Demand for Irish residency rises among wealthy foreign investors

Two programmes offering residency in return for investment see sharp rise in applications

 Sinn Féin TD  Peadar Tóibín: asked Dáil  question about investor schemes last year . Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín: asked Dáil question about investor schemes last year . Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Over the past year, wealthy foreign investors are being granted Irish residency at the fastest rate since the Immigrant Investor Programme began in 2012, new figures show.

As part of the scheme established by the previous government, non-EU nationals who have a net worth of at least €2 million can apply for residency in Ireland once they provide a €500,000 endowment towards a “project of public benefit in the arts, sports, health, cultural or educational field”.

Those who invest €2 million in Irish real estate are also eligible, as are those who buy €1 million of State-issued bonds.

The programme is run through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, a subsidiary of the Department of Justice. A spokesman for the department said that 136 successful applications to the Immigrant Investor Programme have now been processed, compared to 49 in April last year. He told The Irish Times that although initial uptake of the scheme was expected to be slow, it has “continued to perform well” recently.

Latest figures show that four applications have been refused, and a further 100 remain under consideration.

The State also runs a Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme, which offers a two-year residency, renewable for a further three years, for foreign individuals who pitch a business idea for the innovation sector that is capable of creating 10 jobs and returning €1 million to the economy in four years.

They must also prove that they can secure €75,000 in capital to back the idea up. So far, there have been 63 successful applications for this scheme, with 44 refusals and 60 applications under consideration.

The number of applicants granted residency has more than doubled since April last year, when a response to a Dáil question by Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín revealed that 30 had been successful since 2012.

In response to Mr Tóibín’s question last year, the department said it expected the Immigrant Investor Programme alone will be worth more than €40 million to the Irish economy, and 400 jobs had been created under the two schemes as of April 2015.

Some politicians have described both investor schemes as a means for affluent migrants to effectively buy Irish passports.

An individual must have lived in Ireland for five years consecutively, or at least five out of the last nine years, to be considered eligible for citizenship, after which they will be able to claim a passport. This requirement would be satisfied for those who choose to renew their residency under the Start-Up Investor Programme, and there is no residency limit set as part of the more expensive Immigrant Investor Programme.