The Council of Ministers adopted an Ordinance on terms and conditions for issuing, extending and revoking a certificate for a high-tech and/or innovative project called the “Startup Visa” (the “Ordinance”). It is a ground for foreign entrepreneurs to establish their residence in the country in order to develop a high-tech and/or innovative project for a period of one year. After the expiry of the period, entrepreneurs can renew their visa. The deadline is short because after it expires, companies must submit a report on their development to a committee, thus preventing abuse on their part.
Let’s see the difference between high-tech and/or innovative project. The difference is given in an additional provision in the Ordinance. The high-tech project produces high-tech products and/or services and requires specialised knowledge and skills. An innovative project is closely linked to scientific progress and discovery and can bring a significant change in a given sector or market.
Startup Visa applicants are given the opportunity to complete an application in English. It must be sent to the Ministry of Innovation and Growth electronically. A panel of experts from the Ministry reviews and assesses the application. The deadline is 30 days. The assessment is based on 6 criteria:
- Provision of means of support for the applicant;
- Financial projections and available capital;
- Customer network;
- Valid patent or valid utility model registration certificate;
- Business plan and presentation.
Each criteria contains a different number of points and the applicant must obtain a minimum of 8 out of 14 points. The final decision to grant or deny a certificate is made by the Minister of Innovation and Growth and is appealable. The Panel shall send a reasoned non-binding proposal.
The Ordinance also regulates the cases in which cancellation of the certificate issued for a high-tech and/or innovative project is requested, and the decision for cancellation is also subject to appeal.
The aim is to optimize the procedure for issuing a certificate of high-tech and/or innovative project and improve the conditions for obtaining the authorization of a continuous residence on this basis. This way more and more foreign entrepreneurs will develop their activities in Bulgaria.