Employing Bangladeshi workers in Bulgaria
Bulgaria has become extremely attractive for foreign workers in the last years. The amount of foreign applications through our office is at all time high in 2022. But is it easy to hire foreign low-skilled workers? How complicated is the process of employing foreigners in Bulgaria at all? Let’s find out.
As the majority of the enquiries are coming from Asian countries, we will take as example the procedures for hiring Bangladeshi workers. The legal conditions are still the same for all other non-EU candidates.
Your questions about the procedures to hire Bangladeshi workers in Bulgaria – answered
In this report we will answer some questions, related to the legal conditions for hiring Bangladeshi workers in Bulgaria.
Does the information that since this year work permits have also been issued for unskilled workers from Bangladesh correspond to reality? What are the requirements for obtaining a work permit in that case?
The Bulgarian law does not distinguish between unqualified and qualified workers. It only sets conditions and certain requirements for highly qualified workers (with university education). Anyone can apply for a work permit, regardless of nationality and education.
In other words, hiring low skilled workers has always been possible in Bulgaria. The procedures are still complicated, but the lack of local labor is making things a bit easier recently. The construction and the IT industry boom in Bulgaria is driving many businesses to seek foreign workforce. This is driving the administration to be more flexible as to meet the requirements of the businesses.
The required documents to obtain work permit in Bulgaria
The following documents must be prepared, as is foreseen in Art. 24i, par. 5 of the Foreigners Law:
- Justification of the request to obtain work permit, in which the employer must:
- explain the reason for the necessity to employ foreign worker;
- provide copies of job ads, showing that the employer has searched for local employees through the media;
- explain the reason why he doesn’t want to employ citizen of Bulgaria, the EU, the EEA or Switzerland.
- Documents for the education, specialty, legal capacity, professional qualification and experience of the worker. These documents must be legalized as per the relevant legislation, accompanied by a certified translation into Bulgarian and corresponding to the requirements for occupying the relevant position;
- Reference-declaration for the employed workers in the company. The document must show the number of the employed citizens of third countries. It must also specify the names according to passport, date of birth, citizenship, reason and period of residence;
- Declaration of the employer that the conditions of art. 7, para. 1, item 2 of the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Act are met. These are namely that the offered working and pay conditions are not less favorable than the conditions for Bulgarian citizens for the relevant category of work;
- A copy of a fixed-term employment contract, certified by the employer. The contract must be concluded under the terms of Bulgarian legislation. It must enter into force from the date of issue of the residence permit of the foreign worker. Also a copy of the job description must be presented. The national code of the job position must be referenced too;
- A copy of the page of the foreign travel document. The copy must show the page with the photograph and personal data of the foreign worker;
- Certificate for lack of criminal convictions;
- Proof for available housing in Bulgaria;
- Compulsory medical insurance, in case that the foreigner is not covered by the Bulgarian Health Insurance Act;
- Document that the conditions for exercising a profession included in the List of regulated professions in Bulgaria under Art. 3 of the Law on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications are met;
- Certificate-declaration, signed by the employer, about the average number of employees in the previous 12 months, specified by month. The document must show the following:
- Bulgarian citizens, citizens of the European Union, of a state party to the EEA, and Switzerland, including those with a long-term or permanent residence permit in Bulgaria, and their family members;
- foreigners granted the right to asylum or granted international protection in Bulgaria in accordance with the Law on Asylum and Refugees and their family members;
- foreigners for whom employment is foreseen according to an international agreement to which Bulgaria is a party;
- foreigners who are family members of Bulgarian citizens;
- foreigners who are family members of a citizen of a member state of the European Union, EAA, or Switzerland, who by virtue of concluded international treaties with the EU have the right to free movement;
- Other documents that are required according to the Bulgarian legislation for occupying the position specified by the employer.
If only skilled workers can obtain a work permit1, what is the criteria for being recognized as skilled.
1also known as the EU Blue Card
The law makes a distinction and sets a requirement only for highly qualified workers. Still, in many countries the terms skilled and highly qualified are often used interchangeably. Therefore we will explain what highly qualified means as per the legislation in Bulgaria. This is more precisely:
“Highly qualified employment” is the employment of a person who possesses the necessary competence for the relevant job – acquired higher education, which is certified by a diploma, certificate or other document issued by a competent authority after training lasting no less than three years conducted by an educational institution recognized as a higher education institution by the respective country. /essentially this is an university diploma/§1, p.1 of the Additional Provisions of the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Act
Additionally, as we will explain below, the highly qualified employee must receive a salary that is 50% higher than the average salary in Bulgaria.
Simplifications for the employer and benefits for the EU Blue Card holder
If an employer is hiring highly qualified employee, there are certain simplifications in the procedure. The employee, if approved, will obtain blue EU card with a validity of up to 4 years. The main advantage for the employer is that in this case, there is no quota for the maximum percentage of foreign workers in the company (either 20% or 35%). You can read more about the quotas below.
In order to qualify for the Blue EU card, the following conditions need to be met:
- The employee must have university degree, as previously explained, in order to qualify as highly qualified;
- The monthly salary to be at least 1,5 higher than the average salary in Bulgaria for the past 12 months;
- The labor contract needs to be concluded for a period of at least 12 months.
What documents are needed to hire skilled (highly qualified) employee?
The required documents to obtain EU Blue Card are foreseen in Art. 33k, par. 5 of the Foreigners Law. The documents, with some exceptions, are roughly the same as with those required to hire “non skilled” workers. These are namely:
- Criminal record certificate issued by the country of which the foreigner is a citizen or by the country of his habitual residence. This is required upon initial submission of an application for the issuance of the permit;
- Evidence of available housing in the country;
- Justification of the request. In the justification, the employer indicates the facts and circumstances necessitating the employment of the foreign worker. The employer also motivates his refusal to hire Bulgarian citizens or foreigners with rights equivalent to theirs with the requested profession, specialty and/or qualification that meet the requirements specified in the advertisement;
- Documents for the education, specialty, legal capacity, professional qualification and experience of the worker. These must be legalized according to the relevant order, accompanied by a translation into Bulgarian and corresponding to the requirements for occupying the position;
- Declaration by the employer that the conditions of work and pay are respected and that they are not less favorable than the conditions for Bulgarian citizens for the relevant category of work;
- A copy of a fixed-term employment contract concluded under the terms of Bulgarian legislation, certified by the employer;
- A copy of the job description, when it is an integral part of a contract
- Document that the conditions for exercising a profession included in the List of regulated professions in Bulgaria are fulfilled;
- Mandatory medical insurance;
- Passport copy or other similar ID document, showing the signature and the photograph of the holder;
- Other documents that may be necessary for the application.
The procedure to obtain EU Blue Card
The required procedures for the issuance of European Blue Card are the following:
- Obtaining a permit to access the labor market. Such permit is issued within 15 days of submitting the application, by notifying the applicant or his representative in writing. The permit is granted for the duration of the employment contract with the foreigner. The contract must be not shorter than 12 months;
- Submission of an application for the issuance of a visa, type “D”. The visa is issued by a consulate or embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria.
- Obtaining a residence and work permit of the “EU Blue Card” type. Such a permit is issued by the authorities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for a period of up to four years. This authorization can be renewed if the legal prerequisites are met
What are the requirements toward the employer to obtain a work permit for his employee?
At the time of submitting the documents for the issuance of a work permit, the employing company must have employed employees who are Bulgarian citizens or citizens of other EU member states. There are also other essential conditions that need to be met, namely the ones below.
Quota for foreign workers (except for EU Blue Card)
The ratio between employees who are Bulgarians/EU citizens and those who are citizens of third countries is different depending on the type of company (standards determined by the Law on Accounting in the Republic of Bulgaria). If the enterprise is small or medium, it is necessary that the employees who are citizens of third countries do not exceed 35 percent. In all other cases – 20 percent.
It should be established that the offered conditions of work and pay for citizens of third countries are not less favorable than the conditions for Bulgarian citizens for the relevant category of work.
Strong reason as to why no Bulgarians or other EU employees can do the job
The employer must motivate the need to hire employees who are citizens of third countries and the refusal to hire Bulgarian citizens or citizens of EU member states.
The employer has not dismissed employees of the same categories, profession and qualification level for which he wants to appoint workers – citizens of third countries, in the previous 6 months before submitting the application;
Question about “renting” of employees
In Poland for example, the foreigners are mostly employed not through “final” employers, but through the agencies, who are then leasing them to the final employer. There are two ways:
- temporary staffing agency, leasing the staff to the final employer, or;
- outsourcing company that provides a different service for the final client (production, warehouse etc), where the service is provided by foreign employees.
Is something like that in Bulgaria? If so, what are the requirements for that kind of agency in order to work properly and employ foreign workers?
In Bulgaria, both options are also known – regarding outsourcing companies and staffing companies.
The first case is acceptable for the employment of non-EU foreigners. In this case, the employee will be hired in the department that provides certain services. Then the employing company will provide these specific services to the clients by means of providing and managing the necessary workforce.
The second case, staffing firms, are inapplicable for work permit purposes. According to the law, non-EU employees with work permits, can only work for the employer who hired them. The foreigners may not be directly employed by another company for different type of work than initially hired for.
What does the step-by-step process of obtaining a work permit look like?
The process for hiring a third-country national goes through several stages:
Obtaining permission to access the labor market
At this stage, the necessary documents must be prepared. These are the employment contract, declarations, applications and the publication of job advertisements for the relevant position, etc. The employer must also furnish the report, justifying the need to hire a citizen of a third country. The report must state the facts and circumstances which show the need of hiring of a foreign worker and justify the refusal to hire a Bulgarian citizen, a citizen of another member state of the European Union. At this stage, it is important to justify the need to specifically hire a citizen of a third country.
Documents proving the qualifications or experience of the citizens who will be hired for the respective position must also be submitted. This stage may take different time depending on the technical time for submission of documents establishing previous experience and/or qualifications of the citizen. The minimum term is 1 month, which is administrative.
Application for immigration visa D
After obtaining the work permit, the foreigner must apply for a D visa on this basis. The timeframe here is again different, with the minimum being one month. In some cases, through careful planning, this term can be shortened significantly. Please contact us for details.
Obtaining residence permit
After receiving visa D, the foreigner has to visit Bulgaria and obtain his residence permit. And of course, to start working for the employer. The residence permit is issued within 14 days.
Expenses (government fees, translations etc)
If the employer can handle the whole procedure by himself, the costs will be limited to government fees and translation/legalization costs.
The state fees are in general very low and they may be subject of change at all times.
The costs for translation and legalization can differ greatly and can become significant if there are many documents to be processed (ie diplomas, etc.). We always emphasize on the importance of quality translation and legalization. Often, non professional translation and/or legalization may be the reason for the application to be rejected.
What if the employer can not handle the procedures alone?
Unfortunately this is almost always the case as the procedures are cumbersome and complicated. In this case, the assistance of professional assistance is required. Please contact our offices for additional information about your particular situation.
Are there cases of refusal to issue a work permit?
There may be a refusal to issue a work permit for various reasons. Often, the administrative authorities may consider that another candidate for the relevant position, who is a Bulgarian or European citizen, is suitable for the occupation.
It is possible to receive a refusal in case of non-compliance with the requirement for the ratio of employees who are Bulgarian/European citizens and those who are citizens of third countries. The same applies in case of non-compliance with any of the other requirements specified earlier in the article.
It is also possible to receive a refusal in the event that it is established that the employer has an effective criminal decree in a previous two-year period for using the labor of a foreigner without the right to access to the labor market. Another reason for refusal is when the authorities may consider that hiring the foreigner may pose a threat to the national security.
What additional documents are needed to obtain a Bulgarian work visa once a work permit is issued?
The documents that will be required to obtain a visa are similar to those required to obtain a work permit:
- criminal record certificate;
- medical insurance for a foreigner in Bulgaria;
- evidence of an address in Bulgaria where the foreigner will stay.
All documents must be in original. They must bear a signature and stamp from the authority that issued them in the foreigner’s country of origin. Finally all documents must be certified and finally translated and legalized in Bulgarian.