One of the most common public expectations toward migration policies is to assure the proper provisions so that countries do not miss out on important opportunities for growth.

One of the most common public expectations toward migration policies is to assure the proper provisions so that countries do not miss out on important opportunities for growth.

That kind of opportunity has a strong tendency in the area of new technologies and mostly in the field of digital economy.

Newly-created companies and their founders are often in the center of the public attention because the successful ones have a transformational influence on the technologies, they additionally have created new sectors of work load and pushed forward the innovations in many countries. Understandably, creators of policies in the field of highly qualified migration have turned their attention to high-potential business founders and have developed new visa programs to attract and retain emerging talent and their companies.

The programs for Start-up Visa are initiatives aimed at attracting foreign entrepreneurs for creating innovative businesses with high potential.

Most of the countries in the OECD have visa programs for foreign entrepreneurs who have proven their experience and capital to invest in businesses with enough amount and viability. However, Strat-up visas target a category that does not meet the requirements of these existing programs because the business either does not yet exist, has too few employees, has a short history and a negative balance sheet, or the owner has no equity capital.

Until recently, such an opportunity was missing in Bulgaria. At the end of February an Act for amending and supplementing the Bulgarian Citizenship Act was published and on 7 October 2022 the Ordinance for its implementation was published in the last issue of the State Gazette. The text’s transitional and final provisions additionally introduce amendments in the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act, one of which is the creation of the first legal regulation or so called “Start-up Visa”, giving grounds for residence in the country for foreign entrepreneurs, with the aim of developing a high-tech and/or innovative project.

The requirements for the Strat-up Visa are simplified.

Bulgaria has built a reputation as a country that is focused on information technology, attracting a highly skilled workforce from around the world. International companies often engage developers to work in their local R&D centers. The long-awaited Start-up Visa” has finally been introduced, targeting another significant group of foreigners: entrepreneurs and high-risk investors who can turn a company based on Bulgarian territory into the next success story.


The Start-up visa will initially be valid for a period of one year, while after the fulfillment of the necessary conditions (the applicant must own no less than 50 percent of the capital of a Bulgarian commercial company, which subject of activity is the one declared when issuing the certificate) and the applicant’s business plan, the period may be extended for another two years.

1. Issuance of a certificate for a high-tech/innovative project, which helps citizens of 3rd countries (outside the EU) to create and develop their company on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

2. Applications will be submitted to the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, and the documents can be in English or Bulgarian and it is planned that they can be applied electronically.

3. The deadline for consideration will be thirty days from the submission of the application and it will be exempt from state fees.

4. The evaluation will be carried out by an experts council at the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, which will include representatives of the state, business and the academic community. They will be evaluated on criteria such as – Business plan and presentation, customer network, investments, financial security of the applicant, available capital, valid patents or utility model registration certificates.

The Start-up Visa creates a new opportunity – separate from visas for hiring highly skilled specialists – for the country to attract highly qualified foreign talents, promote business growth and create new jobs.

We hope that with the introduction of the Startup Visa, Bulgaria will become a desirable destination for foreign entrepreneurs and this will greatly benefit the country in many ways. Our team remains available for consultation and assistance in issuing a Start-up Visa.

Published on: 14/01/2023

Atty. Marin Sarafov

Marin Sarafov specializes in corporate, commercial and bond law. His main focus is helping both local and foreign investors to gain a foothold in the Bulgarian market, gaining a strong start and a clear concept of the processes ahead. To find the best solutions, Marin relies on experience gained in an international corporate law firm, combined with direct contact with clients, as well as the indispensable help of a good team. A major goal for him is to convey to clients a clear picture of what the options are in front of them, the obvious and hidden risks as well as next steps in order to keep the workflow running like clockwork. Member of the Sofia Bar Association since 2019, fluent in English and German.