The Ireland Investor visa is offered through the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). It is available to citizens of non-EEA countries who have a personal net worth of more than €2 million and who make investment in an approved activity.
Designed to offer residency in exchange for investment, Ireland’s investor visa allows the visa holder and their family to live and work in the country for an initial period of 5 years. After this period, provided the naturalisation requirements are met, they may become eligible to apply for Irish citizenship and an Irish passport.
Applying to take part in the scheme isn’t however straightforward. The investment options should be carefully considered and, in addition to the initial eligibility and investment requirements, you will also need to maintain your status, as it can be withdrawn.
What is attractive about the Ireland Investor Visa?
The Irish investor visa is becoming increasingly attractive as a route into Europe for non-EEA nationals as the UK prepares its exit from the union.
Ireland offers investors a close and stable relationship with Europe, with competitive business tax rates and the benefit of a native English-speaking workforce.
Brexit aside, the future of the UK’s equivalent investment visa is currently uncertain. While still open to new applications and to extensions, the government has confirmed it is reviewing the eligibility requirements with a view to tightening rules in areas such as source of funds. This compounds other changes in recent years such as increasing the required investment amount and extending the requirement to be present in the United Kingdom for at least 180 days per annum – applying to both the investor and dependants.
Agains this backdrop, Ireland’s investor visa is positioned to offer investors much-sought-after access to Europe with the potential to gain an Irish passport and all rights conferred on citizens of EU countries.
How do I qualify for the investor visa?
To qualify, you will need to met the requirements for personal net worth, investment activity and be of good character.
- Personal net worth – you are worth more that €2 million (or equivalent). This can include assets such as commercial activity, inheritance, endowment, divorce. It must be accessible to the applicant for investment under the scheme and the source must be evidenced as legitimate.
- Investment activity – applicants select one of four different types of investment option:
- Enterprise Investment
- Investment Fund
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
- Good character – you do not have criminal convictions from anywhere in the world.
How do I apply for the Irish Investor Visa?
In 2019, the scheme is open to applications as follows:
- 4th March 2019 –8th March 2019
- 20th May 2019 – 24th May 2019
- 19th August 2019 – 23rd August 2019
- 21st October 2019 – 25th October 2019
You apply using the application form, which you must complete fully and accurately.
Along with the form you also supply supporting documents that evidence your eligibility, including legitimate source of funds.
Issues with your form or supporting documentation can result in delays if further information is requested by the Evaluation committee, or worse, a refused application. Note also that there is no right to appeal a denial and you will lose your application fee.
How much does the investor visa application cost?
Currently, the application fee is €1,500. This is non-refundable.
Who are classed as ‘dependants’?
The investor visa also offers residency status, on similar terms to you, to your dependants, being your spouse, partner and children under 18. Exemptions are available for children between 18 and 24 where they are unmarried and in full time education and financial dependant on you.
You will need to evidence your legal relationship to each dependant such as birth certificate and marriage certificate.
Will I need a visa to re-enter Ireland?
The scheme acts as a multi-entry visa, so you can leave and enter as many times as you like, provided your status under the scheme remains valid.
Do we have to live in Ireland to maintain status?
It is not a mandatory condition of the investor visa to have to live in Ireland to maintain your residency status. This allows participants in the scheme the freedom and ability to continue to direct and conduct business interests overseas. However, if you choose not to make Ireland your home, you will not be eligible to apply to naturalise at the end of the 5 year scheme.
Can I get Irish citizenship by investing?
The investor visa can open up the path to citizenship after 5 years of residency, where the eligibility criteria have been met.
You have to have been physically resident 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.
A court ruling in July 2019 tightened the residency rules significantly. Applicants must now show they have been ‘continuously resident’ in Ireland the year before applying for citizenship. ‘Continuous’ has been interpreted as meaning no absences at all from the Republic during the 12 month period prior to making the application, including trips to Northern Ireland. Individuals looking to apply for Irish citizenship should take advice well in advance of their eligibility date to ensure they meet the residence requirements under the prevailing interpretation of the rules.
Do I have to prove the investment has performed to maintain my status?
No, there is no evaluation of the return of performance of your investment. The sole requirement is that the full, stipulated investment amount has been committed for the required period into the approved investment option.
Does Ireland accept dual nationality?
Ireland does recognise dual nationality. Applicants would however need to check with the laws of their current country of nationality if dual nationality is accepted. If not, by naturalising as an Irish citizen, you may be relinquishing your previous nationality, which would have implications for your immigration status in your previous country of residence and as such you would be travelling to and attempting to enter the country as an Irish national.
Do you have a question about the Ireland Investor Visa?
If you are interested in attaining residency in Ireland by investment, the immigrant investor programme could be for you.
We can support you throughout the entire process, from initial guidance on the investment options through to compiling the application and – if applicable – advice during the five year residence period in preparation for naturalisation.
If you have any questions about the Ireland investor visa or for help with your application, contact us.