Foreigners who are highly qualified workers may obtain an EU Blue Card residence and work permit in Bulgaria. More often, this procedure is used for employment of IT and software specialists from non-EU Member States.
According to the Bulgarian Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act “high skill employment” is the hiring of a person who possesses the necessary competences for occupying a position: a degree of higher education evidenced by a diploma, certificate or other document issued by a competent authority following a course of study with a duration of no less than three years delivered by an educational institution recognised as a school of higher learning by the relevant country.
The Law also requires the gross remuneration indicated in the employment contract of the worker third country national to be at least 1.5 times higher than the average wage in Bulgaria for the past 12 months preceding the signing of the employment contract. As well, the employment contract shall not be shorter than 12 months.
The total number of foreigners working for the Bulgarian employer over the past 12 months shall not exceed 20 % of the average number of Bulgarian nationals, citizens of other EU Member States, of states parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or of the Swiss Confederation hired under an employment contract. For small and medium-sized enterprises the maximum number is up to 35 %.
The maximum term of validity of the EU Blue Card is up to 4 years.
In case the term of the employment contract is shorter, the permit is issued for a period equal to the contract term plus three months and may be extended. The members of the family of the Blue Card holder may obtain prolonged-stay permits with a period of validity corresponding to the period of stay of the EU Blue Card holder concerned.
During the first two years the holder of an EU Blue Card:
- may engage in business activities conforming to the terms and conditions of issuance of the EU Blue Card, solely in Bulgaria;
- can change his/her employer only with the prior written permission of the Employment Agency.
If the EU Blue Card holder becomes unemployed, he/she has the right to seek employment and start a new job within three months from losing the previous one. The unemployment period is not a reason to revoke a EU Blue Card or to refuse a residence extension to its holder, unless the unemployment period exceeds three consequitive months or occurs more than once within the validity period of the EU Blue Card.
When applying for initial access to the labour market and for extending the duration of the EU Blue Card, the requirement that the foreigner has to be outside the territory of Bulgaria does not apply.
A permit for access to the labor market
Firstly, the employer submits to the head office of the Employment Agency a standard form application for access to the labour market. The employer declares that the available conditions of work and remuneration are not less favourable than those for Bulgarian nationals for the respective category of labour. It is also necessary documents for education, professional qualification and professional experience of the third-country national, duly certified and translated into Bulgarian, to be submitted. A copy of a fixed-term employment contract, which enters into force from the date of issuing of the residence document of the third-country national, as well as a copy of the job description are also needed.
The Executive Director of the Employment Agency decides to grant the permit within 15 days of the submission of the application and notifies the employer in writing.
For issuing of this permit the employer shall pay a fee of BGN 100.
A long-term residence Visa type D
After that, the foreigner must submit the relevant documents, including the permit for access to the labor market, for obtaining a long-term residence Visa type D with a validity term of up to six months.
The application for issuing a long-stay visa is submitted only in the Bulgarian diplomatic and consular missions at the permanent place of residence of the applicant or the missions accredited in the state of the applicant’s permanent residence.
When an application for a Visa type D is submitted, a charge of 100 euro shall be collected.
An EU Blue Card
After receiving the visa, the foreigner shall apply to the Migration department of the Ministry of Interior for the issuing of the EU Blue Card. The application shall be submitted not later than seven days prior to the expiry of the period of stay of the foreigner within the territory of the country.
He/she submits in person a standard form application, attaching thereto:
- a copy of a valid passport or document issued in lieu of a passport showing the pages containing the photograph, the identification particulars, a visa D type and the latest Bulgarian entry stamp. For verification of the authenticity of the copy, the original of the passport or document issued in lieu of a passport shall be presented as well;
- compulsory medical insurance valid for the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The services for administrative control of foreigners attach to the application a copy of the permit for access to the labor market of a third-country national.
The Ministry of Interior issues the EU Blue Card within 7 days from submission of the application.
In case the information or documents provided in support of the application are insufficient, the Migration department notifies the applicant of the additional information and documents that are required and sets a time limit of 7 days for providing them.