Gaining Irish citizenship through investment has become attractive for many reasons. As an Irish citizen, you are conferred constitutional rights and privileges, such as the freedom to enter and leave the State without immigration restrictions and the ability to apply for an Irish passport. You also attain rights as an EU citizen to live, travel and work within the European Union.
Through the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), eligible nationals of non-EEA countries are offered residency in Ireland in return for an approved investment. After 5 years under the scheme, they can become eligible to apply to naturalise as an Irish citizen.
It is not mandatory on participants in the programme to make Ireland their home. Provided they spend at least one day in each calendar year under the scheme in Ireland, they can maintain their status. For individuals with business interests across multiple jurisdictions, this is often an attractive feature of the investor visa.
However, participants should be aware that this approach will not lead to Irish citizenship.
If your objective is to attain Irish citizenship for you and your family, you will need to ensure you take the required steps to maintain your status and satisfy the naturalisation requirements.
Most recently, a court ruling in July 2019 has dramatically tightened the residency rules for obtaining Irish citizenship. As a result, 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.
From investor to Irish citizen: what is naturalisation?
Naturalisation is the legal process for a non-Irish national to become an Irish citizen on the basis of physical residence in Ireland for the required minimum period.
Ireland investor visa holders do not automatically qualify for citizenship. A naturalisation application has to be made to the Minister for Justice and Equality, evidencing eligibility against stringent criteria.
For investors, residency under the IIP is granted for an initial period of two years. At the two-year mark, you will need to evidence that the investment has been completed and that it complies with the visa conditions. If deemed compliant, residency will be extended for a further three years.
At the end of the initial five year period, participants can apply to continue their residency status in increments of five years, or they can apply to naturalise as an Irish citizen, where they meet the physical residency requirement.
What are the eligibility requirements to naturalise as an Irish citizen?
To be eligible to apply, applicants must be over 18 years of age, or if under 18, be married. In addition, you will be assessed against the following criteria:
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 each year, after holidays and trips away for business and leisure for example, have been deducted.
Following the court decision in July 2019, applicants must 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.
You also have to declare intent to continue to reside indefinitely in Ireland for the foreseeable future.
Good moral character
All criminal convictions and proceedings from any jurisdiction should be declared in your application and you will be subject to a background check by the Irish national police. All citizenship decisions are at the discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality who will take all of this information into consideration when adjudicating.
You will also have to show that you are able to financially support yourself and your dependants, and that you have not claimed or received any State support or benefits in the three years before your application.
Declaration of Allegiance
You must declare your allegiance, loyalty and fidelity to the State. This involves pledging to observe the laws and democratic values of Ireland.
Note than Ireland does recognise dual nationality. Applicants would however need to check the laws of their current country of nationality as to whether dual nationality is permitted and whether naturalising as an Irish citizen will by default revoke your previous nationality.
Do I have to prove the investment has performed to be eligible?
No, there is no evaluation of the return or performance of your investment for naturalisation. The sole requirement is that the full, stipulated investment amount has been committed for the required period into the approved investment option.
How much does the citizenship application cost?
Each application for Irish naturalisation costs €175.
You will also have to pay a fee for the certificate of naturalisation, the level of which is determined as follows:
- Minors – €200
- Widow, widower or surviving civil partner of Irish citizen – €200
- Refugee, stateless person or programme refugee – No charge
- All others – €950
How to apply for Irish citizenship through investment
To apply, you will need to complete the relevant application form and compile and submit supporting documentation.
The rules governing the documents to provide are strict and extensive, and also vary depending on your circumstances and basis of eligibility.
Taking advice will ensure you satisfy the requirements and avoid issues or errors which can result in delays or refused applications.
Do you have a question about getting Irish citizenship through investment?
If you are interested in attaining Irish citizenship through 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 advice during the five year residence period in preparation for your naturalisation application.
If you have any questions about the Ireland investor visa or for help with your application, contact us.