Who is considered to be a family member of Bulgarian citizen according to the Bulgarian Foreigners Law?

Those who are considered to be members of the family of Bulgarian citizen are defined in the Foreigners’ Law. We will today focus only on the spouse and the children and will explain why is there a problem with the law.

The controversies of the Bulgarian Foreigners’ Law

Family members of a Bulgarian citizen within the meaning of this law are the persons who are living with him in the same household and are:

  1. spouse;
  2. descendants, including the descendants of the spouse, who are younger than 21 and are not married.
art. 2, par. 6, p.1,2 of the Foreigners Law

As the family members of Bulgarian citizens can obtain visa D and long-term residence permit, it is important to comprehend who they are.

Foreigners who are family members of a Bulgarian citizen can obtain a long-term residence permit.

art. 24, par. 1, p. 18 of the Foreigners Law (shortened)

So what is the problem with the Foreigners Law? Why do we believe that from legal point of view, the authorities can always reject an application for visa D under the said legal norm?

Living in the same household – what is this supposed to mean?

As we can see above, in order for a foreigner to be considered to be a family member of Bulgarian citizen, they must be living in the same household. So here comes the legal controversy, much like the chicken or the egg paradox.

Immigration visa D and residence permit

The problem is that the foreigner can obtain Bulgarian visa D if he is considered to be family member of Bulgarian citizen. For this to happen, they must be living in the same household. But for this to happen, they must be living together. By “living together” is to be understood a long-term co-habitance. But such long-term co-habitance is only possible if the foreigner holds long-term residence permit. And by default, the foreigner can’t even visit Bulgaria without visa D. So how are the spouses supposed to be living in the same household if the foreigner doesn’t even have a visa?

One could argue that the Bulgarian spouse can be with his/her wife/husband in his/her home country. But by analogy to the Bulgarian legislation, the foreign legal regime would require similar documents from the Bulgarian spouse. So what then?

And last, but not least, what if the couple has just married and haven’t been living together at all? Then what? Is the foreigner considered to be member of the family of Bulgarian citizen? Or if a father of Bulgarian child is divorced with the mother? He can’t even get a visa to come to Bulgaria and see his child…

The law needs an update

The Foreigners Law definitely needs a facelift. Unfortunately it is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, our battles in the Court of Law continue. The Law needs to be obeyed, but at times it’s not easy to even comprehend it.

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