Emigration and Visas in Bulgaria
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Bulgaria Emigration and Visas
European citizens who wish to enter and stay in Bulgaria do not need a visa. Foreigners are divided into two categories such who must be in possession of visa when crossing the borders of the Republic of Bulgaria and such who are exempt from that requirement.
Visa requirements and the exemption of such requirements for Foreigners are governed by the EU legislation, agreements of the European Union with third countries for visa regime and the effective Bulgarian legislation.
Foreigners who wish to reside in Bulgaria on a long term or permanent basis (more than three months within each six-month period) shall be issued residence permit. European citizens who intend to stay in Bulgaria longer than three months are issued residence certificates instead of residence permits.
According to the effective Bulgarian legislation, certain categories of Foreigners must obtain a visa before entering the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The Ordinance on the Terms and Procedure for Issuing Visas and Determination of the Visa Regime and the Council Regulation 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 /L81/2001 determine the list of those countries whose nationals must be in possession of visa when crossing the borders of the Republic of Bulgaria and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.
Foreigners who are exempt from the requirement for obtaining a visa can enter and stay the Republic of Bulgarian without visa for up to 90 days within a period of six months, starting from the date of first entrance.
The visa is a clearance, issued to the Foreigners, for entry and/or stay on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for a certain period of time.
A valid visa is not a guarantee of entry into Bulgaria. The border control officers will determine whether the Foreigner meets the requirements for admission. If there has been a change in the circumstances between the date of the application and the arrival, or if subsequent information is given which was not originally available to the visa office, then the Foreigner may be refused entry.
The Foreign Nationals Act provides for the following main visa categories: air transit visa, transit visa, short-stay visa and long-stay visa.
Air transit visa is issued to a Foreigner who travels by aircraft from a certain country and stays in the international transit zone of an airport on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria with the aim of continuing his/her travel with the first next flight to a different country. Air transit visa allows the Foreigner one, two or, as an exception, multiple entries in the territory of Bulgaria. Air transit visa can be with a term of validity of up to three months.
A transit visa is required for travel through Bulgaria to another country. A transit visa allows the Foreigner one, two or, as an exception, several transit passages, of 36 hours each. The validity of the transit visa can be up to 12 months.
A short-stay visa allows a Foreigner single or multiple entries into Bulgaria for up to 90 days within a period of six months. Multiple entry short-stay visa can be issued with a term of validity of up to one year, and, as an exception, with a term of validity of up to five years. Among the grounds for issuance of a multiple entry short-stay visa are: (i) the Foreigner is a member of the family of a Bulgarian citizen, (ii) the Foreigner is a member of the family of a European citizen, who has been granted a residence permit, (iii) the Foreigner maintains permanent business contacts with Bulgarian individuals or legal entities, which perform commercial activity in Bulgaria, etc.
A long-stay visa allows a Foreigner to enter into Bulgaria and thereafter to apply for a long-term or permanent residence permit. The validity of the long-stay visa is 6 (six) months and it allows its holder of stay up to 90 days. For certain categories of foreigners the validity of the long-stay visa is up to 1 (one) year and it allows its holder of stay up to 360 days (e.g. foreigners conducting scientific research, foreigners on business trips on behalf of a foreign employer for performing specific tasks related to control and coordination of the implementation of a tourist services contract, foreigners on business trips on behalf of a foreign employer for effecting investments certified under the procedure of the Investment Promotion Act, etc.).
he long-stay visa allows its holder multiple entries to the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria within its validity term.
The calculation of the period commences on the day of first arrival into Bulgaria as indicated in the Foreigners international passport. All visa applications should be submitted to the respective Bulgarian diplomatic missions and consular departments around the world. In case there is no diplomatic mission or consular department in certain country, visa applications can be submitted to such authorities of a member state, with which Bulgaria has an agreement for representation in acceptance of visa applications and issuance of visas. In exceptional cases (e.g. the states interest or extraordinary circumstances) border control officers, after coordination with the Foreign Nationals Administrative Control Office, can issue transit visas with a term of 36 hours and short-term residence visas for a term of 15 days.
European citizens who wish to enter and stay in Bulgaria do not need a visa. They enter and leave the country with an identity card or a passport. They can stay and reside in Bulgaria for a period up to three months starting from the date of their first entry without need to obtain any permits or certificates.
Residence permits and residence certificates.
Foreigners who wish to reside in Bulgaria on a long term or permanent basis (more than three months within each six-month period) shall be issued residence permits. European citizens who intend to stay in Bulgaria longer than three months are issued residence certificates.
Both the residence permits for Foreigners and the certificates for European citizens are issued by the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and can be divided into two groups long-term and permanent ones.
Long-term residence permits up to one year
Permanent residence permits for anindefinite period of time
The most common grounds for issuance of long-term residence permits are:
- The Foreigner is a member of the management or supervisory bodies of a Bulgarian company, provided that such company has employed at least 10 Bulgarian nationals
- The Foreigner is a trade representative of a company registered with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
- The Foreigner has been issued a work permit by the Bulgarian Employment Agency
The Foreign Nationals Act provides for specifi c grounds for obtaining a long-term residence permit by Foreigners who have been granted long-term residence permit in a member state of the European Union. The long-term residence permits for such Foreigners are issued for a term of fi ve years.
In order to apply for a residence permit the Foreigner should initially obtain a long-stay visa.
The documents required for issuance of a long-term residence permit are as follows: (i) the valid international passport of the applicant; (ii) document evidencing that the applicant has been provided with a place to live during his/ her stay in Bulgaria (e.g. rental contract); (iii) a standard application form; (iv) document evidencing of payment of the relevant state fees, and (v) document evidencing that the applicant has suffi cient fi nancial means to meet the costs of his/her stay in Bulgaria. Additional documents may be required depending on the specifi c ground for issuance of the permit.
The application for obtaining a long-term residence permit must be fi led before the Migration Directorate not later than 7 days prior to the expiration of the term of the long-stay visa. Applications are considered and reviewed within 7 working days of their submission and the decision of the Migration Directorate is then presented in writing to the applicant.
The long-term residence permit can be renewed if the grounds for its issuance still exist at the time of the renewal. It should be noted that an extension of the long-term residence permit can be refused if it is established that the Foreigner has not stayed on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for at least 6 months and one day during the preceding calendar year.
Once the Foreigner has been granted a long-term residence permit, he/she may live, reside and travel in the Republic of Bulgaria while the permit is valid. The Foreigner may freely choose and change his/her place of residence, or leave the country and enter it again.
Foreigners who have obtained a long-term residence permit have all the rights and obligations granted to or imposed on the Bulgarian citizens, with the exception of such rights and obligations for which Bulgarian citizenship is required. For example, they can be employed by Bulgarian employers, receive social security compensations, health care insurance, etc. Long-term residence status for a foreign citizen is usually evidenced by the issuance of a Bulgarian ID card for the foreign national.Permanent residence permits are issued to Foreigners: (i) of Bulgarian descent, (ii) who have been married for more than five years to a Foreigner with permanent residence in Bulgaria, (iii) who have resided within the territory of Bulgaria on a legal ground without interruption during the preceding five years, etc.
- Long-term residence certificates up to five years
- Permanent residence certificates for an indefinite period of time
- The most common grounds for issuance of long-term residence certificates are:
- The European citizen is employed or self-employed in the Republic of Bulgaria
- The European citizen has medical insurance and enough financial resources to cover the expenses for his/her residence and that of the family members without having recourse to the Bulgarian social security system, and
- The European citizen has enrolled in a school/college/university in Bulgaria for study, including professional training, and has medical insurance and enough financial resources to cover his/her expenses, etc.
In order to apply for a residence certificate the European citizen should submit an application to the Migration Directorate within three months after his/her first entry in the Republic of Bulgaria.
The documents which should be enclosed to the application are as follows:
(i) a valid identity card or a passport of the applicant; (ii) documents evidencing the existence of the ground on which the European citizen applies for his/her residence certificate (e.g. labour contract, valid medical insurance, documents proving the current education, etc.); еvidencing the payment of the relevant state fee, and (iii) evidence that the applicant has sufficient financial means to meet the costs of his/her stay in Bulgaria (if required). Additional documents may be required depending on the specific ground for issuance of the permit.
Applications are considered and reviewed and the certificate should be issued on the day of submitting the application. The certificate contains the full name of the person and the registration date.
In case some of the necessary documents are missing or not valid, the European citizen shall be granted a seven-day term to correct them. If the person fails to correct the omissions within this term the competent authority shall deny the issuance of a long-term residence certificate.
The right of entry and the right of residence in the Republic of Bulgaria of a European citizen may be restricted in exceptional cases and on grounds related to national security, public order or public health.
Permanent residence certificates are issued to European citizens who have resided continuously in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of five years and who meet other special requirements set forth in the law.
Work permits. General rules
Foreigners may work in Bulgaria only after obtaining a work permit, unless otherwise stipulated by the law. The bases for obtaining a work permit are an employment contract, or a business trip to undertake certain activities.
As from the date of joining of Bulgaria the EU European citizens may be employed, self-employed or commissioned to a business trip and may work in Bulgaria without restrictions and without the need of work permits.
Work permits required for Foreigners should be requested by the local employer and are issued by the Bulgarian Employment Agency. A number of legal terms and conditions must be met for the permit to be issued. Work permits are issued for a maximum duration of 1 year. If the terms and conditions for its issuance are still valid, the work permit may be renewed for an additional one-year term.
Foreign nationals who generally do not require a work permit in Bulgaria
Outlined below is a list of the main categories of foreign nationals who may work in Bulgaria without a work permit:
- Managers of companies or branches of foreign legal entities
- Members of the Managing Board or Board of Directors of local companies, who are not employed on a labour contract
- Trade representatives of foreign companies registered at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and
- Foreign nationals with permanent residence in Bulgaria.
Organisations that can assist with Emigration and Visas
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