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.

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