Bulgaria Moves to End the Country’s ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme

Bulgaria’s new government passed a bill to abolish their citizenship by investment, or ‘golden visa’ scheme, according to reports.

The golden visa scheme is a program set up to allow investors to gain citizenship in Bulgaria by means of making a large investment in the country.

Currently, the minimum investment needed to gain Bulgarian citizenship by investment is €500,000. For €1 million, applicants can skip the normal, more tedious process of getting their golden visa, which is already shortened from the way that regular people can go about getting citizenship.

The move to abolish the program comes after ongoing pressure from the European Commission and other Member States such as France to end citizenship by investment in the country.

To go into effect, the bill would need to pass in Bulgaria’s parliament. A date for the vote has not yet been announced.

The previous administration conducted an investigation, and in 2021 informed the state agency for national security of possible “irregularities” with 47 of the golden visas issued since the introduction of them in 2013.

Although the investigation is ongoing, there so far have been 5 cases found in which the citizenships were granted in return for investment, and the investors immediately turned around and sold all the assets they bought in Bulgaria after the process was complete. Doing this ensured the investors most of their money back and they have been allowed to keep their citizenship.

Although Bulgaria is in the hot seat for their golden visa scheme, there are several other EU and Schengen Member States that have similar schemes set up in their own countries.

A full list of European countries currently offering golden visas includes:

  • Cyprus
  • Bulgaria
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Malta
  • Montenegro
  • Portugal
  • Spain

The details like minimum investment amounts and terms for citizenship by investment schemes vary from country to country, however, many Member States still offer them despite ongoing pressure from EU governing bodies like the European Commission.

For more information about Schengen Visas and citizenship by investment, click this link.

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