Bulgaria is effectively selling citizenship for £150,000, according to an investigation by undercover reporters for the Daily Telegraph. As Bulgaria is an EU state, anyone who acquires citizenship there is allowed to settle and work in any other EU country, including the UK.
The requirements for foreigners to pay the equivalent of £150,000 and visit the country just twice are the least stringent in Europe, and carry no obligation to actually live and work in Bulgaria.
The Telegraph claims that “so long as applicants can deposit sufficient funds, they need only visit the east European country for two days to obtain all the rights of EU citizens.
“Even someone with a criminal record who has been turned down for a British passport can qualify for Bulgarian citizenship under the scheme, agents brokering the deal said.”
A passport broker told the undercover reporters that “when you become a Bulgarian citizen, then you have all the rights of an EU citizen, you live, study, work, anywhere within the European Union.”
There was controversy at the start of this year when the UK government lifted restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants. Although the number of new arrivals from those countries has not been as large as some had feared, these revelations will cause concern that other EU states can award citizenship on very lax requirements.
The Telegraph says that “hundreds of foreign nationals are already believed to have applied for EU citizenship under the scheme.”