Bulgaria Moves to End Its Semi-Direct CBI Program, Cites EU Concerns, Limited Economic Benefit

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Following a proposal from the Ministry of Justice, the Bulgarian cabinet yesterday decided to back a bill to end the country’s semi-direct citizenship by investment program, citing a dearth of “real investment” and EU concerns about such programs.

A statement from the administration indicated that the majority of those who had qualified for citizenship through the program had done so by purchasing government securities or making bank deposits and that most had liquidated these positions very shortly after receiving citizenship.

Moreover, the European Commission has threatened to initiate infringement proceedings against the country, as it has already done with Malta and Cyprus.

According to information obtained by Euractiv, 96 investors have so far received citizenship via this route. The same newspaper commented that, according to “unofficial information”, Bulgaria’s continued operation of the program was one of the reasons the country remains excluded both from the Schengen zone and from the United States’ visa-waiver program.

The government will now submit its bill to the National Assembly, where its coalition currently holds an absolute majority of the seats. Abolishing the program would require the repealing of two separate articles of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act.

Yesterday’s decision by the Bulgarian government coincided with the European Commission’s announcement that it would propose a partial suspension of the visa-waiver agreement with Vanuatu over that country’s operation of citizenship by investment programs.

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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