In a move to bolster support for Ukrainian refugees, the Bulgarian government is considering a one-year extension of the residence status for individuals who have sought temporary protection in the country. This proposal, aimed at prolonging the validity of temporary protection cards, will undergo public discussion, marking another chapter in Bulgaria’s commitment to assisting those affected by the ongoing crisis.

As the expiration date for current temporary protection cards looms on March 4, this potential extension would provide continuity for individuals seeking refuge. The cards, issued by the Bulgarian Refugee Agency, play a crucial role in facilitating the lives of nearly 173,000 Ukrainian refugees who have sought temporary protection in Bulgaria. Among them, approximately 70,000 Ukrainians have chosen to stay in Bulgaria, where many are engaged in employment or educational pursuits.

Eurostat data reveals that, from the onset of the conflict until the close of 2023, Bulgaria has been among the leading European countries—alongside Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Spain—in issuing protection documents. Temporary protection not only ensures free movement for Ukrainians but also grants them the right to work, and access healthcare, education, and accommodation within the European Union.

The impending public consultation, scheduled until mid-February, offers a platform for collective input on this proposed extension, emphasizing Bulgaria’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for Ukrainian refugees in the face of ongoing challenges.