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Residence documents of EU nationals (e.g. British subjects) in Bulgaria - grounds, restrictions, penalties

I. Residence documents

The EU nationals could stay freely in Bulgaria up to 3 months without any documents but their national ID. They could stay even longer if they meet the requirements of Chapters III and IV of DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC:

Chapter III, Article 7 of the Directive:

1. All Union citizens shall have the right of residence on the territory of another Member State for a period of longer than three months if they:

(a) are workers or self-employed persons in the host Member State; or

(b) have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State; or

(c) are enrolled at a private or public establishment, accredited or financed by the host Member State on the basis of its legislation or administrative practice, for the principal purpose of following a course of study, including vocational training; and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State and assure the relevant national authority, by means of a declaration or by such equivalent means as they may choose, that they have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence; or

(d) are family members accompanying or joining a Union citizen who satisfies the conditions referred to in points (a), (b) or (c).

2. The right of residence provided for in paragraph 1 shall extend to family members who are not nationals of a Member State, accompanying or joining the Union citizen in the host Member State, provided that such Union citizen satisfies the conditions referred to in paragraph 1(a), (b) or (c).

3. For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), a Union citizen who is no longer a worker or self-employed person shall retain the status of worker or self-employed person in the following circumstances:

(a) he/she is temporarily unable to work as the result of an illness or accident;

(b) he/she is in duly recorded involuntary unemployment after having been employed for more than one year and has registered as a job-seeker with the relevant employment office;

(c) he/she is in duly recorded involuntary unemployment after completing a fixed-term employment contract of less than a year or after having become involuntarily unemployed during the first twelve months and has registered as a job-seeker with the relevant employment office. In this case, the status of worker shall be retained for no less than six months;

(d) he/she embarks on vocational training. Unless he/she is involuntarily unemployed, the retention of the status of worker shall require the training to be related to the previous employment.

4. By way of derogation from paragraphs 1(d) and 2 above, only the spouse, the registered partner provided for in Article 2(2)(b) and dependent children shall have the right of residence as family members of a Union citizen meeting the conditions under 1(c) above. Article 3(2) shall apply to his/her dependent direct relatives in the ascending lines and those of his/her spouse or registered partner.

 

Chapter IV, Article 16 and following of the Directive:

General rule for Union citizens and their family members

1. Union citizens who have resided legally for a continuous period of five years in the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence there. This right shall not be subject to the conditions provided for in Chapter III.

2. Paragraph 1 shall apply also to family members who are not nationals of a Member State and have legally resided with the Union citizen in the host Member State for a continuous period of five years.

3. Continuity of residence shall not be affected by temporary absences not exceeding a total of six months a year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service, or by one absence of a maximum of twelve consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting in another Member State or a third country.

4. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence shall be lost only through absence from the host Member State for a period exceeding two consecutive years.

Article 17

Exemptions for persons no longer working in the host Member State and their family members

1. By way of derogation from Article 16, the right of permanent residence in the host Member State shall be enjoyed before completion of a continuous period of five years of residence by:

(a) workers or self-employed persons who, at the time they stop working, have reached the age laid down by the law of that Member State for entitlement to an old age pension or workers who cease paid employment to take early retirement, provided that they have been working in that Member State for at least the preceding twelve months and have resided there continuously for more than three years.

If the law of the host Member State does not grant the right to an old age pension to certain categories of self-employed persons, the age condition shall be deemed to have been met once the person concerned has reached the age of 60;

(b) workers or self-employed persons who have resided continuously in the host Member State for more than two years and stop working there as a result of permanent incapacity to work.

If such incapacity is the result of an accident at work or an occupational disease entitling the person concerned to a benefit payable in full or in part by an institution in the host Member State, no condition shall be imposed as to length of residence;

(c) workers or self-employed persons who, after three years of continuous employment and residence in the host Member State, work in an employed or self-employed capacity in another Member State, while retaining their place of residence in the host Member State, to which they return, as a rule, each day or at least once a week.

For the purposes of entitlement to the rights referred to in points (a) and (b), periods of employment spent in the Member State in which the person concerned is working shall be regarded as having been spent in the host Member State.

Periods of involuntary unemployment duly recorded by the relevant employment office, periods not worked for reasons not of the person’s own making and absences from work or cessation of work due to illness or accident shall be regarded as periods of employment.

2. The conditions as to length of residence and employment laid down in point (a) of paragraph 1 and the condition as to length of residence laid down in point (b) of paragraph 1 shall not apply if the worker’s or the self-employed person’s spouse or partner as referred to in point 2(b) of Article 2 is a national of the host Member State or has lost the nationality of that Member State by marriage to that worker or self-employed person.

3. Irrespective of nationality, the family members of a worker or a self-employed person who are residing with him in the territory of the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence in that Member State, if the worker or self-employed person has acquired himself the right of permanent residence in that Member State on the basis of paragraph 1.

4. If, however, the worker or self-employed person dies while still working but before acquiring permanent residence status in the host Member State on the basis of paragraph 1, his family members who are residing with him in the host Member State shall acquire the right of permanent residence there, on condition that:

(a) the worker or self-employed person had, at the time of death, resided continuously on the territory of that Member State for two years; or

(b) the death resulted from an accident at work or an occupational disease; or

(c) the surviving spouse lost the nationality of that Member State following marriage to the worker or self-employed person.

 

Articles 7 and following of Chapter III of the Directive set out the criteria that need to be met for registration certificate to be issued regarding continuous stay (up to 5 years). Articles 16 and following of Chapter IV set out the criteria that need to be met for a document, certifying permanent residence (over 5 years), to be issued.

When you have lived in Bulgaria for a continuous period of 5 years in accordance with the European regulations, you may apply for a document certifying permanent residence but you are not obliged to do so. Under European law, you do not need to obtain documentation confirming your right of residence in Bulgaria if you are a national of a country in the EEA:

Article 25 of the Directive:

General provisions concerning residence documents

Possession of a registration certificate as referred to in Article 8, of a document certifying permanent residence, of a certificate attesting submission of an application for a family member residence card, of a residence card or of a permanent residence card, may under no circumstances be made a precondition for the exercise of a right or the completion of an administrative formality, as entitlement to rights may be attested by any other means of proof.

 

 II. Restrictions

The Bulgarian authorities may restrict the freedom of movement and residence of Union citizens and their family members, irrespective of nationality, on grounds of public policy, public security or public health. These grounds shall not be invoked to serve economic ends. The grounds are set out in Article 24 of the EU citizens and Families Entry, Stay and Departure Act:

Article 24 of the Act

1. The residence has become groundless considering the criteria set out in  Chapter III, Article 7 of the Directive (reproduced in Article 8 of the Act);

2. It has been established that the holder of the right of residence had produced false information to obtain it;

3.  The person is absent from Bulgaria for a period, longer than 2 consecutive years;

4. The person suffers diseases with epidemic potential as defined by WHO;

5. When it is ascertained that the person causes a serious threat to the public security or there is evidence that the person conducts activities against the public security or the public policy.

 

If any of the above grounds are present, the following measures could be taken by the relevant authorities:

-          Deprivation of the right of residence

-          Expulsion from the country

-          Prohibition to entry the country


III. Penalties

Pursuant to Article 61 of the Ministry of Interiors Act the police authorities can carry out ID checks, in accordance with their control powers, to establish if your ID or residence papers are in order. The identification process includes: producing ID documents by their holder, providing information by citizens with established identity who know the unidentified person or conducting any other activities to collect reliable information.

Pursuant to Article 31 of the EU citizens and Families Entry, Stay and Departure Act subject to fine within the range of BGN 50-300 is any person who:

-          uses somebody else’s ID or residence document, if the conduct does not constitutes an offence and it is punishable more severely;

-          removes, conceals or destroys an ID document or residence document, if the conduct does not constitutes an offence and it is punishable more severely;

-          does not produce an ID or residence document upon request of the relevant authorities

Pursuant to Article 32 of the EU citizens and Families Entry, Stay and Departure Act subject to fine within the range of BGN 20-150 is any person who:

-          hinders the ID check to be carried out

-          states false information in the application residence documents, if the conduct does not constitutes an offence and it is punishable more severely;

In insignificant cases under Articles 31 and 32 of this Act the fine is up to BGN 20.

Pursuant to Article 270 of the Ministry of Interiors Act if one fails to comply with police order he could face a fine within the range of BGN 100-500.

Pursuant to Article 275 of the Ministry of Interiors Act if one unlawfully hinders the exercise of any of the police powers he could face a fine within the range of BGN 500-1000, unless the misdemeanour is insignificant or constitutes an offence.



24/01/2013

References: DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC, EU citizens and Families Entry, Stay and Departure Act, Ministry of Interiors Act, Foreigners Act, Civil Registration Act.