Illegal (irregular) immigrants are not allowed to stay in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian authorities have the right to forcefully remove them from the national territory without their consent – this procedure is called “deportation”. If the authorities assess an illegal immigrant as posing a threat to the national security or public order, a removal procedure, called “expulsion”, is applied.

In the event of both procedures with respect to illegal immigrants, an entry ban is imposed, the so-called “black stamp”. The entry ban may cover a period of up to 5 years in cases of deportation or up to 10 years in cases of expulsion.

In addition, the authorities have the right to detain an illegal immigrant from 6 up to maximum 18 months, if time is needed to ensure the arrangements for the removal from the country – for example, due to the need for a laissez-passer to be issued in case the passport is missing.

The deportation, expulsion and detention orders can be appealed before a court; however, the court can overturn them only if such orders were issued by mistake or in violation of the law.

The deportation and entry ban orders issued in respect of an illegal immigrant are valid across all the states of the European Union. This is why the authorities always take fingerprints from illegal immigrants, which are recorded in a special internet database called EURODAC. All the EU states have access to this database. Even if an illegal immigrant flees into another European state and identifies himself/herself with an assumed identity or uses forged documents, the authorities of that state will be able to immediately establish that a deportation order has been issued with respect to him/her. The entry ban imposed excludes the possibility to receive a visa for any EU state over the whole period of the ban. The only way for the illegal immigrant to avoid the entry ban is the consent to voluntary return to his/her country of origin. For more information on this issue, see “Voluntary return“.