Bulgaria's Foreigners Act changes

Yana Moyseeva

The Cabinet approved changes to the regulations in Bulgaria’s Foreigners Act on May 23. The regulations now encompass not only foreigners (defined as non-EU member state citizens) in Bulgaria, but also family members of Bulgarian nationals who are not EU citizens or citizens of the European Economic Area or Switzerland. According to the amendments, foreigners entering Bulgaria will have to declare a minimum of 50 euro a day in personal finances.This excludes cases where specific agreements on educational, cultural, or scientific exchanges exist. Before the changes the sum was 50 leva, about half the new requirement. Previously, refusal of entry to Bulgaria was decided by the Bulgarian Interior Minister or those granted permission by them to do so. Now directors of state agencies, directors of directorates, and the director of the Migration Directorate at the Interior Ministry will be able to deny entry. When applying for permanent residence, a foreigner who has married a Bulgarian citizen or a foreigner with permanent residence statute in Bulgaria, had to provide the following documents (in addition to those required by article 30 of the regulations): official marriage certificate, a document containing proof of sufficient finances throughout the entire stay in Bulgaria, and a document issued to foreigners by the state administrative control bodies of approved permanent residence of the spouse. Two more points have now been added to the regulations. Point 4 also requires a copy of the marriage certificate for those who are applying for permanent residence under Article 25, Para. 2 (foreigners able to receive permanent residence after five years of marriage to a foreigner with permanent residence status). Furthermore, Point 5 requires a document that proves that the person has been permanently staying in Bulgaria for the past five years. A copy of the marital document for those who are applying for permanent residence as family members of a Bulgarian national is also required. A new Article 54 requires that in cases of denial of permanent residence, cases where such status is taken away from a foreigner, cases where prolonging the period for stay in Bulgaria is refused, or when a foreigner has to be forcefully taken to the border (Art 39, Para. 2 of the Foreigners Act), the Bulgarian authorities have to take into consideration the time which the foreigner has spent in Bulgaria, their marital status, as well as their family, cultural or social relations with their country of origin. Amendments are also envisaged for foreigners applying for long-term residence, who already have residence in another EU member country. This will come to force through a new article, 40 A (1), to the regulations for the Foreigners Act. It says that applications by such foreigners will be accepted by the Migration Directorate, the Sofia Police Directorate (SPD) or the Regional Police Directorate (RPD). Applicants will also need to include the necessary documents to prove they have paid the state fee at the Interior Ministry as required by the State Fees Act. The application process will take up to four months from the application date and applicants will be informed in writing of the decision. When the foreigner has been granted long-term residence (on the basis that they already have residence in another EU member state), the state administrative control authorities for foreigners are not to stamp the person’s travel document. In cases where long-term residence has been granted by the SPD or the RPD, those authorities must notify the Migration Directorate within seven days of issuing the decision. Even though the proposed amendments have already been approved by the Cabinet, the suggestions made during the May 23 session had to be examined by the body introducing the changes, in this case the Interior Ministry. The changes have already been approved by the Interior Ministry, the Sofia Echo was told by its press centre on May 28. The final version of the Regulations for Implementation of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act now has be finalised and will be published in the State Gazette.