About 70,000 Russian citizens can stay in Bulgaria without visas, with nearly 30,000 of them entitled to permanent residence, while the rest have long-term residence cards of up to one year. This was established by Bivol through requests to the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, filed under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA).

Between October 2016 and October 2017, Russians living permanently in Bulgaria increased by 6,003 people. Such cards are most often issued after five years of uninterrupted stay in the country with the status of a long-term resident alien.

In the same period, there was a threefold increase of the issued long-stay cards. Such were received by 31, 858 citizens of the Russian Federation. By comparison, in October 2015 – October 2016, permits were issued to 10,085 Russian citizens.

Permits for permanent and long-term residence grant the right to work, to obtain health insurance and all other rights of Bulgarian citizens, except voting in elections.

 

Справка от МВР по ЗДОИ за броя на разрешителните за пребиваване издадени на руски граждани и “златните визи”

In the last ten years, there have been 861 naturalized Russian citizens, according to a reply by the Ministry of Justice to a request under APIA.

How many immigration visas are there in Bulgaria?

Bivol sent another request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the issued long-term visas for a period of six months and one year to Russian citizens. This is the so-called Visa D or Immigration Visa. Representatives of Russian companies in Bulgaria, as well as students, pensioners, spouses, family members of Bulgarian citizens or real estate investors can all apply under this category.

The number of these visas is not impressive. For the period October 2016 – October 2017, 1,791 visas were issued for stays of up to six months, and only 48 for one-year stays.

Are Russians buying Bulgarian citizenship?

The number of Russian citizens who have been granted permanent residence as foreign investors in Bulgaria is relatively the largest, according to data received from the Ministry of Interior. This is the first step towards acquiring Bulgarian citizenship against money or the so-called “Golden Visas”. This status is attractive to non-EU citizens because it immediately gives them the right to visa-free travel in the countries of the European Union and later – the right to Bulgarian citizenship.

In the last five years, four Russians have invested more than BGN 1 million in shares in Bulgarian enterprises, and 62 in bonds and treasury bills. Three have invested at least BGN 1 million in a licensed credit institution in Bulgaria under a trust contract with a term of not less than five years and one Russian has invested no less than BGN 6 million in the capital of a Bulgarian trading company whose shares are not traded on a regulated market.

It is intriguing that among the millionaires who have received a Bulgarian “Golden Visa” there are citizens of Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh, and even two foreigners without citizenship.

According to a check by the Bulgarian daily Dnevnik with the Registry Agency for the period from 2006 to 2016, 73,614 Russian citizens and 30 companies with Russian owners bought properties in Bulgaria. This figure is close to the number of permanent and long-term stays of Russians in our country. This means that a large number of owners have already taken advantage of their right to settle in Bulgaria.

However, the properties are used by whole families who come to Bulgaria with short-term tourist visas. Over time, this may change as members of the family of permanent residents are also entitled to permanent residence. It is, therefore, important to follow the trend of obtaining residence permits in Bulgaria in the coming years as well.

 

This post is also available in: Bulgarian