Should the Bulgarian embassies reject to accept visa D application if they deem the presented documents not to be in order?
Imagine the following situation. Our client, an applicant for Bulgarian visa D, based on Bulgarian origin, is attempting to submit his documents at the Bulgarian embassy in the USA.
Rejected at the counter?!
Initially our client is rejected (he is not allowed to even file his application) right at the counter of the embassy. As he informed us, he has been told that there is no such legal ground anymore, namely visa D based on Bulgarian origin. Only after we intervene and have a long telephone conversation with the consular representative (presumably, as we are unaware of his identity), our client’s documents are accepted.
Friendly and helpful
We have to say that the consular representative was very friendly and willing to help, which we really appreciate and use this opportunity to thank him. But does it have to go that far? Should the Bulgarian embassies/consulates take things in their hands and decide on the spot about the legal conformity of the visa D applications? And most importantly, what does the Bulgarian law say about it? Let’s find out.
Visa D based on Bulgarian origin
The legal ground for the visa application of our client is his Bulgarian origin, namely:
A long-term residence visa (AKA visa D) with a validity period of up to 6 months and a right of residence of up to 180 days can be issued to a foreigner who wishes to obtain a long-term, prolonged-term or permanent residence permit in Bulgaria on one of the grounds specified in this law.
Foreigners of Bulgarian origin can obtain a permanent residence permit.Art. 15 & Art. 25, par. 1, p. 1 of the Foreigners Law
In other words, foreigners who are of Bulgarian origin are entitled to obtain Bulgarian permanent residence permit. And as they are entitled to permanent residence permit, they can also obtain Bulgarian visa D. Simple, isn’t it.
To obtain permanent residence, in order to prove his Bulgarian origin, the foreigner has to submit a birth certificate (art. 35, par. 1 of the Regulations to the Foreigners Law). For the application for visa D, the foreigner has to submit:
When submitting an application for visa D, the applicant submits documents and copies of them, substantiating the request for visa D in accordance with the Foreigners Law and the Regulations to the Foreigners Law.Art. 19, p. 2 of the Visa Ordinance
So it becomes clear as the sky over Houston, that:
So what is the problem of the Bulgarian embassy in the USA?
The “problem” of the Bulgarian embassy is that, a long-long time ago, there were certain legal provisions that Bulgarian origin was proven by means of certificate, issued by the State Agency for Bulgarians abroad. These provisions were cancelled many years ago, something that the Embassy knows very well. But obviously some people at our embassies and consulates, just can’t live without it. No certificate from the Agency for Bulgarians abroad – no Bulgarian origin, so they think. The fact that such requirement and even possibility, doesn’t exist anymore, is making these people… nervous.
The conversation with the Bulgarian embassy
So here is very approximately (and briefly) how the telephone conversation between us and the Bulgarian embassy in the USA went:
Bulgarian embassy: We can’t accept the visa D application of your client. He doesn’t have certificate from the Bulgarian Agency for Bulgarians abroad, showing that he is of Bulgarian origin!
Posolstvo.eu: But you know that the “Bulgarian origin certificate from the Bulgarian Agency for Bulgarians abroad” is, by law, not required since many years already?
Bulgarian embassy: Yes, we know that! And we see that your client has a birth certificate.
Posolstvo.eu: Yes, the birth certificate is required by law and in this case, it serves as proof of Bulgarian origin. You must accept it, file the visa D application and let the authorities in Bulgaria decide on it, as it is required by law. If you don’t accept the application, you are depriving the applicant from his right to appeal eventual rejection in the Bulgarian court.
Bulgarian embassy: Yes, we understand that, but if there is no “Bulgarian origin certificate from the Bulgarian Agency for Bulgarians abroad”, we don’t know what needs to be submitted. We kinda don’t like the birth certificate as it is not issued in Bulgaria.
Posolstvo.eu: Ok, you say you know that there is no more “origin certificate”. And you don’t know what serves as proof of origin. So what would you accept for the purpose? If you don’t like the birth certificate, what would you be willing to accept, even theoretically? If you don’t know what you want and you are not accepting anything, then you are basically saying that art. 25, par. 1, p. 1 of the Foreigners Law can’t be applied? This is ridiculous!
Bulgarian embassy: Well, we don’t know really… Let me talk with my colleagues and we will see what we will do…
The happy end, or not yet?
Luckily, after our intervention and the kind assistance of the consular representative, our client’s documents were accepted. We once again want to thank the Bulgarian embassy in the USA for their willingness to listen to us. This is not something that we experience every day with the Bulgarian authorities. They usually only listen after they receive the ultimate decision from the Supreme Court. But this is what we are here for – to work for and defend our customers.
And in order not to go into any similar “conversations” in future, we would like to remind the Bulgarian consular officials around the world about their rights and obligations:
Consular officials issue or refuse to issue a long-term residence visa (visa D) after permission from the Directorate of Consular Relations…Art. 30, par. 2 of the Visa Ordinance
In other words, or at least this is how we believe that it should be:
It is not the authority of the Bulgarian consulates to reject (or to approve) the visa D application. This should be done by the Directorate of Consular Relations. This will also guarantee that the applicant can also appeal eventual rejection in the court of law. Any rejections over the counter by not accepting the application are, in our opinion, illegal!