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To call myself Bulgarian – this is the greatest joy for me

Antonia Peeva
Antonia Peeva

Or what are the ways of acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a nationality. Nobody can be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality”. To comply with this principle, countries should establish such procedures for the acquisition of citizenship that exclude or limit the ability for someone to be stateless.

Basic Provisions

In essence, the citizenship is a permanent legal and political relationship of one person to the state, under which that person falls under the state-authoritative rule of this country and benefits in full from the rights and freedoms provided by its laws.

Bulgarian citizenship as a legal institution is governed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship (LBC) and many international treaties, which Bulgaria is a party to. Individuals, who are Bulgarian citizens, are protected by the Bulgarian state and have all the constitutional rights and obligations, wherever they are.

Foreigner is every individual, who is not a Bulgarian citizen. In principle, the legal status of the Bulgarian citizens and the foreigners is the same. However, Bulgarian citizenship is required in order to exercise certain rights and obligations.

The Bulgarian legislation provides several ways for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship. According to Art.25 of the Constitution, “Bulgarian citizen is everyone, who has at least one parent, possessing Bulgarian citizenship or who was born in the Republic of Bulgaria, if not acquiring other citizenship by descent. Bulgarian citizenship can be also acquired by naturalization. “

Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by origin

Bulgarian citizen by origin is everyone who has at least one parent who is a Bulgarian citizen. A Bulgarian citizen by origin is also each individual who is fathered by a Bulgarian citizen or whose origin by a Bulgarian citizen is established by a judgment. This is the basic principle for acquiring Bulgarian citizenship, as it is acquired from the moment of the child’s birth, as there is no need for the parents to carry out any legal action.

Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by birthplace

Bulgarian citizen by birthplace is everyone, who was born on Bulgarian territory if not acquiring other citizenship by descent. An example for that are the cases, when the law of the state, whose citizens are the parents, has adopted the principle of birthplace. According to the LBC, a child is considered as born in Bulgaria when found on Bulgarian territory, whose parents are unknown. The child should be physically unable to indicate who their parents are. In this case it does not matter whether the parents are foreign citizens or they are stateless, because these facts cannot be established.

Acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization

Citizenship by naturalization can be acquired only by foreigners and stateless individuals. The LBC provides various hypotheses for the acquisition of citizenship by naturalization, stating the necessary conditions, which have to be met by the applicant for each of them. The LBC provides the general order under which a foreigner can acquire Bulgarian citizenship – an individual, who is not a Bulgarian citizen, can acquire Bulgarian citizenship if meeting the following requirements to the date of filing the application for naturalization:

  1. is of the full legal age
  2. at least 5 years before has been given a permanent or long-term stay permission in Bulgaria
  3. has not been judged for a crime of general nature by a Bulgarian court and there are no formed criminal proceedings against that individual for such a crime, unless rehabilitated
  4. has an income or occupation that enables the individual to withstand in Bulgaria
  5. speaks Bulgarian – established with the taking of an examination, establishing the degree of fluency in Bulgarian, organized and conducted by the Center for monitoring and evaluating the quality of the school education
  6. has been released from citizenship or will be released from it at the time of acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship. This requirement does not apply to:
    • people – spouses of Bulgarian citizens
    • citizens of a country, Member of the European Union, party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation
    • citizens of countries, which have signed contracts with Bulgaria, establishing reciprocity

Strict than common modes are provided to individuals who (1) have been legally married to a Bulgarian citizen for not less than three years; (2) were born in Bulgaria; (3) have a permission for permanent or long-term stay prior to the full legal age; (4) have been granted a refugee status or asylum for not less than three years before the date of filing the application for naturalization; (5) have been granted a humanitarian status for not less than five years before the date of filing the application for naturalization; (6) are stateless individuals, as well as (7) individuals whose naturalization is of interest for the country or who have special merits to it in public and economic field, science, technology, culture and sport.

To stimulate foreign investors

It has to be noted that together with the simplified procedures for acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship, in 2013, the legislator decided to make a special mode, under which foreigners, who are of the full legal age and have not been judged for a crime of a general nature by a Bulgarian court, can acquire a Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization. The aim is to stimulate the foreign investors to operate in Bulgaria. According to the innovated mode, an individual who is not a Bulgarian citizen and meets these requirements can acquire a Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization, if:

  1. at least one year before, the individual has been granted a permission for permanent residence in Bulgaria, on the ground of made investments in the country, according to the dimensions and conditions, established in the Law for the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria, and has increased the investment on the same terms of the law to a value of at least 2 million leva or has invested not less than 1 million leva in the capital of a Bulgarian company, which performs priority investment project certified under the Law on Investment Promotion (LIP); or\
  2. at least one year before, the individual has received a permission for permanent residence in Bulgaria, on the ground of operating in the implementation and /or maintenance of an investment, having received a certificate under the LIP, in which year the made ​​and commissioned investments have been maintained above the minimum threshold for issuing a certificate for investment class A, certified by the Ministry of economy, energy and tourism.

The article has been published in Bulgarian, in Capital Daily.