At the end of January, important legal changes were adopted governing the conditions and procedure for issuing a long-term residence and work permit of the “EU Blue Card” type. The changes are aimed at facilitating access to the Bulgarian labour market for highly qualified citizens outside the European Union (EU) which could have a positive impact on labour shortages in a number of sectors of the Bulgarian economy.
The “EU Blue Card” can be applied for by foreigners who are eligible to pursue highly qualified employment and at the same time:
The conditions to be fulfilled by the foreigner for the pursue of highly qualified employment are the following:
There is also an important change in the duration of the long-term residence and work permit of the “EU Blue Card” type pursuant to the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. It can be issued for a period of up to 5 years, but not shorter than 24 months. When the duration of the employment contract is shorter than 24 months, the permit is issued for the duration of the contract extended by 3 months but for a maximum period of 24 months. The permit can be renewed if relevant grounds are present.
It is evident that the regulations have been substantially amended and the new provisions will pose new challenges for employers and employees, especially concerning the administrative burden and the need to certify the high degree of professional skills of the candidates. At the same time, expanding the hypotheses under which one can apply for an “EU Blue Card” can make the procedure more attractive for many employers for whom it has been inaccessible for one reason or another. It remains to be seen how the practice of implementing the new legislation will develop and the extent to which the legislative amendments under consideration will contribute to overcoming the problems highlighted in the explanatory memorandum to the bill.