On 26 February 2021, the National Assembly adopted, at second reading, the Amending Act to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, the transitional and final provisions of which introduced amendments to the Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. It was for the first time that startup visas were introduced in the national legislation to provide legal grounds for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain a residence permit for the development of a high-tech and/or innovative project.
Third country nationals who are willing to develop a high-tech and/or innovative project in Bulgaria will be granted quick access to a long-term residence permit. For this purpose, these foreign nationals may apply for a certificate to be issued by the Ministry of the Economy for this type of projects (referred to as a “startup visa”). Upon the granting of a long-term visa, type D, applicants should have become shareholders or partners holding more than 50 % of a Bulgarian company, the objects of which are stated at the time when the certificate is issued.
The startup visas are not bound to any requirements for a minimum financial investment – the value of the capital of the company that will implement the startup project is irrelevant. There is no requirement for opening a certain number of jobs for Bulgarian citizens either. Thus non-EU entrepreneurs will be greatly facilitated in starting up business in Bulgaria.
More than a half of all Member States of the European Union (EU) offer startup visas in one form or another.
Currently, the secondary legislation with the implementing measures concerning the startup visa is in the pipeline.