The regulation regarding the employment of third-country employees is provided within Directive 2014/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers and within Directive 2014/66/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer.
The most important legal acts regarding this matter includes the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act (LMLMA) and the Regulations for Implementation of the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act.
The European Union Blue Card (the EU Blue Card) single work and residence permit is issued to third-country employees who will be engaged within the highly-qualified employment sectors in Bulgaria.
What does “highly-qualified employment” mean?
This concept is defined by it. 1 of the Additional Provisions of the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act. "Highly qualified employment" is the employment of a person who possesses the necessary skills for the job - high education qualifications, attested by a diploma, certificate or other document issued by a competent authority, gained after at least three years of education, conducted by an educational institution, recognized as a higher education establishment by the respective state.
This concept also includes all regulated jobs, as follows: architects, veterinarians, doctors, medical professionals, members of the ship's crew, lawyers, accountants and others.
This procedure also enables employment in Bulgaria for IT and software professionals from non-EU Member States.
The gross monthly salary, specified within the employment contract of the third-country employee, shall be at least 1.5 times higher than the average salary in the Republic of Bulgaria, according to the data available for the last 12 months prior to the conclusion of the employment contract, which generally means roundabout 1,700 Leva up to the present moment (November 2018).
Maximum number of the third-country employees
According to Art. 7, Paragraph 1, item 2 of LMLMA the total number of third-country employees, working for a local employer for the preceding 12 months, shall not exceed 20 percent of the average number of the following employees - Bulgarian citizens listed as hired on employment relationship, citizens of other EU Member States, of countries -parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or of the Swiss Confederation and individuals under Art. 9, para. 1, items 2-6. For small and medium-sized enterprises within the meaning of Art. 3, Para. 1, item 1 of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Act the maximum amounts to 35 per cent.
The procedure for issuing of "EU Blue Card" work and residence permit takes place in three stages:
1. Procedures before the Bulgarian Employment Agency – the procedure is being initiated by the employer, who submits the application to the head office of the Employment Agency, having the following address: Dondukov Blvd. 3, Sofia, Bulgaria.
A number of document, some of them are listed below, shall be attached to the application:
- proof of education, professional qualifications and appropriate professional experience of the third-country employee, duly certified, translated into Bulgarian and meeting the requirements of the job description;
- informal justification of the employer, in which he sets out his motives for the employment of the respective employee;
- declaration by the employer - the employer shall submit a declaration about the third-country employee together with the employment contract; On the basis of this declaration, it shall be decided whether the statutory number of third-country employees is exceeded;
The employer shall declare that the terms of the employment and the salaries offered are no less favorable than the conditions for the Bulgarian employees for the relevant category of employment.
The Bulgarian Employment Agency issues a permit for access to the labour market within a (prescribed) period of 15 days, and if there are gaps or additional documents to prove certain stated facts, the Employment Agency grants an additional period of 15 days for removal of the inconsistencies. After obtaining of the the work permit, the employer has to pay a fee of BGN 400,- for the "EU Blue Card" and the license itself will be issued upon presentation of the proof for payment.
2. Visa D
A copy of the work permit is being sent to the third-country employee, who then has to apply for a long-stay Visa D at the Bulgarian embassy in his state of residence, which entitles him to enter Bulgaria and stay there for up to 6 months.
3. Migration department
Once the person has settled into Bulgaria, within 14 days before the end of the approved six-month residence period, he/she shall apply to the district administration of the Migration department for the issuing of the “EU Blue Card”. The application must be accompanied by the following documents:
- a copy of a valid passport - the pages with the passport photo and personal details, a visa according to Art. 15 (1) of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act;
b) proof for the payment of the state fee;
- evidence of the existence of a residence address - a rental agreement with notary verification of the signatures, together with a notary verified declaration from the owner of the property, who expresses his approval the foreigner to live in this property.
- health insurance certificate, valid on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria;
- Certificate showing no previous convictions, issued by the employee’s state of origin or the state of his residence - only when the employee applies for a first time.
The Migration department decides within 7 days and issue/rejects the issuing of the EU Blue Card residence permit.
1. The "EU Blue Card" is limited in its duration (it is issued for one year period) and provided that the conditions for its granting are met, it may be extended for additional one year period.
2. According to Art. 20 of the LMLMA during the first two years of highly qualified employment the EU Blue Card holder could exercise activities meeting the conditions under which the EU Blue Card was issued, just on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. For this period the EU Blue Card holder could change his employer only after receiving a written decision from the Employment Agency under terms and conditions determined by the Regulation for the implementation of the act.