Bulgaria: how to get a startup visa
In the fall of 2022, Bulgaria adopted new amendments to the law making it easier for non-EU citizens to obtain a startup visa in Bulgaria. The new law makes obtaining a long-term residence permit easier by eliminating the need to hire 10 local employees or EU residents.
Bulgaria: what you should know about startup visa
The startup visa in Bulgaria appeared a year ago, but it didn't get much demand because the application couldn't be submitted in English. Lawmakers have taken this point into account, and to increase interest in investing in the country, they have provided such an opportunity.
The new regulation on the startup visa for third-country nationals was published in the State Gazette on October 14, 2022. The applicant gets a certificate for a high-tech and/or innovative business project. It is not actually a new type of entry visa. The certificate allows receiving a residence permit for one year if 50% of the business belongs to a resident of Bulgaria.
The certificate is issued by the Expert Council under the Ministry of Innovation and Growth. Before this, it evaluates the project according to various criteria, among which:
- whether the applicant has sufficient funds;
- whether long-term investments are planned;
- number of clients;
- realistic prospects for scaling up;
- availability of patents.
If a businessperson wants to obtain a residence permit without applying for a startup visa, he must hire 10 Bulgarian employees. A startup visa takes more time to obtain, but hiring local staff is not required.
How to become a start-up visa holder
To receive a residence permit, you need to apply the Ministry of Innovation and Growth website. In the application form you need to specify the following points:
- business plan;
- the market where the company is going to work;
- client network;
- explanation of why your idea is innovative and will be successful;
- patents or awards, confirming the potential of your business (if any).
The application is to be completed in Bulgarian or English.
Who considers the application
The application for a startup visa in Bulgaria is reviewed by different entities. Among them are the Ministry of Education, members of various business communities, the Patent Office, etc. They evaluate the prospects of the idea, and if everything looks great, they make a positive decision.
The period for considering the application
The total time for obtaining a residence permit takes 3 months. This includes:
- 1 month which is granted for the startup visa obtaining;
- 1 month for a "D visa" which entitles the applicant to stay in Bulgaria for 180 days;
- 2 weeks for obtaining a long-term residence permit.
The period can be extended if the committee decides that additional certificates are needed.
How long is the residence permit valid
A residence permit is issued for a period of 1 year. It can be extended depending on the success of the company and other criteria. For example, Bulgarian capital in the share must be at least 50%.