Bulgaria Justice Ministry proposes scrapping granting citizenship in return for investment

Bulgaria Justice Ministry proposes scrapping granting citizenship in return for investment

Bulgaria’s Justice Ministry is proposing amendments to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act which would scrap the possibility of obtaining citizenship through investing in the country, among other steps to refine the requirements for applicants for citizenship.

Under current law, citizenship of Bulgaria may be obtained by an individual who invests a minimum 500 000 euro in a year, doubling this in the second year.

Officials recently said that there have been very few application for Bulgarian citizenship on this basis.

An analysis of the records has shown that the objective of increasing real foreign investments and economic development has not been achieved. As a result, job creation and economic development have not followed from the citizenship-for-investment provision in the law.

The Justice Ministry’s proposals, drafted by a working group appointed by Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva in February 2018, are to be discussed by the Cabinet council on development on January 30 and then put up for public discussion.

Another of the proposals is to require applicants for citizenship on the grounds of Bulgarian ancestry to prove they can speak Bulgarian and have work and income in the country.

The draft proposes implementing quality control over the institutions responsible for the provision of Bulgarian citizenship in order to comply with the legal procedures and deadlines.

Requirements for some documents to be presented in hard-copy form would be abolished.

The Justice Ministry said that the changes in monitoring and procedures were geared to prevent abuses in citizenship applications.

In Bulgaria, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has spoken of shutting down the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, which more than once has been caught up in controversies over alleged corruption in dealing with applications for Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds of Bulgarian descent./IBNA