Ireland has operated a Golden Visa scheme – known as the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) – since 2012. It invites high-net-worth individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to make an approved investment in Ireland. In return, the applicant and their immediate family are granted residency in Ireland. This can be renewed indefinitely, subject to certain conditions.
After five years of living in Ireland, the applicant and their family members can apply for Irish citizenship.
Immigrant Investor Programme Ireland
Ireland's Immigrant Investor Programme is a residency-by-investment scheme. It is popular with non-EEA citizens across the globe – and with good reason. In 2020, Ireland was labelled as the EU's fastest-growing economy. Various investment options are available, and significant returns can be made for the business-savvy.
But that's not all. The IIP gives the applicant AND their spouse and dependent children residency status in Ireland, should they want it. This entitles them to live, work, study and start a business in Ireland. Yet, Irish residency is not a pre-requisite: those participating in the IIP only have to spend one day in Ireland each year.
Permission to reside in Ireland is granted for an initial period of two years. This can be extended for another three years, so long as the investment is maintained. Once five years have passed, immigration status can be renewed indefinitely. Those who have lived in Ireland for five years out of the previous nine years can apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation.
So, while Ireland's golden visa is not a citizenship-by-investment scheme, it can most certainly pave the way to citizenship if that is the applicant's intention. The benefits of being an Irish citizen (and by default, an EU citizen) are numerous, including the freedom to live, work, travel and study all across the European Union.
Who Is Eligible for the Ireland Investment Visa?
There is, however, a catch. To participate in Ireland's Immigrant Investor Programme, the applicant must meet the following eligibility criteria:
Be a non-EEA national
Have a personal net worth of at least €2,000,000 and be able to provide evidence of these funds
Have a clean criminal record
Make an approved investment in Ireland for at least three years
There are four investment options, ranging in value from €500,000 to €2,000,000. The applicant cannot use a loan to finance this investment. Rather, it must come from their own resources.
The four investment options are:
Real estate investment fund
This requires the applicant to make a minimum investment of €1,000,000 in an Irish enterprise for a minimum of three years. This can be a single enterprise or spread over several enterprises. Each enterprise must be registered and headquartered in Ireland and must support the maintenance or creation of employment.
This option is typically suited to those who want to establish a start-up in Ireland or invest in an existing business in Ireland.
This requires the applicant to make a minimum investment of €1,000,000 in an approved investment fund for a minimum of three years. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) publish a list of approved investment funds every year. The Central Bank of Ireland must regulate all funds and fund managers to conduct business in Ireland.
This option is typically suited to those who want to benefit from Ireland's enterprise sector via the services of an approved investment intermediary.
Real Estate Investment Fund
This requires the applicant to make a minimum investment of €2,000,000 in any Irish Real Estate Investment Fund (REIT) that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange for a minimum of three years. The money can be spread across multiple REITs, but the number of shares approved must be retained for the entire three-year period.
This option is typically suited to those who want a lower-risk property investment model or generate a regular income stream.
This requires the applicant to make a minimum contribution of €500,000 in a project of public benefit. This might be in the field of arts, sport, health, culture or education. This is the only route that does not return on investment – not in a financial sense, anyway. No further obligations are required under the IIP.
This option is typically suited for those who have less money to invest, are keen philanthropists, or want a straightforward route to residency with no ongoing commitments.
Document Checklist of Ireland Investor Visa Application
Once the best investment route has been identified, a complete application must be submitted to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The application requires a large amount of supporting documentation, including:
A completed application form
Proof that the application fee has been paid
Evidence of net worth
Evidence of funds
Evidence of source of funds
Evidence of good character
Supporting documentation specific to the type of investment being made
Information regarding accompanying family members
Incomplete applications may result in delays or rejection. That is why many IIP applicants choose to rely on the services of an Irish immigration expert.
What Family Members Can You Include in the Ireland Investor Visa?
One of the many benefits of Ireland's investor visa is that family members can be included in the application. This includes the applicant's spouse or civil partner and children under the age of 18. Children between 18 and 24 may also be accepted if they are still dependents – for example, they are in full-time education.
Should the applicant get married or have children after receiving Irish residency, these family members can be added to the permission.
How Long Does It Take To Get an Investor Visa?
Applications for the IIP are now accepted year-round. They are reviewed by an Evaluation Committee, which meets at least once a quarter. So long as the Evaluation Committee does not require more information from an applicant, the application process usually takes an average of three to four months.
Residence Permits for an Ireland Investor Visa
Once the Evaluation Committee has approved an applicant, they are invited to fulfil their investment. They will be given a letter granting them (and their nominated family members) permission to reside in Ireland when this has been done. Upon arrival, it is necessary to make an appointment at the Burgh Quay registration office in Dublin. Each person's passport will be stamped with a 'Stamp 4' permit. This permits foreign nationals to work, study or start their own business in Ireland.
The initial residence permit is for a period of two years. So long as the investment has been maintained (or the endowment used), and the applicant has not committed a criminal offence or become a burden to the Irish State. Residency can be extended for a further three years.
After five years, the investor and their family members can renew their residence permits in Ireland in five-year increments. The investment does not need to be maintained at this stage. If desired, they can apply for Irish citizenship after five years of residency in Ireland.
What if You Don’t Meet the Requirements for an Ireland Investor Visa?
If an applicant does not meet the requirements for an Ireland investor visa, their application will be rejected. This decision is final and cannot be appealed. However, the good news is that the applicant will be told why they were rejected and entitled to try again later.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
SOURCE: Gibson & Associates Solicitors
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