Bulgarian CBI – outlook for 2022 (and beyond)
Investment citizenship in the EU looks like something extinct. After the Cypriot program was cancelled in November 2021, it is now only Bulgaria and partially Malta to have Golden Passport programs. Most international immigration agents have already changed their terminology from “citizenship by investment” to “residence by investment”. The term “Golden Passport” was gradually replaced by “Golden Visa” with the hope that the non-EU applicants will not catch the difference. All this happened, because the true citizenship by investment is now available in Bulgaria only. And in Bulgaria, it is us who handle the vast majority of the applications directly, so there is no “food” for the international resellers.
Bulgarian investment citizenship gets pricier
Logically, now that everyone can only offer investment residence (AKA Golden Visa), the true Golden Passport becomes more expensive. On top of that, the inflation worries worldwide are forcing those with available cash to invest in something durable. And nothing is more durable than EU citizenship, with all the rights it comes with.
Huge number of wealthy business people from the Middle East, Russia, China, Korea, USA, Australia, UK, etc. are now lining up with the hope to hop on the last train and to obtain Bulgarian citizenship. Obviously all this is pushing the prices sharply up.
Compliance becomes difficult in 2021-22
Bulgaria and Malta have been always pressured by the EU Commission to end their CBI programs. The two countries have so far successfully defended their legislation, but have implied additional measures to ensure all applicants are checked (more) thoroughly. This has led to serious administrative load and compliance procedures. The formalities, required to allow a candidate to become eligible to obtain EU citizenship by investment, have increased drastically. In Bulgaria, the new program of March 2021 foresees for example, a preliminary approval by the InvestBulgaria Agency. Similar measures are required for the candidates that plan to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by opening a business in Bulgaria.
Our prediction for 2022
Bulgarian citizenship by investment will definitely become more and more difficult to get in 2022. In order for the government to be able to guarantee that all applicants are 100% legally compliant, only flawless applications from reputable candidates will be accepted. The overall price for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship by investment will continue to rise. The cost to obtain Bulgarian golden passport will eventually reach the prices that investors were paying in Cyprus before. We do not believe that the price of the Bulgarian program will ever reach the prices in Malta, even though it is now widely expected that USA will soon introduce visa-free entry to Bulgarian passport holders. So far, the only advantage of the Maltese passport was its visa-free access to the USA.
All in all, EU citizenship, if not extinct, becomes a rarity. Bulgaria and Malta remain the only two EU member states to offer this unique opportunity to non-EU citizens. We believe that the best investment any non-EU national with sufficient resources and international exposure (or lifestyle) can make, will be to obtain EU passport.