Employer Alert: Regulatory changes facilitate the access to the labor market in Bulgaria for highly-qualified foreigners

Due to recent regulatory changes employers will be able to hire highly qualified foreigners from outside the EU more efficiently. This is good news for companies based in Bulgaria, especially those in the ever expanding IT sector where the demand for talents has been on the increase for the last several years. In the last days of its work, the 48th National Assembly managed to adopt several changes that affect the access of such highly qualified foreigners to the Bulgarian labor market*.

The access to the labor market for highly qualified foreigners has been expanded

Access to the labor market with a residence and work permit type “European Union Blue Card” can now be obtained not only based on acquired higher education in the relevant field, but also on the basis of proven professional experience. The agreed employee’s gross salary still shall be at least 1.5 times higher than the average salary in Bulgaria, according to available data for the last 12 months. Additionally, foreigners who have been granted international protection (refugee status or humanitarian protection) in Bulgaria or in another EU member state now can also apply for the EU Blue Card.

The application procedure has been simplified

The latest changes have further shortened the deadlines for completing the EU Blue Card procedure, which shall be completed within the maximum 3-month period. It shall also be possible to submit the application electronically but only after the corresponding technical conditions have been created for in the Ministry of the Interior. The conditions for changing employers within the validity period of the residence and work permit have also been simplified. The validity term of the EU Blue Card depends on the term of the concluded employment agreement with a Bulgarian employer, the duration of which can now be between 6 months and 5 years.

Additional rights for Blue Card holders

The EU Blue Card holders could now also work remotely. However, it might lead to changes in the address registration of the foreigner. In addition, the EU Blue Card makes it possible to travel on business trips in other EU member state for a period of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. Finally, like persons with a long-term and permanent residence permit in Bulgaria, EU Blue Card holders shall now be insured by their employers in the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund. The legislation changes shall be evaluated positively in view of the possibility of attracting and retaining specialists from non-EU countries, which are lacking in the Bulgarian labor market. In this perspective, the needs of foreign investors in the country in terms of mobility and human resource management will also be met.

* The changes were introduced by amendments and supplements to the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Act, Pub. in State Gazette, no. 8 of 25.01.2023.