The lightning fast path to Bulgarian citizenship and passport
We can now definitely say that 2023 was the year that marked the Bulgarian citizenship for special merits as one of the fastest path to full EU citizenship. Good things don’t come easy though.
In an ideal world, our services would not be needed at all. In an ideal world, the Bulgarian politicians would have a dedicated team that would be pinpointing the potential foreigners that would be of benefit to the state. These forefingers would be encouraged and eventually rewarded with special merits citizenship. Unfortunately, we are not living in an ideal world and this is not how it works. Instead it is us, who have to show to the responsible politicians in Bulgaria how can they encourage certain, capable, foreigners into doing good for the country.
The questions asked
Today we will be answering some questions that were recently asked by two of our perspective customers. So let’s dig into the legalities of the Bulgarian citizenship for special merits. But first, we will remind our readers what the Citizenship Law actually stipulates:
A person who is not a Bulgarian citizen may acquire Bulgarian citizenship without the conditions under Article 12, if the Republic of Bulgaria has an interest in his/her naturalization or if the person has special services to the Republic of Bulgaria in the social and economic sphere, in the field of science, technology, culture or sport.Art. 16 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Law
Is the special merits citizenship a true Bulgarian citizenship and does it mean that the foreigner will obtain Bulgarian passport?
Absolutely yes. Bulgarian citizenship by special merits is the oldest norm in the Bulgarian citizenship law. The legal norm exists from 1998 and has never been amended. This norm is one of the cornerstones of the Bulgarian citizenship framework. The foreigner, when the norm is applied, obtains full Bulgarian citizenship, ID card, international passport, etc. The norm is extremely important and powerful as it doesn’t even require from foreigner to present neither a criminal record nor a proof of sufficient funds. These requirements need to be met even if the applicant is obtaining citizenship by investment.
A word on the new Bulgarian Constitution
The somewhat controversial constitutional amendments that were passed at the end of 2023 foresee that deputies and ministers can now hold dual citizenship. Previously this was not possible, as these political figures needed to be Bulgarian citizens only. Many analysts tend to believe that this change was initiated, because of the scandal with the Canadian citizenship of Mr Kiril Petkov. In short, Mr Petkov, even though still being Canadian citizen, has declared that he is Bulgarian citizen only. As result, he became minister and later a prime-minister of Bulgaria. Now, with the amended Constitution, this scandal will be pardoned to some extend. Most importantly however, there are already some indications that the special merits norm will flourish from now on. That is, new Bulgarian citizens for special merits may even become the next generation of politicians in the country.
How long does the process of obtaining citizenship for special merits take?
The core process is fast. In fact ultra fast. We would be talking about weeks here, not even months. The whole procedure however is much more complicated than the core naturalization process. In order to qualify for special merits citizenship, the candidate should be able to present himself (and really be such) as a truly beneficial to the country. And this takes time. How long? It depends from case to case, but the general rule is from 6 to 12 months.
It is very important to stress here that citizenship by special merits should be seen as citizenship through invitation, rather than citizenship by application. As we wrote above, in an ideal world, our services would not be needed at all. The capable foreigners, who are of benefit to the country, would be chased by the relevant ministers and offered Bulgarian citizenship. This doesn’t happen like that though, except in some very, very rare cases. Such rare case was with the heroes who rescued Bulgarian children in the river Lim.
Are citizens of certain countries more likely to be successful in obtaining Bulgarian special merits citizenship?
The Bulgarian law doesn’t provide for different treatment on citizenship basis. Still, in reality, citizens of countries with stronger passports are strongly favored. And to be honest, there is sound logic behind that. It is of course so that citizens of countries like USA, Canada, UK, Australia and of course the EU, would be not interested to “demonstrate false favors” to Bulgaria in order to get passport. Therefore citizens of the aforementioned countries are much more likely to be approved for citizenship for special merits than citizens of, for example, Pakistan, India, China or Lebanon. All this is of course very subjective.
Are there any costs, ongoing costs, during the application?
In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any. If you are one of the rescuers of the Bulgarian children from the flood in Lim river, there would be virtually none. But if none of these two apply, there are costs. Firstly, we don’t work for free. Secondly, the chance to demonstrate your ability to be of benefit to Bulgaria comes with its price tag too. The closest your background is to this of the river Lim rescuers, the lower your expected costs will be. Of course, if you are too far away from the target, you won’t stand chances to obtain special merits citizenship. Our job is to evaluate your chances and to honestly advise you as to the feasibility of your attempt to obtain citizenship through the lightning fast procedure.
In cases, where we believe that the procedure has realistic chances of success, we may quote a figure at the beginning. This figure will include all expected costs, not taking into account only eventual travel costs and some small charges for translation, legalization, etc.
If the process is not successful, will I get refund and how much?
The simple answer is – none. As previously stated, this is not a citizenship by application, but citizenship by invitation. Even if it was by application, then again, refund is out of the question. Ever tried to get your visa fee returned to you if visa was not issued? For any visa, US visa, Schengen visa?
Honestly, we think that even asking this question should ban the candidate from even being considered for citizenship for special merits. After all, the successful candidate should be able to provide “special services to the Republic of Bulgaria”. Even thinking for a refund is putting the candidate extremely far from the core idea of the citizenship for special merits.