How important it is to state the truth, and nothing by the truth, when applying for Bulgarian Citizenship (by Investment)
Article 22 (1)* from the Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship stipulates that the Bulgarian citizenship can be canceled (withdrawn) in cases when the person:
- Has provided data or facts, upon which the citizenship has been granted, which are later being proven in the Court of Law to be incorrect and/or;
- Has concealed data or facts, which if were known, would have resulted in the citizenship not to be granted.
* There is also a p.3 in the above article, but it is not subject of this post.
Let’s dive into the legal stuff more deeply
How can one get his Bulgarian citizenship withdrawn if he hasn’t provided the correct information during the process of naturalization
Even for the legally illiterate, the meaning of Art.22 of the Bulgarian citizenship law is quite clear. Basically, if you have concealed some information, or have provided false statements prior to obtaining it, your Bulgarian citizenship can be cancelled.
First and foremost – both conditions in p.1 and p.2 are non-imperative. The law states that the “citizenship CAN (or may) be cancelled”. Should the wording used was “WILL be cancelled”, then we would have the so-called imperative hypothesis. So far, so good. It means that even if it becomes apparent that there are concealed or untrue facts being presented during the naturalization process, the citizenship may be still retained, eventually.
The legal practice in Bulgaria and the case law
So what does history tell us? What are the Bulgarian authorities doing when they find out that certain citizenship application is based on (partially) wrong (or concealed) data?
In virtually all cases, an immediate procedure for cancellation of the citizenship is launched! Period. The authorities in Bulgaria are in fact automatically firing all required procedures and are depriving the person from his citizenship rights.
The difference between the two hypotheses (p.1 and p.2)
The main difference is that p.1 refers to non vital facts and data upon which the citizenship has been granted. While not vital, the (untrue or concealed) facts should have been of importance for the approval of the citizenship application. However they don’t need to be of such an importance that their (true) declaration would have resulted into the citizenship being declined.
At the same time, p.2. makes references to untrue or concealed facts and data of much greater importance. The importance should be of such magnitude, that, if the true data had been known, the citizenship would have not been granted.
Another important difference is, that the less important data or facts as per p.1 need to be proven in the Court of Law. The more severe untrue or concealed data as per p.2 doesn’t need to be confirmed by the Court. This is the trade-off between the two hypotheses.
Some examples of how can one lose (or not) his Bulgarian citizenship as per Article 22 (1), p.1 and p.2
South African obtains Bulgarian Citizenship
John has obtained Bulgarian citizenship after 5 year of permanent residency in the country. He has not surrendered his South African citizenship, as is the legal requirement in his case. Somehow however, he has convinced the Bulgarian authorities that he has.
Have you guessed it already? In this case, once the Bulgarian authorities find out about his existing South African citizenship, he will be immediately deprived from his Bulgarian passport according to p.2. There will be no need to prove in the Court of Law that his SA citizenship still exists, because its existence would have been the reason not to approve his Bulgarian citizenship application.
Resident of Hong Kong with HKSAR passport and BN(O) nationality/passport obtains Bulgarian Citizenship
Iris has obtained Bulgarian citizenship by investment. She has concealed the fact that she holds BN(O) passport and has declared that she only holds HKSAR passport for her application.
note: BN(O) stands for British National Overseas, nationality status given to some residents of Hong Kong. HKSAR stands for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and is the “usual” status granted to residents of Hong Kong. People are allowed to hold both BN(O) and HKSAR passports at the same time.
In this case unfortunately, Iris will also lose her Bulgarian citizenship when the Bulgarian authorities find out about her BN(O) passport. The most unfortunate is that should she has declared she is British Overseas national, her Bulgarian citizenship applications should have been approved without any issues. She has however obtained Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds that she holds HKSAR passport (non-EU, which is prerequisite of the CBI program) and that she has made the relevant investment.
The reality however is that she also holds BN(O) passport. Although the BN(O) passport is still a non- EU passport and even the HKSAR and BN(O) passports together, they still qualify for the Bulgarian CBI program, the concealing of her other passport changes the formal grounds for her application (to be non-EU citizen, to make the required investment, etc.). Under the terms of p.2, the Bulgarian authorities will need to prove that Iris holds BN(O) passport as well, but this will be done in the shortest terms possible. Once the Court ruling is enforced, Iris will be deprived of her Bulgarian citizenship.
You can read more about the procedures of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship for residents of Hong Kong at http://blog.bulgarian-citizenship.org/category/hong-kong/
Citizen of Russia obtains Bulgarian Citizenship
Igor, citizen of Russia residing in Germany has obtained Bulgarian citizenship by investment. During the application, he has falsely declared that he resides in Russia.
In this case neither the terms of p.1 nor p.2 can be applied. While Igor has formally lied about his residency, under the Bulgarian CBI, the place of residency is not a ground to obtain citizenship. Nor would be his German place of residency a reason to decline his Bulgarian citizenship application.
So luckily for Igor, in this scenario, he will retain his Bulgarian passport.
He might be however subject to, alongside with Iris and John, criminal charges as per the Bulgarian Penal Code.
Penal responsibility for declaring false data
Another very important thing to consider is the criminal responsibility in Bulgaria for declaring false statements that are required by Bulgarian law. Art. 313 from the Bulgarian Penal Code foresee a jail term of up to 3 years plus a hefty penalty, so we would warn everybody to be extremely cautious if even considering signing false statements or declarations in Bulgaria and the EU.
Stay safe and stay legal! And good luck to everybody with your Bulgarian Citizenship applications! We are here to help and provide assistance to everybody, with legal compliance in mind.the team of Posolstvo.eu