Bulgaria has finally eliminated its much-maligned Golden Visa Program, citing fears that it might be used to facilitate money laundering, corruption, and other illegal activities.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, indicated last month that the country’s contentious Citizenship by Investment scheme would be phased out soon.
The Golden Visa Program, also known as the Citizenship by Investment plan, permitted foreigners to obtain residency in Bulgaria for a minimum investment of 500,000 euros ($550,000) and citizenship for a total investment of one million euros ($1.1 million).
In addition, Golden Visa holders and their family members were entitled for visa-free travel to all Schengen Zone nations.
Bulgarian officials said last month that the initiative would be ended after the government declared that it would introduce a bill in parliament.
However, it was stated at the time that the bill, which was backed by a large number of Bulgarian legislators, would need to be approved by the government first.
In this regard, the Prime Minister stated that the program would be phased out due to “the lack of meaningful investments in the economy that are likely to create jobs.”
“This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest roadblocks to (Schengen) membership and visa-free travel with the United States.” Golden passports are a vice, and eliminating them is a top goal for the Prime Minister, according to Bulgarian National Television.
According to Euractiv, the Justice Ministry earlier stated that the scheme did not result in genuine investment in Bulgaria.
Furthermore, the same Ministry stated that the Golden Visa scheme would be phased out soon.
According to Al Jazeera, Bulgarian Members of Parliament voted on Thursday to cancel the Golden Visa Program after the plan was criticised by the European Parliament, which took into account Western sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Citizens of Russia, China, and Middle Eastern countries were among the most fortunate recipients of the Golden Visa Program.
Several European nations, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, and Spain, have banned the Golden Visa Program for Russian citizens due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Members of the European Parliament called on European countries that conduct similar programs to discontinue them earlier this month. MEPs also called for the abolition of golden passports.