Schengen Zone

Romania and Bulgaria to Join the European Union’s Schengen Zone

On March 31st 2024, Romania and Bulgaria will officially join the exclusive club of 27 European countries (now 29) in the Schengen Zone. The initiative means no more pesky border checks when entering Romania and Bulgaria for more than 400 million EU citizens and non-EU visitors. In practical terms, starting from the official date, if a visitor is flying in or arriving in both countries from a flight connection from another Schengen country, they can enter without passport checks.  

Touristic destinations like Bucharest, Sofia, or Bansko will become must-visit places for thousands of travelers. Land travelers, including those on trains and cars, will still need to show their IDs due to the Austrian veto. 

The Schengen Zone, created in 1995, has been expanding its borders steadily. The recent additions of Croatia in 2022 and now Romania and Bulgaria showcase a commitment to providing freedom and security for the ever-growing number of EU travelers. With this inclusion, both countries will now obey the Schengen golden rule of the 90-day limit within 180 days without a visa.

Schengen Zone

Bulgarian Golden Visa Program: 2024 Update

With the recent changes, Bulgaria and Romania are set to become important players in the Residency by Investment landscape, now that their passports will give their holders not only access to the Schengen Zone but also the right to move, work, and live in other Schengen countries. 

However, Bulgaria closed the door on new Golden Visa program applicants in 2022. The termination of the program signaled a shift in the country's approach, redirecting individuals towards regular residency permits as a precursor to obtaining citizenship through more conventional means. 

Before the Golden Visa’s termination, the Bulgarian journey to EU Residency commenced with an initial investment of €512,000. This investment ranged from Bulgarian stocks and exchange-traded funds to private equity, venture capital, and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Purchasing Real Estate was not an eligible option for the Bulgaria Golden Visa. 

Investors were required to hold these funds for 5 years, after which they could withdraw their investment. It is crucial to mention that for every Residency renewal, the investor had to have the equivalent of €512,000 applied, even if the fund value decreased. 

This flexibility set Bulgaria apart from the other European programs due to the inclination towards financial markets rather than real estate ventures. The Bulgaria Golden Visa typically took about 6 months to complete, marking a relatively fast process for those eager to establish Residency in the European Union.  

From March 31st 2024, older participants of the program will enjoy the freedom of travel within the Schengen Zone.

Bulgaria and European Union flags

The Bulgarian Government closed its investment immigration programs due to EU Commission and political opposition pressure, claiming the programs did not bring the country any economic profitability.  

Before terminating, the Golden Visa in Bulgaria also offered a Citizenship by Investment option, which required a total investment of €1,024,000 through financial markets.

Remarkably, this was the fastest-track option for an investor to gain EU citizenship in 18 months. The appeal of Bulgaria's Citizenship by Investment program lied not only in its expediency but also in its flexibility.  

Participants had the freedom to choose their preferred investment types, and after 5 years, the investment could be liquidated.  

In this changing landscape, from 2022 to now, the main applicant’s spouse can still apply for Bulgarian nationality 3 years after the investor is awarded citizenship, a quicker route compared to the earlier Citizenship Act.

Romania Golden Visa Program: 2024 Update

Romania steps into the spotlight alongside Bulgaria, especially as entrepreneurs and investors pay the country with more attention, due to its Residency by Investment. This residency permit reveals itself as an investment shelter with a unique level of economic growth. Beyond the landscape and history, Romania has a lot to offer and boasts a vibrant and multilingual workforce, providing a competitive edge in technology and manufacturing. Its strategic location, bridging East and West, makes it a logistical dream for businesses with broader European ambitions.


The Romania Golden Visa offers two main avenues: one for company directors and the other for shareholders. Both paths emphasize a consistent income stream, enrolment in the national health insurance system, and a health certificate as essential components for the long-stay visa application process.

The Company Directors' Residency option offers a 1-year permit with an upfront investment of €50,000. This is renewable on the condition that the initial capital stays within the business.

The Company Shareholders' Residency option, for instance, is valid for 1 year and requires investment specifics of €50,000 for a limited liability company. Alternatively, €70,000 is required for a joint-stock entity.

Renewal eligibility is contingent on the sustained investment in the Romanian business. Another option, although not very usual, requires a €1,000,000 investment, or the creation of at least 10 full-time roles, paving the way for Permanent Residency. While not providing a direct Citizenship by Investment program, the Romania Golden Visa allows application for citizenship after a total of 8 years.

Residency by Investment Visas in Europe: Better Opportunities with Greece and Portugal

While Bulgaria and Romania are on the spotlight once more with their Golden Visa programs, the best Residency by Investment options in Europe are certainly in Portugal and Greece. Either because of the country's political and economic stability or due to higher returns on investments.

In 2023, Portugal discontinued the Real Estate option for its Golden Visa. The program is still available through other forms, including subscriptions to investment funds and donations, among others, open to non-European investors.

However, the best pathway to Portuguese Residency is the D2 Visa, a profitable alternative that grants investors with the same Golden Visa Resident status.

The Investment Visa team of experts has created a unique option for the D2 Visa in Portugal, with Mátria Co-working investment opportunities. Located in Lisbon city center, just streets away from the famous Avenida da Liberdade, Mátria is a 7-floor functional co-working development, with luxurious amenities, including a private gym and coffee shop. Mátria is the best option for foreign investors seeking Portuguese Residency and Citizenship.

The Greece Golden Visa Program is also a highly sought-after option in Europe. With the Real Estate purchase option available, a foreign investor can apply for residency with a minimum investment of €250,000, in a residential, commercial, or tourist property.

Greek Residency give its holder freedom of travel within Europe and non-border control in the future 29 countries part of the Schengen Zone. The laidback Greek lifestyle is also a must for investors looking to relocate to the country. Living on a Greek Island or in Athens could be a dream coming true.

Contact one of our Investment Advisors today and see how to apply for the Greek Golden Visa today.


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