The internet scammers are luring Ukrainians (and not only) with false promises

After the war in Ukraine started, many people from Ukraine were given a temporary protection status in Bulgaria. In fact, there are many nationals of other countries, who also were given this status. Even Russians, who were living in Ukraine at the start of the war, could qualify for temporary protection in Bulgaria. With the start of the mass exodus from Ukraine, the internet scammers found new ideas for their false promises. What they started “promising” to their potential victims is to assist them to obtain Bulgarian citizenship. What the scammers are claiming now is that:

Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria are eligible for fast-track citizenship in only 3 years.

So is the above statement true? Let’s find out what are the caveats.

Refugees and fast-track Bulgarian citizenship

According to the Bulgarian Citizenship Law:

A person who has received the status of refugee or asylum no less than 3 years ago, or humanitarian status no less than 5 years ago from the date of submission of the application for naturalization may acquire Bulgarian citizenship (subject to conditions).

Art. 13a from the Bulgarian Citizenship Law (shortened)

In other words, indeed, people with refugee and asylum status in Bulgaria will become eligible for citizenship in 3 years only. And that’s indeed fast, very fast for any EU citizenship procedure. Those with humanitarian status will become eligible in 5 years, which is also not bad. But can Ukrainian refugees make use of these legal opportunities?

Ukrainian “refugees” are not quite… “refugees”

According to the Asylum and Refugees Law, Bulgaria provides the following protection to foreigners (Art. 2, par. 2):

  • Asylum;
  • International protection;
  • Temporary protection.

It is important to note that it is the temporary protection status that the refugees from Ukraine are receiving in Bulgaria.

According to the Law:

International protection is granted by virtue of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees drawn up in Geneva on July 28, 1951, and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967, ratified by law, of international acts on the protection of human rights and of this law and includes refugee status and humanitarian status.

Art. 1a, par. 2 of the Asylum and Refugees Law

In other words, the Ukrainian refugees with temporary protection don’t have neither refugee nor humanitarian status. So their last option to qualify for fast-track Bulgarian citizenship would exist if they have asylum in Bulgaria. But this is also not the case (Art. 2, par. 2 of the Law). Therefore Ukrainian “refugees” are not really considered to be “refugees”. “Refugee” is a term that correlates to international protection and not to temporary protection, which the majority of the Ukrainians are granted.

In the legislation, there is even specific article foreseen for “refugees” whose status qualifies them for preferential (fast-track) procedure to obtain Bulgarian citizenship:

A foreigner granted asylum or international protection may acquire Bulgarian citizenship under the conditions and in accordance with the Law on Bulgarian Citizenship.

Art. 38 of the Asylum and Refugees Law

Temporary protection, unfortunately, is not included as an option above.

Ukrainian “refugees” with temporary protection will net become eligible for Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization

With all that being said, Ukrainian “refugees” with temporary protection will not qualify for Bulgarian citizenship, neither in 3 nor in 5 years. The bad news is that, as they don’t have permanent residence permit in Bulgaria, their stay in the country will not even count towards the “normal” path to citizenship by standard naturalization.

For any additional information on the topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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