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Ireland: the new gateway to Europe for international investors

July 2019 - Immigration. Legal Developments by DavidsonMorris.

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Brexit has left non-EEA investors looking for alternatives to the UK to gain European residence and access to the European single market.

Through the Irish Investor Programme, the Irish government offers residency in Ireland in exchange for approved investment in the country’s economy with the potential to lead to Irish citizenship.

For non-EEA nationals, this is a highly attractive path to gaining access to the European single market.

The Republic of Ireland offers great appeal to foreign investors, with an English-speaking workforce, steady economy, political stability and a high standard of living.

It has developed a highly competitive corporate taxation regime, including extensive double tax treaties and financial support systems that have already attracted global corporates to set up European headquarters in the republic, such as Google, Facebook, Paypal, Microsoft, eBay and LinkedIn.

Ireland is often considered to be open in trade terms. Geographically speaking, it sits at the peripheral of Europe, but it offers the same access to and benefits of the single market while also maintaining strong trade links with the US.

What is the Irish Investment Scheme?

Under the Irish investment scheme, individuals from non-EEA countries, and their families, can be granted ‚ÄėStamp 4‚Äô residency in Ireland and a path to Irish citizenship.

After an initial 2-year period of residency, the participants wil be subject to a review confirming their continued compliance with the scheme and if sucessful, a further 3 years’ residence will be granted. Participants can then apply for residence in 5-year increments or apply for Irish citizenship.

No residence requirement

The programme acts as a multi-Entry Visa allowing the holder to travel as an Irish Resident in and out of the country as required by their business and personal lives. They are not required to establish actual residence in Ireland or to make Ireland their home.

While there is no minimum residence requirement, they will have to prove they have visited the country at least once in every 12 month period.

To be eligible for Irish citizenship however, participants will have to evidence physical residence in Ireland for four of the preceding eight years, i.e. 5 years, prior to your application. During each of these years, your home must have been in Ireland and you must have been physically present in Ireland for at least 10 months of the year, after holidays and trips away for business and leisure have been deducted.

Financial requirements

To be eligible for the IIP, investors must show they have a personal net worth of over ‚ā¨2 million.

A minimum investment of ‚ā¨1million in an approved activity has to be committed for three years at least. The investment funds relied on for the application must be accessible to the investor, and from a legitimate source and cannot be financed through a loan or similar.

Required investments

Applicants select one of four different types of investment options:

  • Enterprise Investment
  • Investment Fund
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
  • Endowment

Commitment of the full, stipulated investment amount for the relevant minimum period is the critical factor. There will be no evaluation of the return of performance of your investment.

Applications for the scheme can be made without committing investment funds. If approved, the investment can be made in the relevant option and permission to reside will then be provided.

Good character requirement

Applicants will also be assessed against the good character requirements, meaning no criminal convictions from anywhere in the world.

How to apply

An application form is required along with extensive documentation to support your eligibility, covering criteria such as source of investment funds. Currently, the application fee is ‚ā¨1,500. This is non-refundable.

The Evaluation Committee conducts an independent review of all applications received.

Applications are submitted to the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service during one of the application windows. The remaining sessions in 2019 are:

  • 19th August 2019 ‚Äď 23rd August 2019
  • 21st October 2019 ‚Äď 25th October 2019