Investors with permanent residence permit are given the opportunity to apply for Bulgarian citizenship

The Golden Passports, or the fast-track Bulgarian citizenship for investments, was finally canceled in 2022. For certain category of investors however, this option still exists, thanks to a special legal provision from 2021.

A person who, before the entry into force of this law, received a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria on the basis of Art. 25, par. 1, p. 6 and 7 of the Law on Foreigners in Bulgaria in accordance with the provisions of the law in force at the time of application, has the right to submit an application for the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship, if he meets the conditions under Art. 12, par. 1, p. 1, 2, 3 and 4 and provided that the investment made by him has been maintained for a period of not less than 5 years.

§ 14, par. 1 from the Transitional and final provisions to the Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship (referred here as to the special provisions)
Yoana Dobrinova map EU and Bulgarian passport

It should be noted that in order to comply with the cited provisions, the applicant should fulfill certain requirements, which we will discuss in future articles. The question that we will discuss today is:

Should the investment be maintained at the time of applying for citizenship?

As can be seen from the cited provision, the legislator is using the wording:

the investment made by him has been maintained for a period of not less than 5 years

Grammatical interpretation

“has been maintained” ≠ “is maintained”

Analyzing the law grammatically, we believe that the correct interpretation is in the sense that the investment should have been maintained for a minimum period of 5 years, but there is no condition that the investment is available at the time of submitting the application for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship. Otherwise, the legislator would have used another wording, for example “the investment made by him is maintained for a period…“.

In fact, after a full analysis of the use of the term “has been (maintained)” in other provisions of the Citizenship Law, a conclusion can be made that the legislator even assumed that the investment is not (should not be) available at the time of the application. For example, the term “has been” is also used in the provision of Art. 29 of the Citizenship Law, regarding whether the applicant for Bulgarian citizenship by origin:

originates from a settlement that has been part of the Bulgarian state in the past or the Bulgarian Exarchate;

art. 29, par. 6, p. 2 from the Citizenship Law

It can be seen that the “settlement” was once (in the past) a part of the Bulgarian state, but at the moment, it certainly is no longer. The provision about the “investment” should be interpreted by analogy. Namely in the sense that it (the investment) must have been maintained for a minimum of 5 years, but at the moment (may) not be (maintained).

You can contact us if you have any questions about this legal norm. As well as regarding who can obtain Bulgarian citizenship for investments.

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