Refugees and humanitarian status holders have the right to work similarly as all Bulgarian citizens. They can work in Bulgaria without an explicit permission to do that.
NB: You have full employment rights even before being granted protection. Asylum seekers can sign a work contract three months after filing their asylum application. This period of time is counted as of the date of registration of the asylum claim indicated in your registration card. In order to do so, the State Agency for Refugees issues an official notice for your right to work.
Types of work contracts
There are two types of work contracts: a labour and a civil contract.
The labour contract is permanent (indefinite) or for a fixed time period and guarantees a number of social rights (such as a guaranteed amount of monthly salary and working hours, social and health insurance covered, paid annual leave, compensation in case of unemployment).
The civil contract is concluded for the implementation of a specific task. The payment is usually due after the finalization of the task. Working hours are not fixed and are subject to personal arrangement. This type of contract offers a lower level of protection, but a higher flexibility to the worker (for example, no working time, working place or paid annual leave are available).
Finding a Job
You can search for a job through different channels including with the help of the public Labour Bureaus, online platforms, private recruitment agencies, non-governmental organizations. Bulgaria experiences a serious lack of workforce and as a result, many companies are interested in hiring refugees and humanitarian status holders.
Most of the employers insist on at least basic knowledge of Bulgarian language. They show flexibility in terms of requiring educational diplomas and certificates that prove previous qualifications, and often prefer to test skills during the selection procedure. Many employers provide training in the initial weeks of employment with some even providing Bulgarian language courses.
Most of the employers’ main requirements from their employees are punctuality and motivation to learn and develop new skills.
- Labour Bureaus
Once you have your Bulgarian ID document, and you want to find a job, you can register as unemployed in the Labour Bureau in accordance with your permanent or current address. This registration is free of charge and is not obligatory, but is a mandatory precondition for the application for monthly social assistance (see section IX. Social Benefits).
The registration is done in person. Consider finding a Bulgarian speaker who could help you fill the application and discuss your educational and professional background at the Labour Bureau. Bring along all available educational and professional certificates you have, translated in Bulgarian.
Once registered, you are prepared an individual action plan for employment and you are entitled to receive job offers from companies which have registered their vacant positions with the Labour Bureau. You also have the right to be included in programmes for subsidized professional training.
During the period when you are registered with the Labour Bureau, you need to regularly visit it (on a date written in your registration card) according to your individual action plan. If you are offered a suitable job position as defined by the Labour Bureau, you should be ready to start within 14 days of the offer. If not, your registration is terminated. You can register again after 6 months.
NB: The Labour Bureaus have a special Programme for Employment and Training of Refugees. Any company willing to hire a refugee or humanitarian status holder through the Labour Bureau could have part of their salary covered by the Bureau for one year. Persons granted protection in the last two years have the right to participate in this programme. Make sure to ask about this programme once you register.
- Online Platforms
There is a specialized service to connect refugees and interested employers: www.refugeeocean.com. Register and follow the job advertisements by companies there. The website is available in various languages.
The most popular search engines for jobs that Bulgarian citizens usually use are:
You have to register, prepare a CV, select the preferred job position and apply. Depending on the position, a motivation letter may also be necessary. Employers who are interested in your application will contact you via the contact details provided in your CV.
- Private Recruitment Agencies
There are recruitment agencies that have experience in working with refugees. You can use their services when looking for a job. Those are:
Catro Bulgaria (www.catrobg.com)
Nanny (www.nanny.bg) – specialized in positions related to domestic work, babysitting and housekeeping.
Maistor Plus (www.maistorplus.com) – specialized in positions related to construction and renovation works.
The most popular private recruitment agencies that Bulgarian citizens use are:
Easy Consult (www.easyconsultbg.com)
Adecco Bulgaria (www.adeccobulgaria.com)
- Non-governmental Organizations
Caritas Sofia has a specialized Career Centre for refugees where you can receive help with preparing a CV, tips for behavior during job interviews and referral to interested employers. The Career Centre works with a network of employers who have experience in hiring refugees and humanitarian status holders. It also organizes regular job fairs where you can directly meet representatives from interested companies. (For the contacts of the Caritas Career Centre, see section XII. Non-governmental Organizations)
The Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) could also assist you with the development of a CV and referral to possible employers. (For the contacts of the Integration Centre of the BRC, see section XII. Non-governmental Organizations).
Signing a Labour Contract
You need the following documents in order to conclude a labour contract:
- ID card;
- Educational and qualification certificates, if available;
- Medical certificate issued by your General Practitioner to certify you are medically fit for the job;
- Criminal record certificate, if requested (For the issuance procedure, see section II. Civil Registration and ID Documents, point 5.3.).
The employer is obliged to inform the National Revenue Agency that you have been hired within 3 days from the signing of the contract.
You need to have a signed copy of the contract. The first employer who hires you in Bulgaria is obliged to issue you a service record book where all your employment history in Bulgaria needs to be filled in. This document is important for the purposes of certifying your overall work experience in the accrual of pension rights.
NB: Most employers have chosen to pay the salaries to their employees by monthly bank transfers. In order to get your salary, you need to open a bank account in a bank of your choice. You have the right to do that with your Bulgarian ID cards of a refugee or a humanitarian status holder (See section II. Civil Registration and ID Documents). In case of refusal, you may search for legal aid (for organizations which provide free legal aid, see section XII. Non-governmental Organizations).