Bulgaria to retain its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program in 2019
Two acts regulate permanent residency and citizenship by investment in Bulgaria, i.e., the Foreigners Act and the Citizenship Act. The Foreigners Act outlines the conditions and procedures for obtaining permanent residency by investment, while the Citizenship Act outlines those for citizenship obtained via investment.
The Bulgarian government published a bill to amend the Foreigners Act wherein all articles related to the Bulgaria golden visa program remained the same. This guarantees that applications submitted for permanent residency by investment will continue to be accepted.
Recovering from the Ruined Reputation
It has been three months since the rumours that Bulgaria will cancel the provision for obtaining citizenship by investment. However, no bill to amend the Citizenship Act has been introduced yet. Taking into consideration the upcoming election for EU Members of Parliament (MP), which is due in a few months, and the local elections in Bulgaria to be conducted towards the end of 2019 (for city council members and mayors), it is considered that Bulgaria will not amend the Citizenship Act, at least not in 2019. In addition, two political groups left the Parliament in the last two months. The main opposition party, the “Socialist party”, left the Parliament in February, leaving 78 MP seats empty. Moreover, last week, the parliamentary group “Volya” decided to leave the Parliament, bringing the total number of non-attending MPs to 90. This makes the National Assembly requirements of quorum for legislative procedures difficult to satisfy. Furthermore, the Minister of Justice, Tsetska Tsacheva who is the most prominent opponent against the Bulgarian citizenship by investment program resigned due to allegations of corruption.
The upcoming elections amidst such political instability ensures that Bulgaria will not close the Citizenship by investment scheme in 2019.
The amendments to the CBI voted on in Spring 2017 came into effect from 1 January 2019
The amendments voted in 2017 made the Bulgarian citizenship program even more appealing to foreign investors by reducing the time required for gaining citizenship by three–six months. The citizenship application process and interview take place simultaneously. At present, applicants are no longer required to wait for three to six months after submitting their citizenship applications for the subsequent interview process.
You can read the full article regarding the last amendments of the Bulgarian Golden visa by clicking on this link: http://www.bulgarian-citizenship.com/bulgarian-citizenship-by-investment-2019/.
What will happen next?
All evidence points to the fact that Bulgaria will continue to offer citizenship by investment in 2019. Even if the program is cancelled at a later stage, applicants who have already invested in the same will not be affected. The Bulgarian Parliament will definitely adhere to the modern approach adopted for amending legislations, which was followed when the previous amendments were implemented; these amendments were voted on in 2017 but become official law in 2019.
The same approach was applied by the Cypriot Parliament that voted to introduce certain amendments few months ago, which will come into force on 31 January 2021. This leaves enough time for applicants, who have started the procedure, to be granted Bulgarian citizenship before the said program is discontinued.
General information concerning the Bulgarian CBI program can be found at http://www.bulgarian-citizenship.com/bulgarian-citizenship-investment/ .
How does a Bill become an Act in Bulgaria: Legislative procedures in Bulgaria
A long process is followed for implementing amendments in Bulgaria, starting from proposing amendments to the Citizenship Act, till they become official law. However, no amendments have been officially proposed so far for the aforementioned act; there are rumours that Bulgaria will discontinue its citizenship program. The legislative procedure required to implement the same may take more than six months and can be outlined in the following steps:
- MPs submit a bill to the Parliament. The President of the National Assembly distributes the bill to the Standing Committees.
- The Standing Committees consider the bill and submit a “motivated” report to the President of the National Assembly.
- First voting of the MPs takes place. The bill is debated in its entirety.
- Second voting of the MPs is conducted. The National Assembly debates and adopts the bill chapter-by-chapter, title-by-title or paragraph-by-paragraph.
- The adopted act is sent to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to sign a decree for its promulgation. The President can veto the same, further delaying the legislative procedures.
- If the President accepts the provisions of the bill, the act is promulgated in the State Gazette and comes into force after three days or on any other date prescribed in the said act.
For more information about Bulgaria Golden Visa and Bulgarian citizenship by investment, please feel free to contact the dedicated team of citizenship lawyers of Bulgarian Citizenship.