- Asylum is when a country grants protection on its territory to people from another country who are fleeing persecution or serious danger.
- You have the right to seek asylum if you need international protection, no matter your country of origin.
- You have the right to stay in Bulgaria until you get a decision on your asylum application.
- Whether you plan to stay in Bulgaria or move on to another country, you must submit an application to the State Agency for Refugees.
Who can apply
Anyone, from any country, has the right to seek asylum (international protection) in Bulgaria when persecuted or when there is a threat to his/her life or safety.
You are an asylum-seeker from the time of lodging an application for protection. From that moment onwards you are entitled to remain in Bulgaria until a final decision is made on your application.
How to apply
- Submit an asylum application to SAR
- Attend your asylum interview
During this interview, you will be asked to provide detailed information regarding your asylum application.
Important note: International protection is only granted if you are able to prove that you cannot receive protection in your country of origin. You might be refused international protection if there is a safe place for you to go within your country.
After you apply
SAR will contact you when it has reached a decision on your asylum application.
If your application is successful, you will either be offered:
- Refugee status (full asylum) or
- Subsidiary protection (partial asylum)
These 2 statuses give you slightly different rights.
Refugee status is granted when you have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the country of which you are a citizen, or in which you previously habitually resided due to your:
- Membership of a particular social group
- Political opinion
If you are granted refugee status, you get:
- A refugee card that is valid for 5 years
- You can also request a travel document to travel abroad. This travel document costs 50 leva.
If you are granted refugee status you will have the rights and obligations of a Bulgarian citizen with the exception of:
- Participation in general and municipal elections, and in national and regional referenda
- Participation in the establishment of political parties and membership of such parties
- Holding positions for which Bulgarian citizenship is required by law
- Serving in the army
- Other restrictions explicitly provided for by the law
Subsidiary (humanitarian) protection is given to people who have sought asylum but do not qualify for refugee status.
Subsidiary protection is granted when there is a real risk of serious harm for you, including:
- Death penalty or execution
- Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Serious and personal threat of violence in the case of an internal or international armed conflict in your country of origin
Humanitarian protection may also be granted on other humanitarian grounds.
If you are granted subsidiary protection, you get:
- A card of a foreign national with a humanitarian status that is valid for 3 years
You will have the rights and obligations of a foreigner with a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria. These include the right to:
- Employment without a special permit
- Education in state schools and universities
- Family reunification
- Bulgarian citizenship in 5 years
- Travel abroad - You might be requested to show proof of your medical insurance and financial means for your subsistence over the time planned for your stay.
If you are granted refugee or humanitarian status, your status will not have an end date.
Within 14 days of receiving the decision that grants you international protection, you are obliged to appear in the municipality where you will reside in order to be registered in the population register.
Within 30 days after you are registered in the population register of the respective municipality you must submit an application for the issuance of Bulgarian personal identification documents.
ID documents are issued by the Ministry of Interior, Bulgarian Identity Documents Directorate, based on the decision of the asylum authority. The document is usually issued in 30 days. You can pay for faster delivery within 10 days. After your document expires, it must be renewed. Your refugee status will be maintained.
Important! In cases when your documents have expired, or have been lost, stolen, damaged, you have the obligation to submit a new application to issue new ID document within 30 days. If you do not do that, a procedure to revoke or terminate you international protection might be initiated, unless you can provide evidence that there are objective reasons because of which you were unable to fulfil your obligation.
How long it takes
It typically takes 6 months to get a decision. Your application will first be considered for refugee status. If your application is rejected for refugee status, it will be considered for subsidiary protection. If this happens, the deadline for a decision can be extended for another 9 months. The whole process must be completed within 21 months.
During the application process, your ID documents will be kept by SAR. If you have a justifiable reason to temporarily request your national passport back, you must file a request with SAR.
Check your mail
SAR sends all notices to the address indicated on your registration card. Make sure that you have access to your mail and check it regularly.
Even if a notice fails to be delivered and you miss an important deadline or time period for appeal, you will be considered properly notified. If you change your address, you must notify SAR to update your registration card.
SAR may reject your application if it finds that you have committed serious, non-political crimes, or acts of extreme cruelty. An application may also be rejected if there are reasons to believe that you present a threat to national security or pose another threat to society.
If your application is rejected, you can appeal within 14 days from the date of the decision. You should find a lawyer to help with your appeal. Learn more:
The judgment of the lower court may be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court.
Support for vulnerable groups
You might have more chances to get asylum in Bulgaria if you belong to a vulnerable group. Learn more: