In 2021, 6 500 new immigrants obtained a residence permit longer than 12 months in Bulgaria (excluding EU citizens), 8% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 19.7% labour migrants, 27.5% family members (including accompanying family), 9.9% who came for education reasons and 42.9% other migrants. Around 700 short-term permits were issued to international students and 1 200 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 6 500 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, an 8% increase compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Türkiye, Russia and Ukraine were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Germany registered the strongest increase (+1 200) and Russia the largest decrease (-1 000) in flows to Bulgaria compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 86%, to reach around 20 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (8 600), Afghanistan (7 100) and Morocco (1 700). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Syria (+4 800). Of the 4 820 decisions taken in 2022, 91% were positive.

Emigration of Bulgarian citizens to OECD countries decreased by -2% in 2021, to 82 000. Approximately 51% of this group migrated to Germany, 13% to the Netherlands and 6% to Poland.

Despite the temporary period of political instability, which included several general elections in 2022 and early 2023, the relevant legislative changes in the field of asylum and migration policy have been adopted in the reported period.

The Bulgarian Citizenship Act was amended in March 2022, revoking Article 14a which allowed the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship in return for investment.

In February 2023, the government eased employment requirements for third-country nationals intending to work in a highly skilled occupation. They must now hold a “high professional qualification”, which can include either a higher education degree equivalent to three years of study, or at least five years of work experience related to the job offer. In addition, the minimum employment agreement term to qualify for an EU Blue Card was reduced to six months and the maximum validity of the Card extended to five years.

In 2022, asylum and migration policy changes were mostly dominated by the measures implemented to deal with the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

The amendments to the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act adopted on 3 June 2022 introduced simplified access to Bulgaria’s labour market for Ukrainian citizens benefiting from temporary protection, and they do not require a permit for access to the labour market for the period of temporary protection.

In addition, the amendments to the Employment Promotion Act adopted on 3 June 2022 provide a simplified procedures for Ukrainians to register with the Employment Agency’s Labour Offices and enjoy the rights of jobseekers in provision of employment services. Temporary protection status allows Ukrainians to work in Bulgaria.

With Decision No. 95 of the Council of Ministers of 1 February 2023, the validity period of temporary protection in the Republic of Bulgaria was extended until 4th of March 2024.

In September 2022, Bulgaria singed an Operational Plan with the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) to increase the capacity of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) to implement the Temporary Protection Directive through improvements in digitalisation, reception, provision of information. The Plan was extended until June 2023 and a new Plan was signed in July 2023 to provide support in all phases of the procedure for international protection, including provision of interpretation services for rare languages. The Plan will be implemented until 31 December 2024.

Co-ordination mechanism for interaction between institutions and organisations in cases of unaccompanied children or foreign children separated from their families, located on the territory of Bulgaria, including children seeking and/or receiving international protection has been introduced. Through it, effective co-ordination between institutions and consistency in the fulfilment of obligations of all involved entities in the care and work with these children established in the territory of the country is ensured, in order to guarantee the observance of children’s rights.

The Social Assistance Agency provided Ukrainian refugees with vouchers for food and essential goods, amounting to BGN 100 (EUR 50) each, which were valid for two months. At the end of 2022, more than 25 500 vouchers had been issued.

For further information: www.aref.government.bg | www.nsi.bg | www.mvr.bg

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.