Families could get separated for many reasons; one of the most common reasons is work. In addition, parents sometimes travel outside their home country in search of greener pastures to elevate their standard of living. In such situations, coming back together becomes very important. Bulgaria has made it possible through the Bulgarian Family Reunification Visa.
This article explores the Bulgaria Family Reunification visa; it covers the benefits and mode of application. Furthermore, it lists those who need the visa and all they need to get it. We try to make this piece as simple as possible to ensure you understand it to the letter. However, applying for this particular visa can be a bit tricky. Hence, you can seek counsel from an immigration lawyer along the way.
What is the Bulgaria Family Reunification Visa?
The Bulgarian Family Reunification Visa, also known as the Bulgarian Family Visa, is a visa program that allows legal residents of Bulgaria to bring in their families from abroad. This visa is a long-stay visa; hence applicants will have to go for the Bulgaria Type D visa based on duration.
Eligibility Criteria for Bulgaria Family Visa
Not everyone living in Bulgaria can bring their family to live there under the Family visa program. Similarly, not everyone who has a family member in Bulgaria can apply for this visa. As we said before, the process is tricky and picky, too, so you’ll have to be careful. Only the following people can bring their families to Bulgaria under the scheme;
#1. Bulgarian Citizens:
Bulgarian citizens married to a foreigner fall here. It also constitutes those who have adopted a foreign minor and wish to bring them to Bulgaria.
#2. EU/EEA Citizens:
European Union or European Economic Area member-country citizens who wish to bring their family to Bulgaria fall into this category. EU/EEA citizens are exempt from Bulgarian visa requirements; they can visit Bulgaria for up to 90 days visa-free. Beyond that, however, they’ll need to obtain a residency permit. Hence, only non-EU citizens married to EU citizens need a family visa for this process.
#3. Residence permit Holders:
This covers non-EU/EEA citizens in Bulgaria with a residence permit of up to 1 year. Therefore, holders of this permit can help their families apply for a visa through the Family Reunification Visa program.
On the other hand, not all relatives qualify to apply for the Bulgaria Family visa. Bulgaria has strict restrictions on who they consider family for the sake of this scheme. Here are the relatives recognized by the visa program;
A spouse here includes one who is married to a residency permit holder or with whom they are in a cohabitation relationship. This means that Bulgaria recognizes cohabitation partners as spouses as well, so long as you can prove you have been cohabiting for at least two years.
#2. Minor/Dependent Children:
Minor children are those under 18, biological or adopted, whom you choose to bring to join you in Bulgaria. Dependent children are those above 18 (but under 21) financially dependent on you.
Finally, the family reunification visa permits you to bring your parents and your spouse’s parents to Bulgaria. Parents in their old age could get sick and need tending. Hence, the Bulgarian government has deemed that they are included in this program.
Application Requirements for Bulgaria Family Reunification Visa
There are two sides to the application requirements for the Bulgaria Family Reunification visa; that of the Bulgarian Resident and that of the family members in their home country.
For the Bulgarian Resident
The Bulgarian resident here refers to the Bulgarian citizen, EU/EEA resident, or residency permit holder who wishes for their family to come to Bulgaria. They have their part to play in the application process, and that includes the following;
- You must submit an application form (3 months early, in case of delays), filled with all the required details. This application seeks permission for your family to join you in Bulgaria.
- Two passport-sized photographs; these passports must meet the necessary Bulgarian travel requirements.
- Provide a valid National Passport identifying you as a citizen of your home country.
- Next, you should have proof of a stable income, enough to support whatever member(s) of your family you are expecting.
- Proof of health insurance, enough to cover you and everyone else who is coming for the period of their stay.
- Civil certificates are also essential; birth certificates for children and marriage certificates for spouses. If you and your spouse aren’t married yet, you shall provide proof that you have lived together for up to two years.
- You should also provide valid proof of accommodation. It must be suitable for you and your family.
- Proof of payment; you’ll pay the visa fees over in Bulgaria, and your family won’t need to pay again when they apply. The fees cost 80 EUR for adults and 40 EUR for children (between six and twelve years).
For the Family in their Home Country
The other side of the coin is the family looking to relocate to Bulgaria to join a family member who’s already there. The family members seeking to travel will submit the following documents;
- An application form, one for each person traveling under the program
- Two passport-sized photographs for each applicant: All photos must meet the requirements for size, color, background, etc.
- Proof of health insurance provided by the family member on the other side.
- A valid national Passport no older than ten years. Furthermore, it must have at least two blank pages and will remain valid for up to six months beyond your stay in Bulgaria.
- Application fee receipt or any other proof of payment
- Civil documents: e.g., marriage certificate for a spouse, birth certificate for children, birth certificate of the Bulgarian relative for parents, etc.
- Purpose of travel/travel itinerary; stating how long you wish to stay in Bulgaria and how you intend to return.
- A copy of the approval document for Family Reunification
Bulgaria Family Visa: How to Apply
Once you’ve gathered all the documents required for your Bulgaria Family visa application, the process itself follows thus;
- You (that is, the relative in Bulgaria) go to the immigration office in your locality in Bulgaria and request for family reunification visa for your family.
- Wait for a reply, which could take up to three months, depending on the delay times.
- If your application is successful, the office will notify you. The same goes for it is denied. If the latter happens, you can appeal the decision in an administrative court.
- If your application is successful, the office will notify the Bulgarian embassy, consulate, or visa application center in your home country.
- Your family will then have to apply for a Bulgarian long-stay visa which will allow them to come to join you.
- They will visit your home country’s embassy, consulate, or visa application center and present their documents.
- Next, they will schedule an appointment with the embassy for an interview.
- Finally, they will attend the interview and try to ace it. This process from the home embassy side should take about five working days.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. How long is the Bulgaria Family Reunification Visa valid for?
The Bulgarian family reunification visa is a long-stay visa. Hence, its validity depends on your application statement. However, this validity never exceeds one year. If your relative has permanent residency in Bulgaria and you wish to join them permanently, you can apply for permanent residence as well, provided you meet the following conditions;
- You are a spouse of a Bulgarian permanent resident.
- You are an unmarried child (adopted or biological) or dependent on a Bulgarian permanent resident.
Those who get this permanent residency automatically have permission to work in Bulgaria.
#2. Will the Bulgarian Family Visa recognize a same-sex marriage/spouse?
No. The Bulgarian government does not currently recognize same-sex marriage or partnership. Hence, if your same-sex partner wishes to join you in Bulgaria, they cannot do so through the Bulgaria family reunification visa.
#3. How can I get permanent residency in Bulgaria?
To get permanent residency in Bulgaria, you must first obtain permanent residency and renew it every year for five years. Furthermore, you must be physically present in Bulgaria for two and a half years over those five years. Once you have fulfilled these terms, you can apply for Bulgarian permanent residency.
#4. What is a Bulgarian Type-D Visa?
A Bulgarian type-D visa is a long-stay visa issued by the Bulgarian government. It allows an individual legally enter and stay in Bulgaria for as long as is specified. The visa is usually relevant for six months to a year.
#5. How can I qualify for Bulgarian citizenship?
To qualify for Bulgarian citizenship, you must have held permanent residency for at least five years. In addition, you should be above the age of 18.
It is always good for a family to remain together. Hence, Bulgaria has created an easier path to ensure those who leave home for reasons beyond their control can reunite with their families. Remember to seek legal advice if this process overwhelms you, and keep constant contact with your family and the embassy.