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Visa, Entry and Stay in Bulgaria

The legal status of foreign nationals in Bulgaria is governed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria...

1. General principles
The legal status of foreign nationals in Bulgaria is governed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (1998), the Regulation on the Application of the Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (2011), the Ordinance on the Terms and Procedure for Issuing Visas and Determination of the Visa Regime (2011), Law on Entry, Residence and Departure of European Union Citizens and Members of Their Families from the Republic of Bulgaria (2007) and the Ordinance on the Terms and Procedure for Issuing of Work Permits to Foreign Nationals in Bulgaria (2002). Generally, the Bulgarian legislation concerning foreign citizens is in compliance with the EU acquis communautaire related to immigration policy. Effective from 31 January 2012, Bulgaria unilaterally applies the Schengen acquis.
The legal status of the citizens of any of the Member States of the European Union, the States which are parties to the European Economic Area Agreement and the Swiss Confederation (hereinafter “European citizens”) in Bulgaria is governed by the Law on Entry, Residence and Departure of European Union Citizens and Members of Their Families from the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as by the applicable Acts of the EU legislation.
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 basis (in any case 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.
Foreigners may work in Bulgaria only after obtaining a work permit, unless otherwise stipulated by the law.
2. Visas
According to the effective Bulgarian legislation, Foreigners who are citizens of certain counties must obtain a visa before entering the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. The visa is a clearance, issued to the Foreigners, for entry and stay on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for a certain period of time.
On the grounds of a resolution of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers until the date of Bulgaria’s full accession to the Schengen zone, Bulgaria shall unilaterally apply a visa-free system for holders of valid Schengen visas and residence permits, and thus Bulgaria shall apply the Schengen acquis. Effective from 31 January 2012 holders of Schengen visas and/or residence permits shall be allowed to enter and reside short term in the Republic of Bulgaria without needing to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa.
Foreigners who are exempt from the requirement for obtaining a visa can enter and stay in the Republic of Bulgaria without visa for up to 90 days within a period of six months, starting from the date of the first entrance. The entry and the short-term residence in Bulgaria of holders of Schengen visas and/or residence permits is limited to the period and the entries allowed in the respective visa/permit, but in any case holders of such documents may not reside in Bulgaria for more than 90 days in any six-month period from the date of first entry.
The Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act provides for the following main visa categories: air 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 from date of issuance. A Foreigner travelling with an air transit visa is treated as not admitted to the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
A short-stay visa is issued to a Foreigner for the purposes of transit or planned stay on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. The short-stay visa can be issued as one-entry, two-entry or multiple-entry visa. The term of validity of the short-stay visa and the allowed period of stay are determined on the basis of examination of the conditions of entry and risk assessment during the examination of the visa application. The term of validity of the short-stay visa cannot exceed five years.
A short-stay visa for planned stay allows a Foreigner single or multiple entries into Bulgaria for up to 90 days within a period of six months, counting from the date of the first entry on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. This type of visa is issued to Foreigners who wish to enter and stay in Bulgaria for the purpose of short-term personal, business or other related visits. The purpose of the visits is usually proved with written invitations.
A long-stay visa allows a Foreigner to enter Bulgaria and thereafter to apply for a residence permit in order to stay long term in the country. The validity of the long-stay visa is 6 (six) months and it allows its holder of stay up to 180 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.).
The long-stay visa allows its holder multiple entries to the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria within its validity term.
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 a certain country, visa applications can be submitted to such authorities of a Member State of the European Union, with which Bulgaria has an agreement for representation in acceptance of visa applications and issuance of visas. In exceptional cases (e.g. the state’s interest or extraordinary circumstances) border control officers can issue single short-stay visas for transit with an allowed period of stay not exceeding two days, unless an international agreement provides otherwise, and single short-stay visas for planned stay with an allowed period of stay of up to 15 days. The State Agency “National Security” shall be immediately notified of the issuance of such visas.
An important condition upon applying for a visa is the passport of the applicant to be in compliance with certain requirements of the law, namely: (i) the validity term of the passport shall expire at least three months after the planned date of leaving the territory of Bulgaria, (ii) the passport shall have at least to two empty pages, and (iii) the passport is issued within the past 10 years.
European citizens who wish to enter and stay in Bulgaria do not need a visa. They enter and leave the country with a valid identity card or 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.
3. Residence permits, residence certificates and residence cards
Foreigners who wish to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis (in any case more than three months within each six-month period) should apply for and obtain a residence permit.

European citizens who intend to stay in Bulgaria longer than three months are issued residence certificates.

Family members of European citizens, who are not European citizens themselves, who wish to reside in Bulgaria for a period longer than three months, should be granted residence permits and should obtain residence cards.

The residence permits for Foreigners, the certificates for European citizens and the residence cards for European citizens’ family members who are not European citizens themselves, are issued by the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

 

3.1. Residence permits
The Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act provides for three types of residence permits:
A. Extended residence permit – with a term of validity of up to one year
B. Long-term EU residence permit – for initial period of five years and option for renewal, and
C. Permanent residence permit – for an indefinite period of time.
In order to apply for an extended or permanent residence permit the Foreigner should initially obtain a long-stay visa.
The most common grounds for issuance of extended 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 foreign company registered with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and
The Foreigner has been issued a work permit by the Bulgarian Employment Agency.
The extended residence permit can be renewed, if the grounds for its issuance still exist at the time of the renewal.

Once the Foreigner is granted an extended 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 an extended 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.
Foreigners who have been granted status of a long-term resident in the Republic of Bulgaria can obtain long-term EU residence permits. Long-term resident status can be granted to Foreigners who have resided legally and continuously (i.e. uninterruptedly) on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for five years prior to the submission of the application for obtaining a long-term residence status. The expiration of the validity term of a long term EU residence permit does not result in losing the long-term resident status.
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 a permanent residence status in Bulgaria and have resided legally and continuously on the territory of Bulgaria for a period of five years, (iii) minor or underage children of a Foreigner with permanent residence status in Bulgaria, who are not married, (iv) members of the family of a Bulgarian citizen, if they have resided continuously on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria in the last five years, etc. Permanent residence permits are issued also to Foreigners who have made certain investments in Bulgaria, such being Foreigners (i) who have invested in Bulgaria over BGN 1,000,000 (one million Bulgarian Leva) or have increased their investment with such amount, through acquisition of shares in Bulgarian companies which are traded on the Bulgarian stock exchange, through acquisition of rights under concession agreements on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, or through acquisition of other securities or rights explicitly provided by the law, or (ii) who have invested in Bulgaria over BGN 6,000,000 (six million Bulgarian Leva) in the capital of a Bulgarian company whose shares are not traded on the Bulgarian stock exchange.
The extended, long-term or permanent residence status of a Foreigner is evidenced by the issuance of a Bulgarian residence document evidencing the right of residence in the Republic of Bulgaria, which can be in the form of a residence permit or a residence card.
3.2. Residence certificates
European citizens are issued two types of residence certificates:
A. Long-term residence certificate – with a term of validity of up to five years, and
B. Permanent residence certificate – for an indefinite period of time.
The 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 sufficient financial resources to cover the expenses for his/her residence and that of the family members without being a burden 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 sufficient financial resources to cover his/her expenses and that of the family members without being a burden to the Bulgarian social security system.
In order to apply for a long-term residence certificate, the European citizen should submit an application to the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Internal Affairs within three months after his/her first entry in the Republic of Bulgaria.
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 or who meet other special requirements set forth in the law. In order to apply for a permanent residence certificate, the European citizen should submit an application to the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Internal Affairs enclosing document evidencing the necessary circumstances.
3.3. Residence cards
Members of the family of European citizens, who are not European citizens themselves, are entitled to obtain an extended or permanent residence permit in the Republic of Bulgaria, on the basis of the their relation with the European citizen.
Foreigner, who has obtained a residence permit in Bulgaria on that ground, is issued a Bulgarian residence document evidencing his/her right of residence in the Republic of Bulgaria. The residence document is in the form of a residence card.

Source: www.realbulgaria.eu

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