, however, enjoy visa-free access to 171 countries, including the E.U., making the Bulgarian passport the 20th-strongest in the world.

Country

As an industrialized eastern bloc country, Bulgaria economy has in recent years diversified and grown steadily. Bulgaria is now a stable parliamentary democracy. Bulgaria’s coastal and mountain resorts are popular with international tourists and locals take pride in their country’s architecture, long history and rich culture.

Updated by Alexander Dobrinov and Uglobal Staff

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Citizenship By Investment

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Residency By Investment

Investors using the pathway described for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship receive permanent citizenship after making their initial investments. It is also possible to obtain “continuous residence” — a long-term residency visa that only lasts for a year, but which can be renewed indefinitely — by investing at least 500,000 lev to take over, or create a business that employs at least 10 people; by investing 250,000 lev in a company that creates at least five jobs in an economically challenged region; or by investing 600,000 lev in real estate.


An applicant for permanent residency by investment in Bulgaria has the following options:

  • Invest $1.2 million in Bulgarian stock exchange listed companies;
  • $1.2 million in Bulgarian corporate bonds;
  • $600,000 in Bulgarian collective investment funds (UCITs and ETFs);
  • $600,000 in Bulgarian alternative funds (AIFs);
  • $600,000 in Bulgarian concession contracts;
  • $1.2 million in Certified Priority Investment Project (CPIP, basically the analogue of the EB5);
  • $300,000 in a Bulgarian company that employs 10 Bulgarian citizens;
  • Participation in certified investment project – the minimum amount is dependent on the project.

Updated by Alexander Dobrinov

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The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program has stopped accepting new applications until April 1, 2021

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

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