Amid raised concerns over its use as an open door to money laundering, corruption and other unlawful affairs, Bulgaria has finally abolished its much-criticized Golden Visa Program.

Last month, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, announced that the country’s controversial Citizenship by Investment scheme would soon be terminated,.

The Golden Visa Program, often known as the Citizenship by Investment scheme, allowed internationals to acquire residency in Bulgaria if they made an investment of a minimum of 500,000 euros ($550,000), and citizenship,if they invested a total of one million euros ($1.1m) in this Balkan country.

In addition, holders of Golden Visa, together with their family members, were also eligible to travel to all Schengen Zone countries visa-free.

Last month, authorities in Bulgaria announced that the program would be terminated after the government announced that it would submit the bill to the parliament.

However, back then, it was reported that the bill that was supported by a large number of Bulgarian politicians would need the government’s approval first.

In this regard, the Prime Minister said that the program would be removed due to “the absence of real investments in the economy, likely to lead to job creation.”

“This is one of the major obstacles to (joining) the Schengen, in my opinion, and to visa-free travel with the US. Golden passports are a vice, and getting rid of it is our priority,” Prime Minister previously emphasized, as reported by the Bulgarian National Television.

In addition, the Justice Ministry previously said that the scheme did not lead to real investment in Bulgaria, as reported by Euractiv.

Besides, the same Ministry emphasized that the end of the Golden Visa scheme would come shortly.

The decision to abolish the Golden Visa Program by Bulgarian Members of Parliament on Thursday came after the scheme was condemned by the European Parliament, taking into account Western sanctions targeting oligarchs of Russia over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The top beneficiaries from the Golden Visa Program were citizens from Russia, China as well as those from Middle East countries.

Due to the war in Ukraine, several European countries, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal and Spain, have suspended the Golden Visa Program for citizens of Russia.

Earlier this month, Members of the European Parliament called on European countries that run such schemes to put them to an end. MEPs also urged to terminate the issuance of golden passports.

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