Bulgarian citizenship for a person with Bulgarian parent
We will start today with a quote by a famous person. Albert Einstein knew a lot about the Universe. But he also knew how relativistic the subject of citizenship is…
So who is Bulgarian citizen? The question seems ridiculously simple. But the answer, in some particular cases, is extremely complicated and… relativistic.
Children of naturalized foreigners in Bulgaria
So, back to our question – who is Bulgarian citizen? The answer seems to be very clearly written in the Bulgarian Constitution. There are basically three hypotheses:
Bulgarian citizen is everyone whose at least one parent is a Bulgarian citizen or who was born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, if he did not acquire another citizenship by origin. Bulgarian citizenship can also be acquired by naturalization.Art. 25, par. 1 of the Bulgarian Constitution
In this article we will concentrate on the first and most important hypothesis, when a person has (at least) one Bulgarian parent. We will show the problems that arise in some cases, namely when the person has to prove that his parent is Bulgarian citizen.
The problems with the Constitution
We have written many articles on the subject, but to cut the long story short, the problem is that the Law on the Bulgarian Citizenship “deviates” from the Constitution. This deviation is, in its essence, quite “relativistic”, for so far that the Constitutional Court has not declared it yet to be unconstitutional. So for the time being, we have to play with the cards that are on the table, no matter how much we hate doing that.
The Constitutional definition deems every person with Bulgarian parent to be Bulgarian citizen too. So one would think that a foreigner whose mother or father are naturalized in Bulgaria at one point, will automatically become Bulgarian citizen. From the constitutional text, it seems logical that at the moment of naturalization of the parent, all his/her children will also become Bulgarian citizens, right? Well, you guessed it – wrong. This is unfortunately not the case, at least not the way it is understood by the Bulgarian authorities. Or as we say, when the State can make things difficult and complicated, why would it make it easy and simple. Surprisingly, the Citizenship Law requires that the children of the naturalized Bulgarians should get naturalized too, on ground of having one Bulgarian parent:
A person who is not a Bulgarian citizen can acquire Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization … if one of his parents is a Bulgarian citizen or has died as a Bulgarian citizen.Art. 15, par. 1, p. 3 of the Citizenship Law (shortened)
So what about Art. 25 of the Constitution? Who cares about the Constitution? Well, we do, but who cares that we do…
Do we need changes in the Constitution or in the Citizenship Law?
Back to the good ole Constitution now. It would have been all ok if Art. 25 of it was stating that “Bulgarian citizen is everyone
whose at least one parent is who has been born by a Bulgarian citizen.“. But it doesn’t say that!
The way the Constitution is written now is, in our opinion, in contradiction with the Citizenship Law. Or rather the other way around of course. And this mess doesn’t only affect the rights of foreign children of parents who have obtained Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization (as they are now not automatically considered to be Bulgarian citizens). It potentially affects also all Bulgarian citizens, who have been born as such, by two Bulgarian parents.
Suppose that I am Bulgarian citizen, of legal age, born abroad by (both) parents – Bulgarian citizens. I am obviously Bulgarian citizen according to Art. 25 of the Constitution as having at least one parent Bulgarian citizen. Then suppose at one moment in time, my parents lose their Bulgarian citizenship, for whatever reason. My Bulgarian citizenship would not be affected, as this is not foreseen in the law. Logically, this is also how things work in reality. I will still be Bulgarian citizen. But on what ground? According to article 25 of the almighty Constitution, I am not Bulgarian citizen anymore, because:
- None of my parents are Bulgarian citizens, and;
- I am not born in Bulgaria, and;
- I am not naturalized.
Puzzled? You better be. Einstein explained the speed of light, but we bet he can’t explain that. Anyway, this was not meant to be the subject of this article. So, let’s go back to the main issue.
How to prove that you have a parent – Bulgarian citizen?
Mr Wilson and his family
Let’s go back to our original problem. Suppose that a foreigner, let’s call him Mr Wilson, has 10 children (yes, that’s perfectly possible, believe us). Some of his children also got children, so Mr Wilson should be a proud grandfather already. Logically, all children of Mr Wilson are non-Bulgarian citizens. At one point in time, Mr Smith acquires Bulgarian citizenship by investment and is thereby naturalized Bulgarian citizen. So what happens with the citizenship status of his children and grandchildren?
How can Mr Wilson’s children become Bulgarian citizens?
As already explained, according to the Constitution, we believe (though who cares) that all of Mr Wilson’s children should be considered Bulgarian citizens from the moment when he has obtained Bulgarian citizenship. This is on basis of the fact that the children are now having one parent – Bulgarian citizen. This should also apply to the grandchildren, as they, on their turn, also have one Bulgarian parent – Mr Wilson’s children. But as we have to go through the Citizenship Law, the children of Mr Wilson would need to go through the process of naturalization, in order to obtain Bulgarian citizenship.
The naturalization process
Luckily for Mr Wilson’s children, the naturalization process for those with Bulgarian parent is quite easy and straightforward. Basically, apart from some standard documents, the candidate needs to present:
An official document that one of his parents is Bulgarian citizen or has died as such.Art. 6, par. 1, p. 3 of the Ordinance № 1 to the Citizenship Law
So what could this document be and how can one get it?
The document that proves the Bulgarian citizenship of the parent
Obviously, the easiest option would be to present the original of the Presidential citizenship decree, by means of which, Mr Wilson has been naturalized. But what if Mr Wilson is nowhere to be found, even by his children? Or what if Mr Wilson doesn’t want to cooperate? Things happen. So what then? Are Mr Wilson’s s children deprived of their right to obtain Bulgarian citizenship through naturalization, just because their father is “unavailable”? Of course not. But how can then the children of Mr Wilson prove to the Bulgarian authorities that their father is Bulgarian citizen?
According to the Citizenship Law:
Upon application of the interested person, the Ministry of Justice issues a certificate of citizenship, which states whether or not the person is a Bulgarian citizen according to the registers kept by the Ministry. The certificate is issued within 30 days of receipt of the documents at the Ministry of Justice.Art. 39, par. 1 of the Citizenship Law
According to the relevant Ordinance № 1, the applicant must submit an application that literally states:
Mr. Minister, I would like a certificate to be issued showing whether I have retained my Bulgarian citizenship. For this purpose, I declare the following data:...
What (or WTF as my first grade daughter says)??? The Citizenship Law says that an “interested party” may request whether the person has Bulgarian citizenship. But the Ordinance, as subordinated legal act, limits this only to retention of the Bulgarian citizenship. And by the way, “retention” is a term that is not being used anywhere in the Citizenship Law. We have the feeling, that the person who has made up this masterpiece of application, has had very little knowledge of the relevant legislation. And what if one wants to know not whether he has retained his citizenship, but whether he has obtained it in the first place? The Ordinance doesn’t even foresee such option. Neither the possibility for the children to obtain confirmation that their father, Mr Wilson, is Bulgarian citizen.
The possible solutions to the problem
The obvious solution to this legal problem is to go through the Bulgarian Courts. We are confident that the right of the children to obtain Bulgarian citizenship, on basis of the citizenship of their father, can not be compromised. But the procedures in Court, bearing in mind that the authorities will most likely appeal everything, may take ages.
The other solution is to obtain confirmation from the Minister, that is not precisely based on the articles in the Citizenship Law and the Ordinance to it. But with the GDPR regulations in Bulgaria and the EU, the Minister will think twice, before signing anything. What we believe will work out is if all of Mr Wilson’s children, or at least the majority of them, file a collective request to the Ministry of Justice. The request will need to be backed by solid legal arguments of course, to convince the Ministry of the necessity of official confirmation of Mr Wilson’s citizenship status. Nothing is stopping anyone of Mr Wilson’s children to request such a document on his/her own. But we believe that an individual request by only one or two of the children will make the Minister think that there may be something very “fishy” in the whole story and will result into rejection to issue the document.
DISCLAIMER: This article is based on our own understanding and interpretation of the relevant Bulgarian legislation and does not constitute legal or other advice of any kind!