Expat workers seeking positions in Bulgaria have an opportunity to obtain EU Blue Cards.
The EU Blue Card is a legal mechanism available to highly qualified nationals of non-EU member states for living and working in Bulgaria. As a residence and work permit, the EU Blue Card entitles its holder to reside and be employed within the territory of Bulgaria for the purpose of offering highly qualified services.
Generally, foreign employees of non-EU member states who are highly qualified and hold a Bulgarian long-stay visa or already have long-stay permit on another ground may obtain EU Blue Card residence and work permit, while observing a single-application procedure.
The legal framework for obtaining an EU Blue Card in Bulgaria is regulated by the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act, the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act and sub-legislative acts.
Requirements for a third-country national
To be eligible for an EU Blue Card, an applicant should:
- possess the competence required for the job: a higher education degree 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;
- be offered an employment contract with gross compensation amounting to at least 1.5 times higher than the average wage in the Republic of Bulgaria according to official data available for 12 months preceding the signing.
Migration law reform passed in May 2018 has vastly improved the procedure for issuing an EU Blue Card. As a result, the labour market test is no longer required, and the list of available occupations based on shortages of qualified professionals has been removed.
Issuing the Card
For a foreign national to receive a Blue Card, the Bulgarian employer must submit the application for a permit with the Employment Agency. Ultimately, the EU Blue Card residence and work permit is issued by the Ministry of Interior although it carries the approval of the Employment Agency.
Once the EU Blue Card issuance has been approved, the foreign employee should apply for a long-term Type D visa at the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in his home country. This visa is a precondition for the right to enter Bulgaria.
Upon arriving in Bulgaria, and after providing additional documents required for a prolonged stay, the applicant can obtain the EU Blue Card from the Migration Directorate within seven days of arrival.
The EU Blue Card single permit is valid for up to four years. If the relevant employment contract is less than this period, the permit can be issued for the term of the contract plus three months. If necessary, this term can be extended.
During the first two years of employment, the holder of an EU Blue Card may engage in business activities according to the terms and conditions of the EU Blue Card, and solely in the territory of Bulgaria.
After the first two years, the holder of an EU Blue Card can only change their employer with the written permission of the Employment Agency, which will result in the issuance of a new EU Blue Card.
If you would like more information on expat employment in Bulgaria and eligibility for a EU Blue Card, please contact one of our local experts: Iveta Manolova and Maya Aleksandrova.