By Uglobal Staff
Bulgarian lawmakers have voted in favor of ending the country’s citizenship by investment program during the second reading of the draft law to this effect; migration industry professionals warn the move would also affect all pending citizenship applications and hurt many innocent applicants.
Bulgarian immigration consultant Alexander Dobrinov, who serves as managing director at Citizenship and Investment Ltd., said that the Bulgarian state would likely face several lawsuits from many foreign applicants who were expecting to be get the Bulgarian citizenship after meeting all the conditions of the CBI program.
“Although the president (of Bulgaria) has to still approve the bill in order to enact it, we consider the program to be now virtually dead,” he said. “We expect huge number of lawsuits against the Bulgarian state for damages, as the voted text foresees that all pending applications will be cancelled with immediate effect.”
Why Bulgaria ends its citizenship by investment program
The Bulgarian government, which is on an anti-corruption drive, thinks otherwise and backs the changes to the CBI law.
Krum Zarkov, who is a lawmaker with the Socialist party that is a member of the ruling coalition, welcomed the move to end the CBI program. "With the legal changes, Bulgaria will finally cancel the opportunity to get citizenship against investment, the so-called ‘golden passports’," Zarkov was quoted in media.
RCBI professionals, however, think the move to end the program would be counterproductive.
“This is unfair, to put it mildly, as there are many applicants who have invested in Bulgaria and have fulfilled all administrative requirements. Without any fault on their side, they will be now ‘punished’ as the state will basically not honor the ‘conditions’ of the law and will not grant them citizenship,” Dobrinov said.
Impact to Bulgarian investors already approved for a passport
According to the text of the soon to be enacted law, those who have already been granted citizenship under the program could also lose their coveted status if the Bulgarian state body finds any discrepancy.
“The State Agency for National Security will be now checking all approved citizenship applications for irregularities and if any are found, the citizenship of the concerned may be cancelled. We suspect that, in line with the actions of the western countries in recent weeks, many Russian citizens who have obtained Bulgarian citizenship by investment may be affected,” Dobrinov added.
The option to gain residency by investment is expected to stay even after the CBI is abolished.
Bulgaria first announced it was planning to end its CBI program on Jan. 12 when the Bulgarian Council of Ministers endorsed the Ministry of Justice's draft bill calling for the end to the citizenship by investment program.
RCBI programs across Europe and the Caribbean have come under renewed scrutiny ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Several countries, including Greece, Portugal, Malta, Ireland and the UK have suspended the processing of RCBI applications from all Russians and Belarusians after the EU backed by the US and the UK called for enhanced sanctions against anti-Ukraine countries.
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