Every year, millions of tourists visit Ireland to experience the country’s rich heritage, to explore its beautiful mores and mountains, to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, and to participate in festivals and fairs that showcase the nation’s unique culture. As recently as 2011, Ireland was voted the favorite vacation destination in the world by multiple international travel agencies.
Ireland has become even more interesting to foreign investors as the country has developed a reputation for being one of the most open economies in the world. Ireland greatly benefits from world trade as a whole and is very adept at adapting to quickly changing market conditions. Other nations have already recognized the vast potential that lies in Ireland, as evidenced by the fact that many international businesses have established offices in Ireland.
Along with the financial benefits of investing in Ireland, the country also recently amended its immigration laws to create a very attractive immigration-based visa program.
The Irish investment-based immigration program is one of the newest programs in the world, as it was only just approved by the Irish government in January 2012. Similar to other European programs, Ireland divides its program into two broad categories:
A.The Immigrant Investor Programme
Under the Investor Programme, approved investors and their immediate family members (spouse and unmarried minor children) will be granted Irish residency for a period of five years. This residency is renewable after two years. The types of investments that Ireland hopes to encourage under this program include a specially created low interest Government Bond. Investors who select this option must invest a minimum of 1,000,000 Euros into the bonds.
Alternatively, foreign nationals may invest a minimum amount of 500,000 Euros into one Irish enterprise or spread out over multiple enterprises. If the investor chooses this option, the investment must be sustained for at least three years. The enterprises can be brand new businesses that are created by the investor or they can be existing companies. The only other requirement is that the business be registered and headquartered in Ireland.
Another option for the foreign national is to invest in property. The investor can choose to invest a minimum of 450,000 Euros into a residential property combined with a 500,000 Euro investment into the immigrant investor bonds. Notably, investments in the cultural, sporting, educational or health areas will also be considered for the purpose of immigration benefits, which is a feature unique to this Irish program. Importantly, there is not a fixed amount required for the investment. Rather the amount deemed required will depend on the nature of the investment and to which industry it will be committed. However, the Irish government has stated that the required amount generally ranges from 500,000 Euros to 2,000,000 Euros.
B. The Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme.
Under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, foreign investors who have a “good business idea” for an innovation to the economy, as well as funding of 70,000 Euros, may be granted residency in Ireland for the purposes of developing their business. The investor is not required to create a minimum amount of new job positions for Irish workers, making this option particularly easy to achieve.
Once the investment has been made and documented, the foreign national and family can apply for the permanent resident permits. These permits will typically be valid for a total of five years, with approval occurring at two different increments. After the investor has been a resident for two years, the Irish immigration authorities will review the investment to ensure that it still meets the conditions of the visa program. If the investment continues to meet the conditions, the residence will be extended for an additional three years. Afterward, the investor can extend the permanent residence in five year increments.
To qualify for Irish citizenship, the foreign investor must have demonstrable good moral character (i.e., no criminal convictions), at least one year of continuous residence in Ireland before submitting the citizenship application, and the intent to continue to reside indefinitely in Ireland for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the investor must make a declaration of allegiance to Ireland and avow to observe the nation’s laws and values.
Interested investors are encouraged to contact immigration attorneys for further information on the Ireland investment-based immigration program.