Тhe signing of an employment contract with a foreign citizen is regulated by the following acts: the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (FRBA), the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act (LMLMA), the Regulations on the Application of the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act (RALMLMA).
Employers are entitled to hire foreign citizens within in Republic of Bulgaria only if they have obtained a work permit from the Employment Agency to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. According to Art. 7, para. (4) of the LMLMA, the duration of the obtained work permit shall be for the duration of the contract with the local employer, but for no longer period than 12 months. The work permit could be prolonged for no longer than 3 more years, provided that the initial employment conditions have not been changed.
There are several types of residence permits for foreign citizens in Bulgaria, according to Art. 23 of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act:
- Short-term residence permit – up to three months in every six-month period, commencing as of the entry date in Republic of Bulgarian;
- Residence permit for an extended period- for a maximum period of 1 year;
- Long-Term residence permit – issued for five years with a renewal option;
- Permanent residence permit – for an indefinite time period;
The above provisions apply for long-term residing foreigners, who intends to work under an employment contract in Bulgaria.
The work permit is issued by the Employment Agency in Republic of Bulgaria, following the request of the local employer or the local person, providing employment services to the foreign citizen, sent on a business trip. Employers shall observe that the foreigner could obtain a work permit, after complying with the following restrictions:
- access to the labour market shall be allowed when taking up positions do not require Bulgarian citizenship;
- in compliance with the state of the Bulgarian labour market, its development and the public interests;
- provided that in the preceding 12 months the total number of third-country nationals, working for a local employer, does not exceed 20 percent of the average number of persons-Bulgarian nationals listed as hired on employment relationship;
- where the proposed conditions of work and pay are not less favorable than those for Bulgarian citizens for the respective labour category;
- the foreign citizen possesses knowledge, skills and professional experience necessary for the corresponding position;
A work permit for a foreigner cannot be issued on the basis of conditions and restrictions, which differ to the above mentioned.
No work permit is required for the following foreign citizens:
- who possess a long-term or permanent residence permit;
- who have been provided a right of sanctuary;
- who are refugees or under humanitarian protection;
- for whom the right to work in the country is provided by an international treaty to which Bulgaria is a contracting party;
- foreigners, who are family members of Bulgarian citizens or EU citizens, or citizens of a state which is a contract party under the European Economical Agreement or Switzerland;
- who are family members of a foreigner who is in possession of a long-term residence permit;
- who are nautical persons under Art. 88 of the Merchant Shipping Code;
The Minister of Labour and Social Policy may authorize the issuance of work permits in specific cases beyond the above listed, where it is appropriate.
EU - Blue Card
Another legal basis for a foreign citizen to obtain a residence and work permit in Bulgaria is the unified residence and labour permit, type “EU-Blue Card”. The so-called EU - Blue Card allows access to the Bulgarian labour market. This permit is generally issued by the Managing Director of the Employment Agency.
In order to apply for an EU-Blue Card the foreigner should possess university degree of at least three years of studying, should acquire work permit as a highly qualified professional and a Visa for long-term residency, according to Art. 15 of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (FRBA). In addition, the gross monthly salary, specified in the employment contract, shall be at least 1.5 times higher than the average gross monthly salary in the Republic of Bulgaria for the last 12 months prior to the signing of the employment contract. This permit is issued by the Bulgarian National Employment Agency in 15 calendar days after filing of the application together with all the necessary documentation. The procedure is to be initiated by the local employer who intends to hire the foreigner and is thus required to pay the initial state fee. Based on the work permit for exercising of highly qualified employment, the Ministry of the Internal Affairs issues the work and residence permit, type EU-Blue Card. The EU-Blue Card holder has equal rights to the Bulgarian citizens in the terms of working conditions, payment, education, payment of the pension provided, recognition of education certificates, etc.
Following the entering of the Republic of Bulgaria into the European Union as of 1st of January 2007, all the EU citizens of the EU are allowed to free access to the Labour market in Bulgaria, without being obliged to have a work permit.
Administrative penalties, imposed in case of violations
In case a foreign citizen works on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria without having a work permit, if such is required, a fine between BGN 500 and BGN 5000 is being imposed on both him and his employer - physical person. The amount of the fine imposed on the employer, in case the latter is a legal entity in the Republic of Bulgaria varies between BGN 2 000 to BGN 20 000.
Here you can also get information about the social insurance contributions EU citizen in Bulgaria.
Here you can also get information about the work of a third-country citizens in Bulgaria.