Bulgarian Parliament approves revised law on citizenship for foreign investors

Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on February 13 2013 to amend anew the Investment Promotion Act in response to a veto by President Rossen Plevneliev of earlier amendments, with MPs now agreeing to changes creating consistency in the new law and lowering the thresholds for giving Bulgarian citizenship to foreign investors.

A person who has been given permanent residence on the basis of investment in Bulgaria, in the form of no less than 500 000 leva in the capital of a Bulgarian-registered company, and has had this status for a year will be eligible for citizenship.

The new amendments specify investment sums much lower than those required in the initial version of the changes, that were sent back for reconsideration by Plevneliev.

The new version is that an investor who has put 600 000 leva into Bulgarian property, 500 000 leva into a firm creating at least 10 jobs or 250 000 leva into a company that creates at least five jobs in an economically underdeveloped region of Bulgaria will be eligible to apply for permanent residence.

When he rejected the initial version of the amendments, Plevneliev criticised them for being more likely to serve as a disincentive to invest and for the law containing internal contradictions.

According to the amendments adopted on February 13, the amount on which the application for permanent residence is based must have been paid in full to a Bulgarian licensed bank at the time of application. If property was acquired with a loan, the amount outstanding on the loan should exceed no more than 25 per cent of the loan.

Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Delyan Dobrev told Parliament that there had been awkwardness with visa issues, telling MPs of a case of a Class A investor who had spent six hours stuck at Sofia Airport because of a visa query.

Opposition socialists criticised the new amendments, saying that they would put Bulgaria’s national security at risk and would raise a new obstacle to Bulgaria being admitted to the EU’s Schengen visa zone.

Centre-right minority party MPs said that the threshold for permanent residence and citizenship for foreign investors in Bulgaria should be lowered even further, to stimulate job creation.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)




The Sofia Globe staff

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