Back to the studio… …of “Business Start”, with commentary on a very interesting topic its a continuation of a topic that we have already discussed in the sdutio Whether Bulgaria is interesting destination for foreign investors, who, are not only looking to develop business in the country, but also want to live and work here The new amendments of the law of the foreigners… to certain extend… has turned upside down… These problems… we will now discuss with lawyer Hristo Vasilev – Hello .. – Good morning… We have talked with you before in this studio, that there is an increased interest from foreign citizens to… to invest, to work in Bulgaria…. and to eventually subsequently obtain Bulgarian passport ..which appears to be an important option… for most of them the latest amendments of the law for the foreigners are stipulating some of the conditions for obtaining Bulgarian long term visas… Why is this important? And in what direction were made these changes? In recent years, we have to admit, that Bulgaria is being approached with increased interest by many foreigners… due to the good business conditions, the good state of the public finances… We can easily say that there is a steadily increased interest for investments in Bulgaria because the conditions… and the strategic position at the crossroad… has very advantageus economical factors… are attracting these investors from abroad, who wish to stay and reside in Bulgaria… and to do business… The law for the amendment of the Law for the Foreigners… …is a very successful step in order to facilitate the foreigners to reside in Bulgaria the Law seeks a balance between the rights and the interests of the foreigner and the interest … of the Bulgarian state, not to allow any abuses… to avoid all risks… in fact…. to open wider the doors to those who are willing to invest in Bulgaria and get visa…. from other side, others are looking to strengthen this control …as you were saying… yes, yes, from one side there are foreigners who seriously are willing to invest in Bulgaria to live, to open new jobs, to pay taxes and salaries… from other side there is an increased flow of immigrants that brings some tension in the Bulgarian society and this creates a little, probably… a certain barrier for the lawmaker to go to the end… in its will to attract new economic flows to Bulgaria… and that is why, some of the so desired amendments… from the foreseen amendments in the law, were not enforced… as for example, the requirement for purchasing of real estate to be decreased from 600 000 to 100 000 BGN which provides the right of long term residency… did not happen, because there was some tension in the Parliament about this clause… to be decreased the required minimum of the value of the real estate properties… ..which need to be purchased in order to obtain long term residency… so there are concerns that this will provide the opportunity for this option to a very wide circle of people… and the situation can get out of control, one way or another. Is this the reason why… …of the lawmaker? to avoid this happening? Well yes, I think that in this regard there appeared to be certain tension…. we are still hoping that maybe in one later stage… the minimum requirement for the real estate purchase… will be decreased and that will provide the opportunity… to obtain long term residency in Bulgaria to these foreigners who have purchased real estate and who don’t have to look for another loopholes The other interesting measure was the one that long term visas will be given to people who are investing and will open 10 jobs on permanent basis Yes, this amendment of the law… existed in the previous version of the bill… in the law for the foreigners, but with this amendment in fact is specified that these 10 jobs need to be in full working time… before, it was not like that. The law is now clear and stipulates that the 10 jobs need to be for full working time… and this is valid for each shareholder separately, and the aim is… The lawmaker aims at…. This is one of the measures that relates to the increased control on the whole process… Do we have reason to say that until now there has been some increased on the number of the cases… when there were attempts for abuses… for exploring of loopholes so fictitiously activity has been used to only obtain visa or… Yes, the aim of the law is not to allow, through hollow economic structures, such as trade companies or trade representatives, established in Bulgaria… to obtain long term residency visas…. because it is not possible, through a fictitiously actives to obtain residency in Bulgaria… without doing anything real and serious… Are there signals that such practices have been utilized? or.. more often in the last years…. Or we can not determine that and the measures are simply for prevention…. I think that in fact, for such practices, one can speak only partially… Indeed, such practices in my opinion do exist… because the foreigner seeks any loophole… to stay in Bulgaria, because Bulgaria is, as we have said, an attractive place… Yes, of course, this is also some form of entry to the European Union and sort of a “ticket”… …and apart from that, from the attempts though hollow entities… are there… are there any other legal risks related to this process? obtaining permanent residency visas… obtaining citizenship to foreigners who are investing… Are there any… how should I say… hidden dangers that need to be considered? I think that with these amendments, the lawmaker guarantees very well the interests of the Bulgarian state… and is seeking a balance between the rights of the foreigners and the interests of the Bulgarian state… at this stage I think that… these changes adequately arrange the relations with the foreigners who want to stay in the territory of Bulgaria, or are staying already… one new amendment is that… the foreigner can appeal a visa rejection… by the administrative procedure code which is one additional opportunity to the foreigner to defend himself if he is unjustifiably or unlawfully has been rejected a visa and the court… can overrule this rejection So this is another change that is in favor of the foreigners… Do you think that… you started this conversation with that, that at the moment…. The tension around all that is being made by… by the increased immigrant flow to Europe as a whole and in particular to Bulgaria… Will it be more difficult from now on to separate these two cases? The foreigners who are looking at all cost to enter Europe and get some status of permanent residency… And these who are really looking to develop business… I think that the task of the state institutions is exactly as that currently… To be possible to separate these two cases… From one side, the refugees, they need to… to be treated according to all norms and conditions of the law… from other side, all foreigners who want to be… who want to be involved in Bulgaria, to invest…. for them.. there must be provided with all conditions… to enable them to work without any problems in Bulgaria… and to contribute to the economy, to the development of the economy… One of the things for example, one of the amendments in the law of the foreigners… is the introduction of the term “apatrid”(stateless) person who has no… who has no citizenship, no fatherland… yes Will that be not a subject of abuses? Will there will be no people, for who it is difficult to determine where are they coming from… Will not apply for such document … and consequentially Bulgaria will not know what to do with them, in reality… Yes, we must say, we must stress that…. that the subject of stateless persons is new in the law of the foreigners… Bulgaria is applying two conventions… For the statute of the people without citizenship and for decreasing the number of apatrids (stateless persons) The two conventions are adopted by the UN We must say that the law offers guarantees for for that, that the rights and the interests of the stateless persons need to be defended… because this is our responsibility under the two conventions… From other side, the question about eventual abuses is also interesting. Whether there will be abuses with this status that the Bulgarian state provides to the apatrids I think that the law provides enough guarantees so that there is enough information and evidences that the person abuses its status of apatrid then can this status be revoked by the Bulgarian state… I think that for now, the law provides guarantees against such abuses. Is the status of these people different if compared to the status of the other people who seek shelter? or status of refugees or status of temporarily living in the country… How are they different? So… they are different with their rights that are provided by the two conventions… because they have the right… to be treated by the laws of the country where they are living, which is providing them with the status of apatrid… They have the right to work, to buy real estate and other properties (goods)… to organize their trade entity… They have special rights under the two conventions. And to them is provided the most advantageous treatment. So they are not immediately becoming citizens of the country… Yes, certain conditions are being provided to them so they can be integrated easily into the Bulgarian society. Because the aim and the idea of the conventions is… is to decrease the number of stateless persons as this is one unwanted conditions in the legal world… to exist people without citizenship and this is considered as unwanted condition… Here comes the question as to whether these people would like to be granted this status in Bulgaria in particular… or.. because this was another discussion… they often use it as a “springboard” to reach western Europe… we are talking about the refugees in particular…. Yes, we have to see Bulgaria as a “desire” of the foreigners to enter into the European Union… as part of the EU… We have to see ourselves as part of the EU. Why are we so attractive to the foreigners? Because we are part of the European Union! When they enter here in Bulgaria, they are entering the European Union. And are entitled to all rights and obligations which has the European citizen… And with all benefits and legal risks for the Bulgarian state that we talked about… And this distinction between the two cases that needs to be done… Thank you very much for this commentary! It was Hristo Vasilev with his point of view… for that how the legal regulations can assist… so that the foreigners can be real… and helpful economic addition to the Bulgarian economy.