Green Card - movie
“Green Card” with Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell – nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay

Marriage in Bulgaria and getting residency permit (including immigration visa D) in 2020

Marriage is considered the fastest and the easiest way to obtain residency rights in any country. Many of you have watched the Green Card Movie with Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, the problem of obtaining residency through (fake) marriage was first presented to the wide public, nicely dressed with some romance and love.

Many things have changed since the movie first appeared in the early 90’s. Mr Depardieu not only gained some weight, but was also granted Russian citizenship in 2013. Sham (fake) marriages were criminalized across the Globe and now those who get their hands dirty, may face lengthy sentences. In Bulgaria, fake marriages are strictly prohibited and those who are caught are harshly prosecuted. And so is almost everywhere.

Luckily, this article won’t be covering the area of fake marriages, which belongs to the Penal Law domain. We will shed some light into that how easy (or difficult) is to obtain Bulgarian residency status through marriage in 2020.

Does a marriage with Bulgarian national guarantee residency rights for the partner?

The law says “YES”. The immigration authorities often say “NO”

The Bulgarian immigration laws

According to Art.24, par.1, p.18 from the Law for the foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria, the family members of Bulgarian citizen may receive long term residency permit. This is on condition that the foreigner has obtained visa D and that all documents proving the marriage are accepted and recognized in Bulgaria.

As usual, the devil is in the details. Here, the catch is the non-imperative wording of the law, namely that the foreigner may receive residency permit. This wording doesn’t oblige the immigration authorities to issue the residency permit even in case that the above conditions are met. Simply because there are many other indirect conditions in the immigration laws that need to be reckoned with.

The immigration authorities and their usual course of action

With so many fake marriages in the last 2 years (the peak being in 2019), the Bulgarian authorities are now deeming every marriage to be a sham, until proven otherwise.

From our experience, we estimate that more than 80% of the applications in the last 6 months have been either rejected (or revised)

Unfortunately, many genuine couples have also serious difficulties to obtain residency permit for the non-Bulgarian partner. Many fail at the very beginning at the visa D stage. Others who make it through, crash with the Bulgarian immigration authorities. Their application is rejected after they come to Bulgaria and submit all documents.

The legal solution

Unfortunately, there are very few administrative solutions, if any. If your visa or residency permit application has been declined, don’t waste your time re-trying. There is usually very short time-frame during which you can appeal the rejection in the Court of Law. And here is where our lawyers will come to the rescue. Please read about some of our immigration legal cases at the VD&A blog and contact us for any questions you might have.

We feel really sorry for all genuine couples who are facing problems with the immigration authorities, and as result can not get their paperwork in order. We sincerely believe the newly married have better things to do than visiting our office for consultations and legal support. The fact is however that from this year (2020), it is becoming even more difficult to obtain Bulgarian residency through marriage.


  1. I am planning to move to Bulgaria next year to be with my boyfriend who is Bulgarian and reside there at the moment. I only have 90 days stay with my passport. What do i need to do to get a long term visa?

    1. Author

      You will have to first apply for visa D in our embassy that is responsible for your country. There is a lot of information on our website in the Bulgarian visa category.
      After and if the visa is obtained, you will need to travel to Bulgaria and apply for long-term residence permit. You can find more information in the Bulgarian residency category.
      You can also ask your boyfriend to contact our offices in Sofia for legal consultation.
      Best regards,

  2. Hi,
    I am an american and my bf and I are trying to figure out if he should apply for my fiance visa or come to the u.s and have a consular marriage at the consulate and then apply for a visa d for me? We want to know whether fiance Visa would be faster or spousal. I also, dont want to come back to the u.s to do more paperwork after our marriage is finalized.

    1. Author

      Hi Kat,
      You must apply for spouse visa D after you are legally married to your BF.
      If you want to eliminate the risks and to reduce the time for obtaining the visa and residency permit, as well as the amount of required travel back and forth, please contact us for further assistance. You can also ask your BF to get in touch with us.

  3. Hello
    I’m a Tunisian citizen and I came as a trade representative with visa D to bulgaria . Now I have my ID card residence permit. I want to get married with my partner and she is a bulgarian woman. So my question if is it possible , what are the documents need to have for me before getting married ?

    1. Author

      The most important documents that you will need to provide are the certificates that you are not married in another country and that your country of origin (Tunisia) will allow and accept your marriage with Bulgarian citizen. The other documents are the standard ones that also apply to all Bulgarian citizens. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Best regards,

  4. Hi there

    I am moving to Bulgaria with my fiancé on a 3 month visa, my question is what is the process when I arrive in order to obtain long term residency to work. We are planning to get married during the 90 Days of my visa. Will I be deported after the three months or how long can i extended it for?

    Many Thanks

    1. Author

      Hello Sky,
      We assume that both you and your fiance are not EU citizens. If this is the case, you will need to apply for your work permit and visa D prior to your arrival in Bulgaria. Otherwise, you will need to travel back to your country of origin and then re-enter Bulgaria. There are some legal options to speed up and simplify the process. In all cases, its best to contact us for further details in case you need assistance.
      Best regards,

  5. Hi. How are you? Sorry to bother you but I just want to ask some questions. Thank you.

    I am a Filipina and I have a Bulgarian boyfriend. Out relationship is turning 3years this Decmber and we are planning to get married. We stay and we work here in Malta.
    And now we cant decide. Our choices is here in Malta or in Bulgaria.

    Do you think it will be more easy if we will be marry in Bulgaria? If yes, then what do we need to do please? Any requirements or documents needs to prepare?

    And then, for example IF we are officially married, is there any chance for me to stay there in Bulgaria even i dont work?
    Because the truth is I have a breast cancer, at the moment i undergo chemo. And we are planning to get married and to stay in Bulgaria after my chemo and operation here in Malta. I will resign at my work.,so the thing is if i stop working here in Malta i cant have my working residence permit here. They will send me back to my country which is I dont want to happen. That’s why I am asking if I can stay in Bulgaria?

    Thank you and more power.

    1. Author

      The best you can do is to get married in Bulgaria and then apply for visa D and residency permit in Bulgaria. In this way, you can stay in Bulgaria even if you are not working and are unemployed.
      If you need any assistance with your Bulgarian immigration visa and residency permit, please contact us asap.

      1. Hi I’m also a Filipina, I visited Bulagria 3x since 2018december. I have a Bulgarian fiance of 4yrs in relationship, we had plan of marrying last 2020 April when I come back, but due to pandemic I’m not allowed to enter Bulgaria, since I’m not yet a family member. What to do? Any advice what should I do next? Should we marry to other country that is available?

        1. Author

          We would advise you to marry asap in any other country where this will be possible and then apply for visa D in order to relocate to Bulgaria. Please contact us if you have difficulties.

  6. Hello,

    Is the “long term residency According to Art.24, par.1, p.18 , for up to 1 year for non eu citizens or can it be up to 5 years?

    Best regards,


    1. Author

      Hello Max,
      The long term residency rights defer from the validity of the residency card, which may be either for 6 or 12 months.
      Best regards,

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