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Work in Bulgaria with EU Blue card

The EU Blue Card is issued by the Ministry of Interior after the Employment Agency has provided official approval. The document is granted to non-EU nationals who apply for a residence permit for the purpose of high-skilled employment.

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Who qualifies as a Highly Skilled Worker in Bulgaria?

According to the Employment Promotion Act a “highly skilled worker” is a person with relevant qualifications for the applied job which can be proven with:

  • at least 5 years of related work experience or
  • a university diploma, certificate, or another kind of official document that’s issued by a public education institution. The educational institution's legal status must be recognised as a higher education institution from the respective country. The length of education should not be shorter than three full school years.

Where Is The Blue Card Application Submitted To?

Тhe application for issuing the work permit is submitted to the Migration Directorate or the department/sector/group "Migration" at the regional directorates of the Ministry of Interior by the employer or a person authorised by him or personally by the foreigner, in case of a long-term residence permit, and the application shall be signed by the employer. The department/sector/group "Migration" can carry out an inspection when there are reasonable doubts that the foreigner may not reside at the address specified by him, and the inspection report is sent together with the application.

The foreigner with an already permitted right of residence in the country is not required to be outside of Bulgaria upon initial application or in case of any subsequent applications.

How Long is the EU Blue Card Granted For?

The permit is issued for a period of up to 5 years. When the term of the employment contract is shorter than three years, the permit is issued for the duration of the contract, extended by 3 months, and may be renewed if there are grounds for it. The 3-month extension allows card holders to seek work in the event of unemployment. The period of unemployment is not a reason for the Director of the Migration Directorate or an official authorized by him to revoke the "EU Blue Card" or to issue a refusal to extend the period of residence of its holder, when the period of unemployment does not exceed three consecutive months or when not occur more than once before the expiration of the "EU Blue Card". The specified right can be used once by the foreigner within the period of validity of the European Union Blue Card.

What Are The Requirements for the EU Blue Card in Bulgaria?

After the application is approved by the Employment Agency, the Ministry of Interior issues the work permit. Employers must take into account that the following restrictions may apply to candidates searching for employment opportunities in Bulgaria:

  • The offered gross salary is at least 1.5 times higher than the Bulgarian average for the last 12 months.
  • Access to the labour market is only permitted for the occupation of positions for which Bulgarian citizenship is not required by law
  • The applicant must have at least 5 years of relevant work experience or hold a Bulgarian, a recognised, or a comparable foreign academic degree.
  • The length of the employment contract should be at least 6 months.

When the application for the EU Blue Card is rejected?

The Migration Directorate will reject the application if:

  • Any of the conditions outlined above are not met.
  • The application was based on incorrect or false information.
  • The applicant presents a threat to public policy, public security or public health.
  • An EU citizen, or an already legally residing non-EU citizen, could fill the vacancy.
  • The employer is regarded as guilty of employing illegal workers.

EU Blue Card Document Checklist

Documents required for the issuance of the EU Blue Card:

  • A completed application form.
  • A copy of the passport or a replacement document with the photo pages and personal data of the applicant.
  • Criminal background check - details of any immigration, criminal or civil offences the applicant might have committed.
  • Evidence of secured housing - this should take into account the verification that can be made whether the foreigner will actually reside at the specified address.
  • Justification of the request - in a free text the employer states and justifies his motivation to hire this employee, as well as the reasons why he does not want or cannot hire Bulgarian citizens or foreigners with equal rights with the requested profession, which correspond to those specified in ad requirements. Copies of advertisements for work in local and national mass media and the Internet shall be attached to the justification.
  • Relevant education or work experience:
    • Documents for education, specialty, legal capacity, professional qualification, and experience of the non-EU national worker. These documents must meet the requirements for holding the position, specified by the employer when announcing the job opening.
    • Knowledge, skills and competences, certified by an official document issued by a competent authority, for professional experience at a level comparable to acquired higher education, acquired in the period specified in the list and which is related to the position or sector specified in the employment contract, or when it refers to positions outside this list - knowledge, skills and competences that are certified by an official document issued by a competent authority for at least five years of professional experience at a level comparable to the acquired higher education, and which are related to the position or sector, specified in the employment contract.
  • Declaration from the employer that the conditions of work and payment are met and that they are not less favourable than the conditions for Bulgarian citizens for the respective category of work.
  • A copy of a fixed-term employment contract certified by the employer, concluded under the terms of the Bulgarian legislation, for a position with a National Classification of Occupations and Positions (NCAP) code, signed by the parties and effective from the date of issuance of the residence document to the third-country national. The employment contract shall specify the obligations of the parties concerning the costs of accommodation, medical treatment, insurance, and transport to and from the country of the third-country national worker's habitual residence.
  • A copy of the job description, when it is an integral part of the contract.
  • A document that the conditions for exercising a profession included in the List of regulated professions in the Republic of Bulgaria are met.
  • Compulsory health insurance that is valid in Bulgaria for the entire period of residence, when the foreigner is not insured under the Health Insurance Act.
  • Other documents required under Bulgarian law to take the job offer specified by the employer, if any.

What Happens After The Document Submission?

The Migration Directorate checks the documents, notifying the applicant if any documents need to be corrected, as well as the need to submit additional documents, and sets a 7-day deadline for eliminating the irregularities.

If the documents are not submitted within the above-mentioned term, the director of the Migration Directorate or an official authorised by him shall terminate the procedure for issuing the Blue Card.

The Migration Directorate shall send electronically to the Employment Agency the applications for which the proceedings have not been terminated, together with the attached documents. Apart from that, the applications and the attached documents are also sent electronically to the State Agency for National Security, which must provide a written statement, while the applicant is in the country, or within 10 days after giving an opinion on the visa application.

When the applicant has a long-term residence permit, a reference to the permitted right of residence shall be attached to the application.

Within 14 days from the submission of the application, the Employment Agency sends to the Migration Directorate a written statement on the presence or absence of grounds for granting the applicant access to the Bulgarian labour market.

What is The Official Documentation Collected About the Employer by the Employment Agency?

Through the Application review process, the Employment Agency collects and evaluates official information about the employer.

The Employment Agency requests official information on:

  • The information known about the employer, recorded in the BULSTAT Register, or for the unified identification code (UIC) of the employer.
  • Registration with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, if applicable.
  • The current status - in the case of companies without a UIC.

The Employment Agency requests official information from:

  • The National Revenue Agency for the existence of any obligations of the employer in labour and industrial relations.
  • Executive Agency "General Labour Inspectorate" for enacted penalty decrees for infringements.

The Migration Directorate shall email the employer within 3 days of receiving positive decisions from the competent authorities mentioned above, stating that there are grounds for granting the foreigner access to the labour market. The decision made is also shared with the Consular Relations Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Visa Application Is Started After The Permit Is Issued.

The employer shall inform the work permit applicant of the decision taken.  If the competent authorities have taken a positive decision to issue a work permit, the applicant must submit an application for a D type visa within 20 days. The documents should be sent to a Bulgarian Embassy or Consulate in either the home country or the place of residence of the applicant. The term for visa issuance is between 4 to 6 weeks.

In cases of visa refusal, the Consular Relations Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs the Migration Directorate and the State Agency for National Security.

Within 7 days of entering Bulgaria with a D visa, the applicant must appear in person at the Migration Directorate or the Migration Department at the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of the Interior and present:

  • A copy of their passport page, with a visa stamp.
  • Compulsory health insurance valid in Bulgaria for the period of residence.

Applicants Must Have a D Type Visa To Apply For A Residence Card.

The Director of the Migration Directorate or an official authorised by him shall issue or refuse the issuance of a long-term residence type "EU Blue Card" within 3 days from the submission of the documents specified above.

The applicant shall be notified of the decisions taken on the basis of the application in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Code. The procedure for issuing a long-term residence type "EU Blue Card'' may not be longer than three months. In case of any legal or factual complexity, the deadline for processing the application can be extended by another month, for which the employer or the foreigner is notified in writing.

In the course of the procedure, the applicant or a person authorised by him may withdraw the application, which shall be grounds for terminating the procedure.

Can EU Blue Card holders travel to other EU countries?

EU Blue Card holders can visit other EU countries for up to 3 months during a 6-month period. 

Can EU Blue Card holders bring family members?

EU Blue Card holders are entitled to apply for family reunification to bring their family to live with them in Bulgaria as long as certain conditions are met. 

Can EU Blue Card holders change jobs?

EU Blue Card holders can change jobs and employers, provided they don’t violate permit rules. Although this change requires an immigration status update, the EU Blue Card itself doesn't need to be renewed.

Can EU Blue Card holders work remotely?

There is no specific legal status for such employees. Employees can work remotely as long as they comply with all residence and work permit rules.