By Moustafa Daly
After officially joining the European Union (EU) in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania are finally gearing up to partially join the Schengen Area starting March 31, 2024.
From that date on, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and residents will be able to enter the Schengen Area by sea or land without undergoing border checks. However, land travel remains subject to border checks.
Both countries have residency by investment (RBI) programs, meaning global investors now have two more options to consider when pursuing investor residency in the EU. The Bulgarian RBI program requires a minimum investment of €512,000, while the Romanian one is at €1 million.
As such, the news has the potential to help both programs surge in popularity.
“After the decision to join the Schengen Area was announced, we have been experiencing about 10 to 15 times more enquiries related to the possibility to obtain Bulgarian residence permit,” says Alexander Dobrinov, managing partner at Bulgaria-based Posolstvo.
Could joining the EU mean trouble for the RBI programs in Bulgaria and Romania?
However, with the EU pursuing strict regulations of golden visa and RBI programs in the continent, both programs could soon have to contend with the bloc’s scrutiny over their residency visa offerings.
“The EU might certainly try to limit the options, but as we say, ‘when there is certainty there is no concern’,” adds Dobrinov.
“The thing is that Bulgaria has many options to obtain a residence permit and while there are three different residence types (long-term, prolonged-term and permanent), these all are basically becoming of equal value after the Schengen accession. Nobody can kill all these options, even the EU,” he adds.
Both countries offer relative advantages to RBI investors, mainly low cost of living and relatively low tax rates. “Bulgaria has a 10% tax rate and although citizenship is not related directly with taxation, this is something that attracts many foreigners,” explains Dobrinov.
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