There are certain myths and truths about the Bulgarian Immigration procedures, which I have experienced in my practice so far:
1 ) “Visa D for Bulgaria and Bulgarian residence permit is the same”.
– No, it is not. Visa D is a permission, issued by the Bulgarian consular office in your country to enter Bulgaria for a particular term, while the residence permit allows the holder to reside on a particular address on the territory of Bulgaria during the term it is issued for. In practice, the issued Visa is namely the legal base for applying here for their residence permit.
2) “I can obtain or renew my expiring visa D while I am in Bulgaria without any need to leave the country.”
– Actually, you can’t. The Law permits issuing visa only by the consular offices abroad, so the applicant has to apply in person only in the consular office in the country they live; i.e. not in Bulgaria. There is no local authority here which could issue Visa C or D. The role of this prohibition is to allow the issuers of visa, if they find out during the check of the application, that the applicant could represent any danger to the national security, or he is just trying to break the immigration Laws, to deny issuing visa. Whereas a result the applicant won’t be able to enter Bulgaria at all.
3) “I can buy a home in Bulgaria, or establish a company there and this is enough to grant me a visa and/or residence permit.”
– No, this is not possible according to our Immigration Laws. These set up precise legal rules, related to investors, who wish to invest cash in our country and settle here. These rules relate to various options for investing 500 000 Levs, or 1 million Levs, etc. for getting a residence permit and eventually Bulgarian citizenship later – depending on the particularly given option, because there are several available, according to the type of investment (corporate investment, investment in governmental bonds, etc.). Like many other western countries, here also the goal of the local lawmakers is to welcome investors who to bring a reasonable amount of fresh cash in our economy. And respectively to prevent people with no financial support, to migrate here.
4) “If I get a residence permit for Bulgaria, I can travel and reside everywhere else within the European Union.”
– This is an option which applies only after 5 years of residing in Bulgaria because the Bulgarian Immigration Laws usually apply only on the Territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. In addition, Bulgaria is not a member of the Schengen area – therefore Bulgarian visas and residence permits are not recognized in other countries members of the EU. And these won’t allow a foreigner to travel or live in another country in the EU, except the holder of long-term residence permit who has resided 5 years here.
5) “I am having a residence permit for another European country, therefore, I can visit and settle in Bulgaria.”
– This is possible only for holders of EU residence permits. An exception is made to holders of Blue Card, which enables them to move from one country to another within the territory of the European Union. Except that, according to our Immigration Laws, a foreigner can enter in Bulgaria only on the base of issued visa (incl. Schengen visas that are recognized by our country). A residence is allowed only on the base of issued residence permit.
6) “If I find a job offer that suits me, I can move to Bulgaria to work and live there.”
– Well, it is not that simple. The local Immigration Law establishes a long and heavy procedure for local employers who wish to employ a person who is not EU citizen. It actually involves the employer to participate in providing legal status to the foreigner. And many local employers do not realize it at first sight. For example, this procedure involves offering first the job position to the locals, applying for a work permit for the foreign job applicant at the local Labor Agency where proving that no local applicant took the job, etc. Therefore many local employers do not use this difficult option and even if they could initially promise towards a foreigner to hire him/her, then during the process they could withdraw it – except if the job applicant has extremely valuable skills that the employer values a lot.
5) “During my visa refusal appeal/residence permit refusal appeal – I can reside legally in Bulgaria.”
Unfortunately, this is not possible. The local Law does not allow applicants, who appeal visa refusals, or residence permit refusals, at the local court in Sofia, to reside in Bulgaria during the appeal process, if they do not have a valid visa or residence permit in the meantime. This is to avoid situations where such appeal could be used only as an instrument to enable some period of stay in Bulgaria.