Why are Bulgarian consulates and embassies requiring prior permission from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
Quite often, foreigners who are already in Bulgaria, are willing to obtain a long-term residence permit. But they are facing a serious hurdle. In order to obtain a residence permit, they must first obtain visa D. This visa, AKA long-term residence visa or a visa under Article 15 of the Foreigners Law, logically, cannot be applied for from Bulgaria.
The visa Ordinance
According to the the Ordinance on the conditions and procedure for issuing visas and determining the visa regime (the visa Ordinance):
(4) The application for the issuance of a long-term residence visa is submitted only at the diplomatic and consular missions of the applicant’s permanent residence or at those missions that are accredited for the country of the applicant’s permanent residence.
(5) Visa applicants who are residing legally in a third country other than their country of permanent residence may exceptionally apply in that third country after justifying their reasons for doing so and if their return to the country of permanent residence is guaranteed.
(6) In humanitarian and urgent cases, an application for the issuance of a visa can also be submitted in countries other than those provided for in par. 3 – 5.art. 11, par. 4, 5, 6 from the visa Ordinance
According to the regulations, an application for visa D can be submitted in any country where Bulgaria has diplomatic and consular representations, as long as there are humanitarian or urgent cases. It should be noted that there is a definition of the term “Humanitarian reasons” in the Foreigners Law. However, the concept of “Urgent cases” is not defined neither in the Foreigners Law nor in the visa Ordinance. In the context of the discussed problem however, this is completely irrelevant.
Is prior authorization really required to apply for visa D from a third country?
The question we are discussing in this article is whether it is legal to require prior approval from the MFA for visa D application in a third country.
In our opinion, this requirement is illegal. No law, rule or regulation, to our knowledge, requires that the visa D applicant has to submit a request for prior approval to apply from a third country. The applicant should, without any prior requests or approvals, submit his visa D application. The embassy or consulate should assess on the spot whether the case is of a humanitarian or urgent nature.
Urgent cases, but prior permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs???
The very definition of “urgent cases” means that the applicant must immediately be able to submit his visa D application. This is definately not the case if prior approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to be obtained. Such approval takes time, days, even weeks. There is no more “urgent case” if the applicant has to wait for the prior approval by the MFA.
Our official inquiry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the case
As this requirement for prior approval makes it difficult for many foreigners to legalize their stay in Bulgaria, we made an official request for information to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The answer of the ministry, to put it mildly, did not answer our questions. The answer of the MFA contains copy-paste quotes from the legislation, but doesn’t provide any justification as to the legality of the requirement to seek prior approval from the MFA to apply for visa D in a third country.
The response of the MFA
The absence, in our view, of any real legal arguments, strengthened our view that:
The request by the Bulgarian embassies and consulates to visa D applicants who wish to apply from a third country to request prior permission from the MFA is ILLEGAL!
Despite our conclusion above, we do not claim 100% objectivity. Some of our readers may have a different opinion. We, as well as our friends at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, remain available for further discussions.
For all foreigners and their Bulgarian partners who need assistance in applying for visa D from a third country, we are always only one click away.