Annoying requirement, but can we go without it?
Many customers are annoyed by the requirement to present certificate for lack of criminal convictions when applying for residence permit. Especially US clients have serious issues, as they often apply for this certificate through the FBI and the procedure is quite complicated. Another problem is the requirement for the criminal record to be certified with apostille.
So is the requirement for clean criminal record absolute and can it be legally circumvented? Let’s dig into the legal details.
Clean criminal record for long term residence permit – the legalities
The first and most important legal requirement is in Art. 24 of the Bulgarian foreigners law. The relevant text stipulates that:
When submitting an application for the issuance of an initial residence permit… foreigners who have reached the age of 18,… also present documents for a criminal record or for a criminal or police registration, issued according to the legislation of the country of citizenship, to the country of origin or habitual residence.
Art. 24 (2) of the Foreigners Law (edited)
Virtually identical requirements are foreseen in Art. 24b, 24v and 24i.
In other words, the applicant for (initial) Bulgarian long term residence permit has to provide certificate for lack of criminal convictions.
From which country should be issued the clean criminal record?
This is the most controversial issue. The law stipulates that the criminal record must be issued from either:
country of citizenship; or;
country of origin, or;
place of habitual residence.
Suppose a Cuban born person has obtained US citizenship later in his life. In the past few years (or months) he has been living in Germany. So what criminal record should he provide? Cuban, American or German? In fact, no matter how ridiculous it is, he may provide any of those. But why ridiculous?
Because if he provides Cuban certificate, it will have zero real value. The person may have left Cuba 50 years ago and logically, the chances of having criminal record there are close to zero. It is another question whether the Cuban authorities will ever consider issuing such certificate to an immigrant, who has left Cuba so long ago.
If the person provides US criminal record, it will be outdated, because the last years the applicant has been living in Germany.
And if the applicant provides German criminal record, it will be not “complete”. This is because the German state will only mention sentences from the last years when the person has been living in Germany. Any previous sentences (ie from the USA) will be missing from this certificate.
How people are trying to circumvent the system
Some applicants for Bulgarian residence are believing that they may provide clean criminal record from a random country. Such certificate will definitely be clean of any criminals sentences as the person has nothing to do with this country anyway. Usually however, a country will only issue criminal record to its citizens of residents. Still, there may be some countries that will, eventually for certain incentive, issue clean criminal record to a foreigner that has never lived there.
So what will happen if an applicant for residence permit provides such certificate?
The Bulgarian authorities will reject it. In order for this certificate to be accepted, the person will need to provide residence permit from this country, showing that he has been living there for certain period of time. Otherwise, the certificate will be rejected.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.