Is access to the Bulgarian labour market possible? In the last few months, more and more clients of TechLex Law Firm, both companies – employers and individuals, turn to us with questions concerning the residence in the Republic of Bulgaria of EU citizens and foreigners – third country nationals.
With this in mind, in the following few paragraphs we have examined some of the options that the law provides for the pursuit of the respective purposes of legal residence in the country.
Legal residence is а residence that is carried out on a legal basis. The legal grounds recognised by Bulgarian law are the following: visa, international or EU treaties on visa-free regime, acts of EU law (e.g. Directive 2004/38/EC) and authorisation of the services for administrative control of foreigners – the Migration Directorate and the Migration Services of the Ministry of Interior.
Foreigners are allowed to stay without having all the requirements of the law – visa or residence permit, regular documents, etc. but only for a limited amount of time.
The State grants asylum to foreigners persecuted for their beliefs or activities in defence of internationally recognised rights and freedoms, the conditions for which are regulated by a special law.
Access to the labour market for third-country nationals.
The employment of a foreigner with a Bulgarian employer is possible only after the person has obtained a work permit from the Migration Directorate.
After the amendments in 2021, the foreigner is now also entitled to submit the documents for a work permit if he/she has a residence permit on other grounds. Employers should note that a foreigner may obtain a work permit subject to the following restrictions:
– only positions for which Bulgarian citizenship is not required by law may be filled;
– take into account the state, development and public interests of the national labour market;
– the total number of foreigners working for the local employer in the last 12 months may not exceed 20 per cent of the average number of employees under the employment relationship, and for small and medium-sized enterprises within the meaning of Art. 1(1) of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Act- 35 per cent;
The following foreigners do not require a work permit:
– who have a long-term or permanent residence permit;
– who have been granted the right of asylum;
– who have refugee or humanitarian status;
– for whom the right to work in the country is provided for in an international treaty to which Bulgaria is a party;
– foreign nationals – family members of Bulgarian citizens or citizens of a country of the European Union, a country of the Agreement on the European Economic Area or Switzerland;
– family members of a foreigner with a long-term residence permit;
– seafarers referred to in Article 88 of the Merchant Shipping Code.
The Minister of Labour and Social Policy is empowered to authorize the issuance of work permits in individual cases other than those mentioned above upon proven expediency.
There are several common procedures for obtaining a permit to access the labour market, depending on the period for which the person wishes to gain access and the relevant qualification he or she possesses:
– Registration of seasonal employment of up to 90 days of third-country national workers – For seasonal employment of up to 90 days without interruption within any period of 12 months, registration is made with the Employment Agency on the basis of a declaration submitted by the employer and subject to the requirement of Article 24l of the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria.
– “Seasonal worker permit” – The permit is issued to third-country nationals who apply for a residence permit for the purpose of seasonal work from 90 days to 9 months within each period of 12 months.
– “Single Residence and Work Permit” – The SRWP is issued for a period of three years, and where the duration of the employment contract is less than three years, the permit is issued for the duration of the contract.
– “EU Blue Card” – To apply for an EU Blue Card, a foreigner must have completed a university degree based on at least three years of study, be authorised to engage in highly skilled employment, and have a long-term residence visa. This type of permit is issued for a period of up to 5 years but not less than 24 months. Documents required for the issue of an EU Blue Card:
1. Application form
2. A copy of the passport or a replacement document with the photo pages and personal data of the foreigner;
3. Criminal record certificate issued by the state of which the foreigner is a citizen or by the state of his/her habitual residence – in case of initial application for the permit. In the cases under Art. 33k, par. 1(2) of the HRBA, the criminal record certificate shall be issued by the State which has granted international protection status to the foreigner;
4. Evidence of secured accommodation;
5. Justification of the request.
6. Documents certifying the education, specialty, legal capacity, professional qualification and/or experience of the third-country national, duly legalized, accompanied by a translation into Bulgarian certified by a notary public or by the Consular Relations Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and corresponding to the requirements for the position, according to the National Classification of Professions and Positions, 2011 (NCPP).
7. A declaration by the employer that the conditions of work and remuneration have been respected and that they are not less favourable than the conditions for Bulgarian nationals for the relevant category of work.
8. A copy of a fixed-term employment contract, concluded under the terms of the Bulgarian legislation, for a position with a code according to the National Classification of Occupations and Positions, 2011, signed by the parties and effective from the date of issuance of the EU Blue Card type long-term residence and work permit, certified by the employer.
9. A copy of the job description where it is an integral part of the contract.
10. A document that the conditions for exercising a profession included in the List of regulated professions in the Republic of Bulgaria, adopted by a decision of the Council of Ministers on the basis of Article 3 of the Law on Recognition of Professional Qualifications, have been met.
11. Compulsory medical insurance, valid on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for the entire period of residence, when the foreigner is not insured under the Health Insurance Act and has been granted the right of permanent residence on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.
12. Other documents required under Bulgarian legislation for the position indicated by the employer, where such are necessary.
- Self-employment as free profession – business plan must be present and a registration as a self-employed person in the National Revenue Agency as well as in the Commercial Register is required.
In cases where the exercise of the profession and/or activity requires a legal capacity recognised by a Bulgarian authority, an issued permit or licence shall be attached.
What all these procedures have in common is that, first of all, the working conditions and pay must not be less favourable than those for Bulgarian nationals in the relevant category of work. In each of these cases, it must be shown that the employee has secure accommodation.
The employer is obliged to cover at his own expense the transport costs from the employee’s place of origin to his place of work in the Republic of Bulgaria and vice versa, as well as the costs of compulsory health insurance and insurance for the employee.
This does not apply only to an EU Blue Card permit, where a derogation is allowed, and the parties should agree in the contract at whose expense these costs will be borne.
Access to the labour market for EU citizens.
If you are an employer who wants to employ a person who is not a citizen of the Republic of Bulgaria but is a member of the EU, or if you are a person who is a citizen of the EU who wants to enter into an employment relationship with a Bulgarian employer, the key points you should be aware of are:
Firstly, it must be proven to the competent authorities that the EU national has a place to stay in the country – a residence address in Bulgaria is required.
Also, the EU national employee should obtain a foreigner number from the National Revenue Agency. The employer can also apply for the necessary identification number, but this is only possible with an explicit power of attorney. In case the person has a foreign national identity number (FNI) it is used before the NRA and the service number is deleted.
It is also obligatory for the employee to apply to the Migration Directorate or the regional directorates of the Ministry of Interior within three months of entering Bulgaria for a Long-Term Residence Certificate for a period of up to 5 years.
Although the employment process for EU citizens is a lot easier and straight-forward, each of the procedures shown above has its own specificities and particular requirements for successful completion. In case you are interested in initiating any of them, TechLex Law Firm‘s team can familiarize you with the details of each procedure and assist you in every stage of it.