Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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It Begins Again

I started my Bulgarian type-D long stay visa process {again} today.

As many of you may already know, I gathered most of the paperwork and went through many of the steps in the fall, but was not able to get my visa in time for my flight to Bulgaria. As such, I gave up on it and went over to Bulgaria for the 90 days that I am allowed as a tourist.

Well, this time around I plan on being well prepared far in advance. I can’t be as nonchalant about it as I was before. I need that visa!

Last time around I even booked a flight to Chicago to visit the Bulgarian Consulate  to apply for my visa–all before even getting all the necessary paperwork. November rolled around and I didn’t have most of what I needed, so Chicago turned into a birthday trip with my friend. We did stop at the consulate briefly to ask some questions, but it was pretty useless. All the woman did was hand me the visa application form, which is easily found online. So much for good customer service!

I am still unsure as to where I will apply for the visa this time. I am leaning towards L.A. as it is the closest to my home in Utah, but I have heard that the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C. approves the visas same day. I need to verify this but I hope it is true. It would be such a huge relief to fly home with my visa in hand and not have to wait for a month or so to get it. I suppose I will make my choice of where to apply sometime over the summer. If I went to D.C. I could turn it into a mini-vacation as well. That’s very enticing!

Today, I went and had my fingerprints taken again so that I can submit them to the FBI for a criminal background check. The technician told me that they turned out “a bit dark” and that if the FBI rejected them that I would need to send in another card. The thing is, it takes upwards of 12 weeks to hear back from the FBI on the status, so waiting for up to three months only to find out that I need to do it all again would really stink. I told the technician this, and he simply shrugged it off and said they would probably be fine. GRR!

The thing is, I already did all of this and got my results back from the FBI (I am a good girl–no criminal record!). However, I have heard that the Bulgarian Consulates don’t accept any background checks older than 6 months.

Thankfully, I got all of the things I needed from Vince (notarized copy of his passport and affidavit of support) while I was in Bulgaria, so I am covered there. Now I just need to wait on my background check, get it apostillated by the U.S. State Dept., get my marriage license translated into Bulgarian, get the proper health insurance, have $3,000 in the bank (although this number changes depending on which consulate you talk to), and go apply.

Yada. Yada. Yada.

SUCH a hassle for a 6 month visa!

Overall, today has turned into a life maintenance day. In addition to getting my fingerprints taken and mailing them off to the fine folks at the FBI, I also turned in my taxes to my accountant.Praying for a good refund this year!

Wish me luck!

W.


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Long-stay Bulgarian Visa

This post serves two purposes: share my visa experiences thus far as well as offer some advice and information on how to go about obtaining a type-D long-stay Bulgarian visa (based on marriage to a Bulgarian citizen), for those who may need it.

The process of applying for a Bulgarian type-D visa is a long, complicated and expensive one, to say the least.

But if I want to stay in Bulgaria for longer than 3 months (the length of a tourist visa), I have to endure it.

You’d think that after a couple of years worth of research, phone calls and emails to two Bulgarian Consulates and advice from fellow Americans (Lauren, you are a life saver!), I would have been better prepared. Alas, it’s looking more and more like I’m not.

The current policies in place require that American citizens apply for the D-visa in the United States at one of three Bulgarian Consulates–Los Angeles, Chicago or New York. You may also be able to apply at the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C or the “Honorary Consul” in Carson City, Nevada (although on that last one I’d call them first to verify if they offer visa services as I wasn’t able to find a website for them nor could I find much information about the facility online). In the past, Americans were able to apply in Europe (usually in a country neighboring Bulgaria), now, however, we are required to apply in the U.S. I have decided to make the trip to Chicago for my visa as opposed to going to Los Angeles (the consulate closest to me) for two reasons… First, after contacting both consulates, Chicago came out the clear winner as far as helpfulness. Second, I would rather spend a few days in the Windy City than I would in L.A.

Contrary to what the websites for all the locations state, it seems that quite a bit of documentation and legalization is needed to get the visa.

So far, I have learned that the following items are required:

Apostillated and translated copy of the marriage certificate – Before applying for the visa the marriage certificate must also be presented in Bulgaria to register the marriage there. Apostillation services are done by the county in the state in which you are married. Each consulate has a list of approved translators.

Affidavit of Support provided by the Bulgarian citizen – From what I understand, this just needs to be a written statement provided by the Bulgarian citizen stating that they have the means and intent to financially support the applicant. Notarized and translated, of course.

Notarized copy of Bulgarian citizen’s passport – If both parties go to the consulate together, the passport can just be presented. If not, the notarization must be done in Bulgaria as that is the issuing country.

Criminal Background Check on applicant (also called a previous convictions certificate)- This is a new requirement and a huge pain in the butt! The Chicago consulate requires a FBI background check which  includes being fingerprinted and takes at least 8 weeks to get, oh and it also has to be apostillated and translated! Some consulates may also accept a state background check.

Applicant’s passport – Finally, an easy one!

Proof of insurance coverage– The provider must be licensed to operate in the EU, the policy must last at least 6 months and have a minimum of 30,ooo EUR covering all repatriation of remains, emergency medical care and hospital treatment. Yikes. This one scares me!

Bank statements from both parties proving “sufficient funds” – This requirement is fairly ambiguous. Although, one Bulgarian government website says it has to equal the Bulgarian minimum monthly wage.  I cannot get anyone to tell me a required amount so it looks like the applicant is at the mercy of the agent helping them. However, I think that a few thousand dollars is sufficient, especially by Bulgarian standards. I guess if they want more and I don’t have it in my account I can always do a cash advance on one of my credit cards then transfer the money back after I get the visa.

2 copies of the Type-D Visa application

2 current passport size photos

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