Two new immigration programmes aimed at assisting the Irish economy were formally launched on 13 March 2012 and will be open for applications from 15 April 2012. These programmes are aimed at non-EEA migrant investors and entrepreneurs who are prepared to invest or create jobs in the State in return for obtaining permission to reside here.
Immigrant Investor Programme
The Immigrant Investor Programme requires applicants to make considerable investments in the Irish economy. Specifically, the following types of investments are eligible for consideration:
- A minimum €2,000,000 investment in a special low interest immigrant investor bond to be issued on behalf of Ireland by the National Treasury Management Agency. The bond will not be transferable and must be held for five years
- A minimum €1,000,000 investment into new or existing Irish businesses for a minimum of three years. The investment must contribute to creating or saving jobs
- An endowment of a minimum of €500,000 to a public project benefiting the arts, culture, sports, education or health
- A minimum €1,000,000 mixed investment consisting of a €500,000 investment in property and €500,000 investment in immigrant investor bonds. Where an overall investment in property is over €1,000,000 and is considered to be of particular benefit to the State, a bond investment may not be required.
Various other conditions in relation to financial self-sufficiency of the applicant (and, where relevant, the financial support of his/her family), proof of character and proof of the source of the funds must also be satisfied.
The Immigrant Investor Programme will give approved participants and their immediate family members permission to reside in the State for an initial period of five years, subject to a review after the first two years to ensure that the conditions of the Programme are still satisfied. After five years, the investor can then apply for renewals of the five year period.
The applicant is not required to establish actual residence in Ireland - the Programme results in a right to residence that can be exercised as business and family needs require. The persons concerned must nonetheless visit Ireland at least once in every 12 month period. Applicants and family members will be given multi-entry visas to this end.
Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme is intended to encourage high-potential start-ups in the innovation economy. Migrants with a relevant business idea and funding of €75,000 can obtain residency in the State in order to develop the business. They can also be joined by immediate family. No initial job creation targets are involved in order to give the business time to become established.
Various other conditions in relation to financial self-sufficiency of the applicant (and, where relevant, the financial support of his/her family), and proof of good character must also be satisfied.
The conditions for the Programme are less onerous than the existing Business Permission Scheme, which involves a minimum investment of €300,000 in a business in order to obtain residence. However, the Business Permission Scheme will still be relevant in relation to businesses that do not relate to the innovation economy (e.g., retail, personal services and catering businesses).
Chosen applicants for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme will obtain an initial residence permission of two years. At that stage, a review of the development of the business will take place and, subject to a favourable outcome, the permission may be renewed.
Neither programme offers any special eligibility or advantage in relation to obtaining Irish citizenship. Beneficiaries will thus generally have to be resident in the State for at least five years before applying for citizenship in the same way as other applicants.
To apply for either Programme, an application form, together with an application fee, must be submitted to the Department of Justice and Equality. Further details will emerge when these forms become available on-line at the end of March. An evaluation committee consisting of representatives of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and various Government Departments will assess applications under both Programmes.
If you require any further information on the new Programmes, or on any related matter, please contact John Handoll or Claire Waterson.