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Spike in Popularity for Immigrant Investor Programme After COVID-19?

01 May 2020

The Irish Government created the Immigrant Investor Programme to support investment and to enhance Ireland’s position as one of the world’s most globalised economies. Interest in the IIP is increasing as dynamic business professionals recognise the advantages both personally and professionally of maintaining a foothold in Europe. Following high praise received from the head of the World Health Organisation’s Emergencies Program regarding Ireland’s preparedness in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonable to predict that the IIP could experience a further spike in popularity during and / or after the pandemic.

IIP explained

Ireland’s IIP, as a route to residency, offers four investment options to investors of good character with a minimum net worth of €2 million. The applicant investor may apply for residency for themselves and their spouse/civil partner and dependent children. As designed, the programme is very attractive for non-EEA international investors. When compared with similar programmes in other English-speaking countries, the scheme has a very low residency requirement and is relatively quick.

Of significant benefit to investors is the fact that the period of investment does not determine the length of time the investor can maintain residency in Ireland. This is unlike the UK where the investment must be maintained and in fact the UK government reserves the right to demand that it be increased. In the Irish scheme, once an investor complies with the terms of the programme and their permission, they can maintain Irish residency indefinitely.

We look at the stipulations for applying and maintaining residency status in Ireland on the basis of permission granted under the terms of the IIP.

Who can apply?

Individuals with net worldwide assets of €2m qualify. Spouse’s assets can be taken into account. The applicant must have the investment amount, be it €400,000 or €1m (depending on the type of investment and number of other investors) available for investment.

There is a good character requirement which can be satisfied by proof of no criminal convictions.

What are the investment options?

There are four investment options for non-EEA nationals who wish to acquire residence in Ireland through the IIP which can be summarised as follows:

  1. Enterprise Investment - a minimum investment of €1m in either a single Irish enterprise or spread over a number of enterprises for a minimum of 3 years

  2. Investment Fund - a minimum investment of €1m in an approved investment fund

  3. Real Estate Investment Trusts - a minimum investment of €2m in an Irish REIT that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange

  4. Endowment - the sum of €500,000, or €400,000 where a group of five or more investors combine their philanthropic endowments, is invested in a project of public benefit in the arts, sports, health, cultural or educational field

What is the process?

The investor chooses from four investment options. An application is then made to the INIS by completing an application form which must normally be submitted within an investment window. As a measure to help lessen the risk attaching to the processing of applications during the outbreak of COViD-19, starting 1 April 2020 and finishing 30 June 2020, the requirement to submit applications during a predefined application window has been set aside. Accordingly, applicants can submit applications at any time during this period.  

There is no requirement for the funds to be invested or committed before approval is granted. The process is relatively quick and the Evaluation Committee who assess applications convene four times a year.

What permission will you get?

All successful applications and their nominated family members will be granted continuous residence in Ireland under ‘Stamp 4’ conditions. Stamp 4 conditions permit foreign nationals to work, to study or to start their own business in Ireland.

The IIP does not provide for preferential access to citizenship. Applicants are free to apply for citizenship by naturalisation in the normal manner under the provisions of the relevant legislation which requires applicants to be physically resident in Ireland for the 12 months prior to application and four out of the preceding eight years, ie 5 years in total. The IIP provides successful applicants with the opportunity to meet these requirements for Irish citizenship. This Stamp 4 can be maintained by the investor coming to Ireland only one day per year.

Conclusion

There are a number of advantages to applying to the Irish IIP by comparison with other English-speaking countries.

It investment amount is competitive at €1m in an enterprise as opposed to STG£2m for the UK scheme and the good character requirement is more easily met in the IIP than equivalent programmes in other jurisdictions where tax clearance may be sought.

The residency requirement is low. You are not required to reside in Ireland in order to maintain your immigration permission. The only requirement is that you visit Ireland at least once per calendar year.

Provided an investor complies with the terms of the chosen fund and meets the appropriate conditions, their Irish residency permission can continue indefinitely, even where the investment has been continued or sold.

We can help you identify the best option for your circumstances and guide you through the process, ensuring that your application has the greatest chance of success. At MHC, we have the added benefit of our own Charity Law and Not-for-Profit department with whom our Business Immigration teams collaborates for investors choosing the endowment option.

For more information on how you and your family can obtain Irish residency through the Immigrant Investment Programme, contact a member of our Business Immigration team.


The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

Discuss your related queries now with Katie McDermott.


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