The Irish Government has recently announced the introduction of two major new immigration initiatives aimed at facilitating (non-EEA) migrant entrepreneurs and investors who in return for permission to reside in the State are prepared to invest in Ireland for the purposes of saving or creating jobs.
These initiatives are known as
• The Immigrant Investor Programme
• The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
The Immigrant Investor Programme
Approved participants in the Investor Programme and their immediate family members will be granted rights of residence in Ireland. This will allow them to enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and to remain for a defined period but with the possibility of ongoing renewal. Successful applicants would get initial residence permission for 5 years. This is covered in two tranches. The first permission will cover two years and there is then review at that point to make sure that the investor is continuing to meet the conditions of the scheme (i.e. the investment has not been withdrawn, they continuer to be law abiding and self sufficient). Assuming all is in order a further period of 3 years will be granted. After 5 years have elapsed, the investor is free to apply for ongoing residence in 5 year tranches. Investors can then qualify for naturalisation on the same basis as other foreign nationals living in Ireland.
The level and duration of financial commitment required from the Investor will depend on the nature of the investment but will generally range from minimum €500,000 for endowment-related investments to minimum €2,000,000 in the new Immigrant Investor low-interest bearing Government Bond. The level of investment in business entities where jobs are being created or saved will generally be minimum €1,000,000 and the Department of Justice and Equality will be guided by and be reliant upon the advice of the IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in assessing individual proposals.
The Investor scheme is designed to attract individuals with a successful background in business to invest in and relocate to the State. A range of investment options are provided for with different thresholds applied depending on the nature of the investment.
1) Immigrant Investor Bonds
A minimum investment of €2,000,000 in a special low interest 5 year immigrant investor bond issued by Ireland acting through the National Treasury Management Agency. There will be one interest payment of 5% at the end of the 5 year investment period and this is equal to an annual equivalent interest of 1% (AER). The bond will be issued on behalf of Ireland by the National Treasury Management agency (NTMA). It will be offered exclusively to participants in the scheme that have been approved by the Department of Justice and Equality. The bond will not be tradable on any market and will not be transferable and must be held by the participant for the full 5 years until it matures.
2) Enterprise Investment
• A minimum €1,000,000 in a single Irish enterprise or spread over a number of enterprises for a minimum of 3 years. The enterprise may be a start-up established by the investor or an existing business registered in Ireland. The enterprises must be registered and headquartered in Ireland. The investment must support the creation or maintenance of employment. The investment must be in the name of the individual seeking residence under the Programme.
• In certain circumstances an investment through a venture capital fund may be considered.
• A substantial investment in a company listed on the Irish Stock Exchange may be considered in exceptional circumstances where that investment represents a significant contribution to Ireland’s national economic interests. The investment must be held for a minimum of 3 years.
3) Mixed Investments
In certain cases an investment in property will be considered eligible for the programme. In order for the property investment to be the basis for qualification for residence the property in question must either;
(a) Be a residential property in which the applicant and their family intend to reside in Ireland (residential properties purchased for rental income will not be eligible). In such cases, a minimum of €1,000,000 will apply and this investment must be diversified between residential property and immigrant investor. The investment must be diversified between each eligible investment category but not more than 50% can in property.
(b) In certain cases, a property investment of a minimum value of €1,000,000 in which the investor can show a clear economic or social value for Ireland or where the property investment is a critical part of an overall business development or enterprise plan.
A minimum endowment of €500,000 in a project of public benefit in the arts, sports, health, cultural, or educational field is required. The endowment should be regarded as a philanthropic contribution with a clear public benefit. Investors will receive no financial return or recoupment of the principal.
The applicant is not required to establish actual residence in Ireland. The programme is about the rights of residence that the applicant may exercise as their business and family needs dictate. No minimum residence requirement is set other than the stipulation that the persons concerned should visit Ireland at least once in every 12 month period.
Applicants will be required to be self sufficient and to support their families without recourse to State funds.
Applicants must be of good character and will be required to attest to their bonafides. This will be done via an affidavit sworn in this Ireland. False misleading or incomplete information submitted can lead to the removal from the State as well as revocation of the immigrant permissions.
Provenance of the Funds
The applicant must be able to show the source of the funds proposed for the investment, i.e. that the funds were legally acquired, are fully owned by them and are theirs to dispose of as they wish. All funds must be fully compliant with Anti Money Laundering Legislation. .
Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
It is aimed at people of good character with entrepreneurial ability and some financial backing who wish to start a business in the innovation area.
To qualify and applicant must:
• Have access to €75,000 funding to be given residency in the State for the purposes of developing their business. No initial job creation targets will be set as it is recognised that such businesses can take some time to get off the ground.
What Type of Business?
The intention of the programmes is to support high potential start –ups. The scheme is not intended for retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of this nature. The existing Business Permission Scheme remains available to this sort of enterprise. While each scheme will be considered on its own merits the sort of business intended for this programme are those that are part of the innovation economy in the areas of high potential growth in the future. The State Agencies will play a key role in evaluating the suitability of proposed business proposals for the programme.
• The business proposal must have a strong innovation component.
Definition of a High Potential Start-Up (HPSU): It is defined as a start-up venture that is:
• Introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets.
• Capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1,000,000 in sales within three to four years of starting up.
• Led by an experience management team.
• Headquartered and controlled in Ireland.
• Less than six years old
Applicants are required to have secured funding of €75,000 for the business proposal
An application fee of €350 is payable which is not refundable.
Duration and Nature of Immigration Permission:
Successful applicants and their nominated family members would get initial residence permission for 2 years to develop the business which will then be renewable for a further three years. After five years residence applicant will be eligible for long term residence in the State. Where required the applicant will be granted a multiple entry visa.
Participants can be joined by immediate family provided that they can show that their family can be fully maintained without recourse to the State funds.
Residency Permission available under the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme
a) Applicants for the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme who have their investment
proposals approved by the Evaluation Committee shall be invited to apply for
residency permission under the Programme
b) Once the applicant has provided verifiable evidence that they have transferred the funds identified in their application for approval to a business bank account in Ireland, they will be granted the following residency permission in Ireland.
• Permission to reside and work in Ireland for two years. Where a person is a visa required national they will be given a multiple entry visa for the period of two years. This is to facilitate business related travel.
• During this period beneficiaries must have private medical insurance and must not have recourse to public funds.
• Spouses and minor children shall be allowed to accompany successful applicants.
Renewal of Residency Permission
Permission will be renewed thereafter subject to;
• The Start-up remaining in place thereafter for the designated period
• An assessment by the Evaluation Committee of the success or viability of the investment.
• The Candidates maintaining their good character
• The candidates maintaining their private medical insurance and not having recourse to publicly funded welfare programmes.
On renewal, residency permission will be granted for 3 further years.
Thereafter permission may be renewed in 5 year instalments.
Eligible Family Members
Residency status, on similar terms, to the principal applicant is also available for spouses/partners and minor children (i.e. children under 18 years of age) for whom the principal applicant and/or their spouse or partner has legal guardianship.
a) Consideration of family relationships: Where the person applying for residence status under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme for themselves and their families the validity of the family relationship will be considered.
Spouses: Applicants should provide evidence that their marriage or civil partnership is legal.
Partners: Applicants should provide evidence that they have been cohabitating with their partner in a common law / de facto relationship for the previous two years.
Children: The minor children of the applicant shall qualify for residency status provided that the applicant qualifies for residency status and provided that; they are legally in the custody / guardianship of the applicant they are unmarried and are not in a de facto / common law relationship
In respect of each child, the applicant must supply birth certificates detailing parentage or legal documentation verifying the applicant’s custody/guardianship.
Applicants will be required to be self sufficient and to support their families without recourse to State funds.
All applications for both programmes will be considered by an Evaluation Committee comprised of representatives of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland as well as other Government Agencies. Applicants must be of good character and be able to support themselves while in Ireland. Applicants will have to attest to their bona fides on affidavit sworn here in Ireland. False, misleading or incomplete information submitted can lead to removal from the State as well as revocation of the immigration permissions. The evaluation committee will operate to a strict code and will only deal with the applicant him/herself or with applicant’s duly authorized legal or financial representative.
Application fee for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme will be €350 which is non refundable. This may be waived if the State agency is a stakeholder in the project.
Successful applicants will be granted residence permission for two years which will be renewable thereafter provided the business is still operational and the applicant is earning a living without being a burden on the State.
No employment requirement will exist for the first two years and neither will the business be required to be profitable at renewal stage.
Family reunification for the spouse/partner and children provided that the family needs are met from the resources of the investor/entrepreneur or other private means. No access to State funds will be permitted during this period.
The two schemes offer interested parties the potential for residence in the State and not Irish citizenship. Successful applicants will however be able to apply for naturalisation under the terms of the Irish Nationality and Citizenships Act 1956 -2004 in the same way as all other non-Irish nationals.
There are five reasons (1) The Shannon Development Zone, (11) Ireland’s unique position in Europe, (111) the forthcoming Irish Presidency of the European Union in 2013, (1v) the strength of the Irish agri-food sector, and (v) Ireland’s response to the financial crisis.
Should you feel that you wish to apply under any of the above schemes, we at Aidan T. Stapleton & Co. (http://www.stapletonsolicitors.ie) will be able to assist you and guide you through the process. We have vast experience in this area of law having provided support and assistance to many previous applicants as well as extensive representations to the Department of Justice and Equality in respect of the existing schemes.