Bulgaria has revamped its Citizenship by Investment Program

During the past two years, many experts were anticipating that Bulgaria would cancel its citizenship by investment program or would at least cripple its conditions. What happened however, came as surprise to many who were unaware of the political climate in the country. Bulgaria, in stark contrast to its former EU rivals – Cyprus and Malta, was much less aggressive into marketing its CIP. The Bulgarian budget wasn’t profiting from the investment citizenship candidates and as result, the state did little or nothing to promote its own program. But as we often say, the coin has two sides.

While Bulgaria didn’t benefit financially, the amount of Golden Passports issued, especially compared to its population (Bulgaria has 8 times the population of Cyprus and 14 times that of Malta), was miniscule. And this is exactly what made the Bulgarian CIP – sustainable. And when all other EU countries had to adjust from Golden Passport to Golden Visa opportunities, Bulgaria became the only exception to retain full citizenship by investment program.

Political consensus and EU approval

The European Commission had obviously come into terms with the fact that Bulgaria will continue to offer Golden Passport (full EU citizenship). The Bulgarian deputies, after careful consultations with the different governmental authorities, have reached a consensus and as result, the Bulgarian CIP was reborn in 2021.

The new legislation

The Bulgarian parliament voted for and on Feb. 26, 2021 passed serious amendments into its Foreigners Law and Law on the Bulgarian Citizenship. The president also approved the amendments, which were published in the State Gazette on March 12, 2021. With that, on March 15 the new Bulgarian citizenship by investment program was officially born.

What are the conditions of the new program

Pretty much like with the old program, one can become eligible for Bulgarian citizenship in only 12 months under the fast-track option. The law requires the candidate to initially make one of the following investments (the amounts in dollars are converted and thus approximate):

  • $ 1.2 million in shares of public Bulgarian 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.

After the above investment is completed, the applicant will obtain permanent residence in Bulgaria.

In only 12 months after the permanent residence status is obtained, the applicant can become immediately eligible for Bulgarian citizenship, by doubling his investment as per the options above. There are also other options, as the new law is very comprehensive.

Without any additional investment (doubling the initial investment), the applicant will be eligible for citizenship after 5 years (semi-fast-track-option).

As with the previous program, no history or language exam is required, nor surrendering previous citizenship(s).

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About the Author

Alexander  Dobrinov
Alexander Dobrinov

Alexander Dobrinov is a Bulgarian immigration consultant. He serves as the managing director at Citizenship and Investment Ltd, an immigration advisory firm with offices in Dubai, Hong Kong and Bulgaria.

Specializing in the Bulgarian citizenship-by-investment program, Citizenship and Investment provides legal and compliance consultation, tax planning and administrative support to international clients for the obtaining of Bulgarian citizenship.

With extensive knowledge of EU immigration law and second citizenship, Dobrinov advises high net worth individuals from Russia, the MENA area and Southeast Asia on various types of visas and citizenship of Bulgaria. He also assists international businesses in company structuring, tax compliance, mergers and acquisitions.

Dobrinov co-founded Vasilev – Dobrinov & Associates, an international legal consultancy practicing in the areas of commercial law, tax law, criminal law, immigration and investment. He also manages Posoltvo.eu, an advisory firm offering information and legal support on working visas, residency and citizenship of Bulgaria.

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