By Uglobal Staff
Ireland’s immigrant investor scheme witnessed a large increase in applications in 2016, with 329 applicants from 16 countries applying for residency by investment in the country. Approximately 313 were from China, according to figures from the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service.
Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Program is open to non-European Economic Area nationals who invest in Ireland at a minimum investment of 1 million euros with a commitment of three years. The investment must be from the applicants’ own resources rather than financed through a loan or other means. Applicants must demonstrate a 2 million euro net worth.
“The largest investors, comprising 90 percent of applicants for IIP, are Chinese nationals. We have also seen a surge of interest in the program among Turkish investors and business persons,” said Aoife Gillespie, senior associate for Dublin-based Philip Lee law firm.
Gillespie said the approval rate for the IIP is approximately 80 percent. Applicants for the IIP must be high net worth individuals, she said, who make an investment that falls into any of four investment options: enterprise investment, investment fund, real estate investment trusts, or endowment. Gillespie said one of the most straightforward ways to obtain IIP permission is through the endowment option.
“Investors can also get involved in a project of public benefit in the arts, sports, health, cultural, or educational fields,” said Cathal X. Redmond, press and communications office, Department of Justice and Equality in Ireland.
Endowment requires a minimum of 500,000 euros invested in a project with a clear public benefit that is a philanthropic contribution where investors will receive no financial return or recoupment of the principal.
“Being in the nature of a nonrefundable gift, on which no return will arise, this can be the most expensive option but one which is of particular public benefit,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie said the process from application to residency typically takes about four months. Approved applicants are secured residence in Ireland for two years, which can be renewed for three years and includes spouse and children under 18. Applicants are not required to reside in Ireland in order to maintain their immigration permission but must visit Ireland at least once per calendar year. After five years, they can apply for long-term residence in Ireland.
“Investors who do take up residency in Ireland may apply for naturalization after they have accumulated five years residence in the previous nine years,” said Gillespie.
Noel Shannon, CEO of Dublin-based Covali Finance, said his company has witnessed a steady increase in participation in the IIP scheme since its inception.
“The process is relatively short and can be accomplished in under six months depending on the timing of the application, as there are set times where applications are accepted,” said Shannon.
Ireland’s benefit, said M. Awan of Dublin-based Abbott Immigration Services, is the creation of employment and increase in the foreign exchange. Apart from ease of travel, Irish residency for non-EEA investors can be beneficial for tax avoidance and asset security.
“Investor has good returns for their investment, the demand is on the rise, the corporate tax is 12 percent which is mainly attracting investors. English speaking country with good educational institutions,” said Awan.
Shannon said all the projects are approved on the basis that they are good for Ireland.
“The benefits for investors are that they allow non-European nationals and their families to come live and work in Ireland and avail of all the benefits of having a residence visa. They can also apply for full naturalization while residing in Ireland with a visa,” said Shannon.
Officials at the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service announced new requirements for qualifying investments in January 2017, raising them from 500,000 euros to 1 million euros, due to an increase in IIP applications in 2016.
Shannon said there have been numerous investments in the hotel sector but “we are encouraged to seek other projects which will be good for the country in terms of employment, education, health, research, etc.”
Gillespie said there are a number of reasons why investors should consider investing in Ireland. She said it is a stable, competitive, secure, and pro-business country. And, she said the Irish economy is the fastest growing in the eurozone and the sixth most competitive in the world.
“The current corporate tax rate in Ireland has been one of the principal elements of the favorable enterprise environment in recent times,” said Gillespie.