Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved, at a meeting on June 20 2012, proposed changes to the Citizenship Act that will facilitate the granting of citizenship to significant foreign investors.
Yet to be decided is the question of just how much a would-be citizen should have invested.
So far, the sum discussed has been 500 000 leva (about 250 000 euro) but, as news website Mediapool put it, Parliament has never accepted the idea of granting citizenship for money.
The ministers of economy and of finance will have to draft a special ordinance setting out the conditions for investors to be given Bulgarian citizenship, including the size of the investment.
The proposed changes also provide for allowing dual nationality for citizens of other European Union member states and Switzerland, as well as for citizens of countries with which Bulgaria has signed bilateral agreements on dual nationality.
The bill also provides for an applicant for citizenship not to be required to show that the citizenship of another country has been renounced, provided that the applicant has applied to renounce their passport but there has been no response to the request. Examples where this happens include applicants who are citizens of Iran and Syria.
The proposed changes allow for a simplified procedure for people who have foreign citizenship by virtue of bilateral agreements between Bulgaria and other former socialist bloc countries.
This aspect of the law is to correct a problem caused by mistakes by municipalities – most people in this category have Bulgarian identity documents, are locally registered as Bulgarian citizens and even served in Bulgaria’s military, but are not Bulgarian citizens under international law.
In the past 10 years,Bulgaria has granted citizenship to more than 70 000 people, mostly on the basis of the applicants stating Bulgarian origins – this has been the case with most applicants from Macedonia and Moldova.