Can you continue your fast-track citizenship application under the old conditions of the program?
After the new Bulgarian citizenship by investment program passed through the parliament and was published in the State Gazette on 12.03.2021, many were relieved. Not only because the conditions of the new program were much better than expected. There was also some relief, because the new program contained certain clauses (aka grandfather clauses) that allowed the candidates who have already started the CBI procedure, to continue under the old conditions.
Basically, there are two such clauses. The first clause is contained in the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship and the other in the Law for the foreigners.
The grandfather clause in the Law for the Bulgarian citizenship
The first clause concerns those who have already obtained permanent residence under the old program. These citizenship candidates will be allowed to continue their applications under the old program, provided that certain conditions are met. We will go into the legal details of this clause in future article, so stay tuned.
While the first clause is clear and straightforward, for the second one, we might need to study Einstein’s general theory of relativity first, in order to get the grasp of it. Sounds confusing? Oh, wait to see…
The grandfather clause in the Law for the foreigners
Suppose you have already started your citizenship by investment procedure under the old program. You have eventually made the required investments (ie bought Eurobonds). Or you have even obtained Bulgarian visa-D. You may have even applied for permanent residence permit, but you haven’t yet obtained it. Still, you have done a hell of a lot of things towards your final goal – the Bulgarian passport.
Under this scenario, can you continue your application under the old conditions or not?
Franky speaking, the conditions of the new program are even better than the old ones. But if you have already bought Bulgarian Eurobonds (under the old program), these can’t be used with the new program. So logically, you may want to be able to work your way through under the old conditions, rather than selling your bonds and start from scratch. So can you?
The answer is, surprisingly both YES and NO. Here even Einstein’s relativity theories are useless, although they will still come handy a bit later. In fact, the situation reminds us much more of the quantum duality and Shrodinger’s wave function. The answer to this question is like the position of the electron; it may be here, it may be not, but you have no way of knowing it. The moment you try to find out, the function will collapse and it will materialize somewhere, but you don’t know where. You can only calculate the probability, but without certainty. If you are confused already, then we are on the right track. Bear with us…
What is the grandfather clause stipulating exactly?
The Bulgarian lawmakers have done a great job, at least partially. They have passed a text that is saying:
Proceedings initiated and not completed by May 31, 2021 on granting decisions and issuing residence and work permits to third-country nationals under the Foreigners Law and the Law on the Labor Migration and Mobility will be completed as per the existing rules.
So far so good. Even perfect. The clause is brilliant and quite clear. If you have already started the procedure, you can submit your application for visa D and permanent residence until 31.05.2021. In such case, your application will be processed by the conditions of the old program. So if you have bought your Eurobonds already, there is no need to panic. You have two months and a half to apply for visa D and/or permanent residence before the end of May’21 and you are all set. But wait, didn’t we mention Schrodinger and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? We did, because the lawmakers didn’t stop here…
What they also added was:
The above clause will be enforced on June 1st, 2021.
What the ****?
So what this all mean? Quantum duality? Time travel? Basically what we have is Stephen Hawking’s dream to bridge quantum physics and general relativity. The Bulgarian parliament has made his dream come true with a 4 seconds voting procedure.
The (im)possible scenarios
So now suppose that you have purchased your Bulgarian Eurobonds, but don’t have yet visa-D or permanent residence. If you apply for those from now till 23:59h on May 31st, 2021, your application will be not accepted, as it must be handled as per the new CIP. This is indeed so, because the grandfather clause is not yet enforced (will be enforced on June, 1st).
But you are smart ass and you know that patience pays off. So you wait until June 1st and the very first second after the clause is enforced, you submit your documents. But wait, then your documents will be again rejected, as they are not “initiated and not completed by May 31, 2021” (but one second later). So they must be compliant to the new CIP.
Ok then, lets try something more spicy. Lets suppose that you have already applied for your visa D or residence permit before the new law was even born, but you haven’t yet obtained them. So far this looks like a promising scenario that may indeed wake-up Schrodinger’s cat. But in this case, the authorities now (until 01.06.2021) will be approving applications as per the new program. As you have applied some time ago, when there was no new law, your investment is not compliant with the new program. This means that your application will be now rejected (until June 1st). But what if the authorities are really slow and they pick up and examine your file after June 1st? Then you hit the bingo – your application is “initiated and not completed by May 31, 2021” and the decision of the authorities is after June 1st so the grandfather clause can be enforced.
But hey, isn’t all that ridiculous?
It certainly is. It is a nonsense beyond comprehension. But this is the law and we are living in law-abiding society.
But it gets even worse, read on!
Suppose you are a freshman and you are starting everything just now. And you are applying for visa D or permanent residence permit until June 1st, 2021. In such case, your documents must be compliant with the new program. So far so good (and quite logical). And now imagine for a second that your visa D or permanent residence is not approved until June 1st. This is very probable scenario, as you may lodge your application any time from now until June 1st, even on May 31st. So if your application is not approved by June 1st, then it will be approved after June 1st. But then the grandfather clause strikes and your documents are “initiated and not completed by May 31, 2021“, so they must be compliant with the old program. But they are obviously not, as they are certainly compliant with the new program. So they will be again rejected.
We will resort again to the good ole Albert…
Of course all this is ridiculous misunderstanding that will need to be corrected asap. We will take all required legal actions with the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court. In the meantime, we anticipate some of our clients to file lawsuits against the state and to get compensated, as they have this right under the Bulgarian Constitution.