Bulgarian residency and citizenship for a foreigner who is married to a Bulgarian citizen
QUESTION: I hold Bulgarian passport and live in Dubai with my husband. I married him (Turkish citizen) seven years ago in Turkey. Our marriage had been registered with Kardjali Municipality of Bulgaria. Do you have consultancy services for obtaining residency for my husband in Bulgaria? Is there any chance for him to get Bulgarian passport? If we decide to move to any European Country and I will deliver our baby there, is there any chance to get passport of the residing country for the baby?
Some of the details in this article have been deliberately changed in order to protect our client’s privacy.
From what we understood so far: Your husband has Turkish citizenship while you have dual citizenship – Bulgarian (EU) and Turkish. You have been married 7 years ago in Turkey and your marriage has been recently registered in Bulgaria. You are considering eventually giving birth to your baby in an EU country.
The questions to be addressed are:
- What are the possibilities for your husband to obtain Bulgarian residency?
- What are the possibilities for your husband to obtain Bulgarian citizenship (Bulgarian passport)?
- If you give birth to your baby in European country, what are the possibilities to obtain the nationality of this particular country for your baby?
1. As your husband is non-EU citizen, its legal status in Bulgaria is covered by the Bulgarian “Law for the foreigners”. The latest redaction of 2016 of Art.24(1), p.18 of the said law foresees that “permit for prolonged residency” (residency permit) can be obtained by foreigners who hold visa type D, are family members of Bulgarian citizen and the originating from abroad documents (proving the family relation) are recognized and registered as per Bulgarian law. Art.2(3), p.1 from the “Law for the foreigners” logically defines the husband/wife as being “family” members. Your marriage certificate has been already registered in Bulgaria and with that in mind, the conditions of the legal norm are fulfilled. We must also add that your husband has to apply in the Bulgarian embassy in the UAE for his long term visa as per art.15 of the “Law for the foreigners”, based on his intention to obtain residency in Bulgaria as being your legal spouse. Once the residence permit is issued in Bulgaria, the visa will be cancelled (such will be not required anymore).
For the purposes of the legal residency, your husband will need to prove that your marriage is real (which should be no problem, provided you have been married for 7 years already), that he has sufficient funds to support himself while in Bulgaria, an address in Bulgaria where he intends to live together with you as well as to purchase compulsory health insurance in Bulgaria.
There are naturally other options in order to obtain Bulgarian residency, but this one is the most straightforward and legally logic in your particular case.
2. Bulgarian nationality and passport can be obtained by ancestry (art.8 and 9 from the “Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship”), by place of birth (art.10 and 11 of the law) and by naturalization (art.12 to art.19 of the said law). As we are unaware of any facts suggesting that your husband is of Bulgarian ancestry or has been born in Bulgaria, the only remaining option is the naturalization.
There are different naturalization options, but in your husband’s case, only two are feasible:
Naturalization by investment – requires investment in Bulgaria (refundable investment, not a fee) of a total of 2 million Bulgarian Leva. The great advantage of this option is that your husband will obtain permanent residency (not a mere long term residency) almost immediately and then in a little bit more than one year, he will receive his full Bulgarian citizenship and passport, which will enable him visa free travel to most places worldwide, right to reside and work anywhere in the EU, etc. For more detailed information about this option, please visit our website about Bulgarian citizenship by investment.
Naturalization after living in the country for certain period of time. Art.12(1) from the “Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship” foresees that Bulgarian citizenship can be obtained by a person who is of legal age, has received a permit for permanent residency in Bulgaria more than 5 years ago, has no criminal convictions, has suitable profession in order to support himself in Bulgaria, has knowledge of Bulgarian language (to be proved by passing an exam), etc. The main condition here is obviously the person to have been granted permanent residency status for 5 or more years. Art.25(1), p.11 form the “Law for the foreigners” states that permanent residency can be granted to foreigners who are family members of Bulgarian citizen (your husband’s hypothesis) if they have been living in the country permanently during the last 5 years. As you can see, your husband needs to live in Bulgaria permanently for 5 years and only then he can be granted with permanent residency. Then, after another 5 years, he will be eligible for Bulgarian citizenship. This makes a total of at least 10 years before a formal application for naturalization can be submitted. There is one exception that may apply to your husband’s case – art.25(1), p.4 of the Law says that the period to obtain permanent residency is only 3 years if the person has been living constantly in the country, is a parent of Bulgarian citizen (which may be the case after you give birth to your child) and is providing the legally required financial support (to the Bulgarian child). Under this assumption, the waiting period for the citizenship may be eventually shortened to 8 years.
Our personal opinion is that if you have the financial backing to apply for investment citizenship, it is the best option for you to secure the opportunity of visa free travel and EU residency and working rights to your husband.
3. No matter in which country you will give birth to your baby, it will be automatically eligible for Bulgarian citizenship as is stipulated in art.8 of the “Law for the Bulgarian citizenship”. It states, that “Bulgarian citizen by ancestry is everyone, whose one parent (at least) is Bulgarian citizen”. This is precisely your situation. Bulgarian citizenship provides unrestricted rights EU wide and is of equal value to any other EU nationality, so we urge you to take advantage of this legal norm.
Although all EU countries have slightly different citizenship laws, they are all subject to similar EU-wide legal principles. Such is the one defined in art.10 of the “Law for the Bulgarian citizenship”, stating that “Bulgarian citizen by birth (place of birth) is everyone, born in Bulgaria, if he doesn’t get another citizenship by ancestry”. This norm, accepted by the other EU counties will mean in plain English that if you give birth in an EU country, in order for your child to become citizen of that particular country, it must not be getting another citizenship by ancestry (ie Bulgarian in your case). This norm can be slightly different from country to country though.