Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on November 23 to approve the second reading of amendments to laws on the EU Blue Card residence and work permit to lengthen the validity from the current one to four years.
The change comes into effect through amendments to Bulgaria’s Foreigners Act and the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act.
The Blue Card is an approved EU-wide work permit, proposed by the European Commission in October 2007 and which came into effect through an EC directive in 2009.
It enables highly-skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country in the EU, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, which opted out.
A dedicated EU Blue Card section was added to the EU Immigration Portal on in June 2016.The site provides country-specific information to potential Blue Card applicants.
Bulgaria’s MPs voted that, if the term of the employment contract is less than four years, an EU Blue Card is issued for the duration of the contract, may be extended by three months, and may be renewed if there are grounds for reissuing.
Such a residence permit and an EU Blue Card can be obtained by foreigners who are highly qualified workers within the meaning of the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act and have a valid visa or a long-term residence permit in the Republic of Bulgaria on another basis.
When applying for initial access to the labour market and for the extension of the EU Blue Card, the foreigner will no longer be required to do while residing outside the territory of Bulgaria.
Parliament also voted to provide that a short-term visa may be given to a non-EU foreigner who wants to do seasonal work in Bulgaria for up to 90 days. This amends a rule barring foreigners on short-term visas from working in Bulgaria.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party did not support the amendments, saying that they were rejected by trade unions who were concerned that foreigners would take away Bulgarian jobs.
In June 2017, the government headed by Boiko Borissov approved changes to the regulations on the implementation on the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act, to ease the procedure for registering seasonal workers from outside the EU.
At the same meeting, the Cabinet decided that the procedure for granting access to the labour market to highly qualified foreign specialists for obtaining an EU Blue Card will be facilitated, without prejudice to the rights of Bulgarian workers, a government statement said at the time.
Announcing these and other changes to the regulations, the statement said that EU Blue Card holders are mainly employed in the information and communication technology sector, which has high potential for development, and the relief of procedures will help to provide the necessary staff not available on the Bulgarian labour market.