Bulgarian MPs approve changes to citizenship and foreigner laws

Bulgaria’s National Assembly adopted at second reading on February 26 bills to amend the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, which included a Brexit-related provision concerning British nationals, and the Foreigners Act.

Under the amended law, British nationals who applied for Bulgarian citizenship before December 31 2020 would be treated the same as EU citizens, meaning that they would not have to relinquish their British passports if granted Bulgarian citizenship.

British nationals applying for Bulgarian passports after the end of the transition period that followed the UK’s departure from the EU, however, would have to give up their British citizenship.

The bulk of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act amendments concern the scheme that makes it possible to apply for Bulgarian residence or citizenship in return for large investments.

The bill lists a number of conditions under which foreigners could acquire citizenship in exchange for investment, but it was not clear to what extent the amended law would alleviate the concerns raised by the European Commission in 2019 with regard to “golden passports”.

The changes to the Foreigners Act contained detailed procedures on residence permits applications by non-EU nationals, including categories such as students, seasonal workers, intra-corporate transfers and members of their families, holders of EU Blue Card residence and work permits and members of their families.

In its motives for tabling the amendments, the Cabinet said that the changes would fully implement EU regulations, including Directive 2011/98/EU and Directive 2014/66/EU.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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