Residency schemes for foreign investors
Residency schemes for foreign investors: The Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme
Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, unveiled in early 2012 two new initiatives designed to attract non-EEA investors and entrepreneurs to Ireland in order to stimulate job growth and development. The initiatives, the Immigrant Investor Programme and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, allow approved investors and their immediate families to receive residency in Ireland in exchange for a pre-determined investment. These programmes were designed to boost the Irish economy by providing an influx of long-term investment.
The Immigrant Investor Programme
The Immigrant Investor Programme allows investors to participate in the Irish economy in four distinct ways:
- A one-time endowment of a minimum of €500,000 to a public project benefiting the arts, sports, health, culture or education
- A minimum €1,000,000 aggregate investment into new or existing Irish businesses for a minimum of three years. Funding by the investor through the intermediary of a venture capital fund will be considered provided that it can be demonstrated that the net effect is at least equivalent to that of a direct investment.
- A minimum €2,000,000 investment in a special low interest 5 year immigrant investor bond. There will be one interest payment of 5.1% at the end of the 5 year investment period and this is equal to an annual equivalent interest rate of 1% (AER).
- A minimum €1,000,000 mixed investment consisting of €500,000 in property and €500,000 in immigrant investor bonds.
The programme is designed to attract established entrepreneurs to engage in a long-term relationship with Ireland. In return for their investment, participants will be granted residency for five years, reviewable after two years, which can subsequently be renewed in five-year tranches.
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme is designed to stimulate the growth of innovative businesses in Ireland. The programme allows non-EEA nationals with an innovative business idea and funding of €75,000 to acquire residency in Ireland to develop their business. Residency will be in line with the Immigrant Investment Programme, but with the expectation that the participant will be active in the administration of the project. The programme will create employment and new businesses will have greater flexibility and lower start-up costs. The business idea must be a High Potential Start-Up.
To qualify for the Programme, proposal must be:
- Capable of introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets
- Capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
- Led by an experienced management team
- Headquartered and controlled in Ireland
- Less than six years old
In addition to ensuring the minimum requirements listed by each programme are met, an Evaluation Committee will be established to determine that applicants are of good character, meet the financial requirements, and are capable of supporting themselves while in Ireland. The Committee will have discretionary authority in deciding whether a proposal will be beneficial for Ireland and job creation. The Committee consist of representatives from the IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Finance, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Department of Health.
Residency and Citizenship
The two programmes, while intending to stimulate long-term relationships between Ireland and foreign investors, do not provide any preferential access to Irish citizenship. The current requirement of five years of “reckonable residency” remains in effect, even for accepted applicants. However, once accepted into a Programme, participants may apply for citizenship once they have met the necessary residential requirements. The two programmes, therefore, may ease the burden of acquiring Irish citizenship.
If you would like legal advice in relation to these matters, please call us on 01-6445777 or contact us here.