A working group has been set up to propose amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act by the end of 2018, Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva said on October 30.
Tsacheva was speaking a day after special prosecutors and anti-corruption officials held 20 people, including the head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, in connection with alleged corruption in the issuing of certificates proving Bulgarian ancestry, by law a gateway to citizenship.
This is not the first time in recent years that the agency has been the focus of allegations of irregularities in the issuing of such certificates, particularly to citizens of nearby non-EU countries that want Bulgarian passports as a means to get labour and movement rights in the EU.
Tsacheva said that the agency had problems regarding the issuing of certificates of Bulgarian origin.
She said that between May 2017 and the end of June 2018, her ministry had proposed to the vice-president – who has delegated authority over citizenship applications – to refuse applications for Bulgarian citizenship in 750 cases. There were various reasons, including that 96 applicants had criminal backgrounds.
Tsacheva said that the working group would be looking to propose amendments to two aspects of grounds for claiming citizenship, one on the basis of Bulgarian origin and the other on the grounds of naturalisation through investment.
She said that she had been assured by the Economy Ministry that it would present its opinion on the effect of the latter, as to whether real jobs were created through it.
Citizenship by investment requires an investment of at least a million leva. Successful applicants are exempt from the requirement to be able to speak Bulgarian, and are not required to live and work in Bulgaria.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)