Bulgarian Parliament did not adopt controversial amendment to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act, providing for a lower threshold for investments in real estate as grounds for obtaining of right of residence

On 12.02.2016 Bulgarian Parliament adopted amendments to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. Entirely new provisions were introduced to the act. The existing framework was also substantially amended. Some of the changes are aimed at aligning the national legislation with the country’s international obligations as well as at unifying the legal wording with European standards. Another group of amendments refines and further develops the current legislation.

The proposed decrease of the threshold from 600 000 to 100 000 BGN for investments in real estate to grant the Long-term Residence Permit was deemed essential, given the increasing interest of foreign investors in doing business in Bulgaria. The said draft amendment was not adopted by the MPs. The text was earlier criticized during the first reading debates. MPs expressed concerns about the amendment especially in the wake of the refugee crisis. Opinions were voiced that such a drastic decrease of the threshold could seriously influence the profile of foreigners in Bulgaria.

The following provisions, concerning the right of residence in the Republic of Bulgaria arising from an investment, fall within the scope of the final amendments to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act:

An additional requirement is introduced in order to obtain a Long-term Residence Permit for commercial activity in the country – the minimum of ten employees which needed to be hired must be employed full-time. The latter requirement applies to every single shareholder in the company. This amendment will ensure that only people who de facto engage in commercial activities will be entitled to reside in the country, excluding the option to use the mere registration of a legal entity for this purpose.

Stricter requirements are adopted in regard to persons who apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in their capacity of representatives of foreign commercial companies. The documents relating to the company’s commercial activity, the tax regularity and the investors’ intended activities in the country shall be subject to preliminary survey and evaluation.