Recently we had an enquiry from a prospective Bulgarian client living in another EU member state. The client is married to a non-EU citizen, whose immigration documents are in order (in the other EU members state).

The Bulgarian client wanted to obtain for her husband Bulgarian residence permit (id card) on basis of their marriage. The idea of the client was that this residence permit card should be on basis of “family member of EU citizen”. So is that possible?

Family member of EU citizen vs family member of Bulgarian citizen

As Bulgaria is fully fledged EU member state, isn’t then the above comparison pointless? Well, not really…

The foreigners law

If a foreigner (non-EU citizen) is married to Bulgarian citizen, then according to the Bulgarian legislation, he is considered to be “family member of Bulgarian citizen”. The rights of such foreigner in Bulgaria is governed by the foreigner’s law, which is quite unfortunate as this law is extremely restrictive.

The law for the EU citizens and their family members

If a foreigner however is married to EU citizen (but not Bulgarian), then his rights in Bulgaria are governed by the law for the EU citizens and their family members. This law is much more liberal and, surprisingly, the non-EU national who is married to non-Bulgarian (but still an EU citizen) has much more rights in Bulgaria than if he was married to Bulgarian national. For this irregularity, we have already filed a case with the State Commission for Discrimination and are looking forward for positive result.

So can our client obtain what she wants for her husband?

No, unfortunately not! What the husband of our client can get however is residence permit as spouse of Bulgarian citizen (this is different than a permit as spose of EU citizen). Unfortunately, to make this possible, the husband of our client will need to go through the trouble of obtaining visa D first. And what is even worse, the percentage of refused visa D applications has been skyrocketing recently.

Contra-intuitively, if our client was not Bulgarian, but citizen of another EU country, all this hassle with obtaining visa D would not be necessary.

Why would the husband of our client need to obtain Bulgarian residence permit anyway

No matter the difficulties that come with the application for visa D, our client’s husband should still apply for and obtain Bulgarian residence permit. Even though he holds another EU country’s residence permit and he can travel freely within the EU, obtaining Bulgarian residence permit (+visa D) will enable him to obtain at one time later Bulgarian permanent residence and even Bulgarian citizenship. And as we all know, getting hold of Bulgarian passport is priceless. And no matter the administrative hurdles, obtaining Bulgarian citizenship is million times better than having any type of residence status in any other EU member state.

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