Brits may not enter Bulgaria if they have been already in the country for 90 days
UK passport holders are already experiencing the consequences of Brexit. In Bulgaria, from the beginning of this year, UK citizens are regarded as “third country” nationals. Their rights of entry and stay in Bulgaria are now regulated by the Foreigners Law, rather than by the laws that apply to EU citizens.
This wouldn’t be a big deal for those who travel on “bad” passports, such as Pakistani or Indians. But for the people of the UK, once part of the EU, this comes a bit of “too much” already.
UK students – the first victims of Brexit
British students are among the first ones to experience how hard it is to live in Europe as third country national. Many of the students in Bulgaria were ignorant of the legislation and were studying without any sort of residence permit. While the UK was in the EU, this was perfectly possible and nobody really bothered checking their immigration status. Now they are being denied entry into the country on basis of art.10 of the foreigners law:
A visa or entry into the country of a foreigner shall be refused when he / she has already resided on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for 90 days within the last 180 days as a holder of a short-stay visa or under the conditions of visa-free regime for short-term residence;Art.10 (1), p.18 of the Law on the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria
UK pensioners – the next group of victims
The students are already feeling the consequences of Brexit, because they travel. Therefore, at the border, when they try to return to Bulgaria, some are denied entry. Many of the British pensioners who are living in Bulgaria however, don’t have a clue what’s in store for them. What they don’t know is that they may have seriously violated the immigration laws already. Many of them never arranged any sort of legal residency in Bulgaria. This was not a problem, for as far as the UK was in the EU. The pensioners, who relocated to Bulgaria in the last 15 years, had no money, nor desire, to engage in formalistic procedures in order to obtain a “useless” residence permit for yet another EU country. This omission will now cost them dearly, we are afraid.
Extraditions on the horizon
We have reasons to believe that gradually all (illegal) foreigners of third countries (UK included) will be forced to either leave the country or legalize their stay. The cost for legalizing the stay may be way too high for many though. The immigration authorities in Bulgaria will cut no corners and will enforce the immigration laws on all illegal foreigners. We are already witnessing an unseen effort by the relevant bodies into extraditing people, even such with strong family ties with Bulgaria. The fate of those without families in Bulgaria is uncertain as ever.
What to do if you are UK citizen and have no legal residency in Bulgaria yet
In all cases, you must act proactively. If you think that from 01.01.2021 nothing has changed in Bulgaria for you, think again. Under the foreigners law, you may be fined, denied entry or even extradited from Bulgaria and banned from reentering. Act now and contact us for professional assistance.