Ireland Golden Visa Program 2021: Ultimate Investor Guide

Looking to obtain Irish residency by investment in 2020? The Ireland Golden Visa Program, formally known as the Ireland Immigrant Investor Program, offers non-EEA nationals the ability to settle in the Emerald Isle on the basis of making a significant investment. With eligible investments starting from €1 million, and donation-based applications priced from €500,000, the program is not cheap, but given that it opens the doors to legally settling in Ireland, an increasing number of foreign investors have been applying for the program since 2019.

Find out more about the Irish Golden Visa Program below, or contact us now for more information.

Overview of the Irish Investor Visa

The Ireland Immigrant Investor Program was launched in 2012, providing wealthy foreign individuals and their families hailing from outside the European Union to obtain Irish residency by investment on the basis of making a meaningful contribution to the Irish economy. The key objective of the program is to facilitate Irish job creation.

While the program does not offer a property-based investment option, it does offer investors a range of business and fund based investment options to cater for a range of investor risk appetites. The various investment options are discussed in more detail below.

It is important to note that Ireland does not offer a citizenship by investment program, nor any fast track investment programs for obtaining Irish residency. The Immigrant Investor Program is a Stamp 4 type visa, which can be indefinitely renewed, provided that the applicant continues to maintain the relevant program requirements, and continues maintain impeccable international standing.

The program does offer a clear path to permanent settlement, however this requires the Golden Visa holder to maintain their residency status and full-time in-country settlement for a minimum period of 5 years. Price wise, the program competes favourably with the UK Tier 1 Investor Program as well as the US EB-5 Investor Visa.

Program Investment Options (2020 / 2021)

The Irish Immigrant Investor Program offers foreign investors the following investment options for obtaining Irish residency:

  1. Irish Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) investments: €2 million: A REIT is a listed company that houses rental properties in a way that reduces investor risk and avoids double taxation. Eligible REITs must either be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE), or have already applied for listing and given notice of this to the Revenue Commissioners.  

REITs typically invest in a range of diverse properties with a view to minimize risk, and distributes the lion’s share of its profits on an annual basis. Under the Irish Golden Visa Program, applicants must invest €2 million for a minimum period of 3 years, even if the value of the investment appreciates beyond the €2 million threshold during this time. After 3 years, the investor can reduce their shareholding by a maximum of 50%. After 4 years, they are allowed to divest an additional 25%, and after 5 years they may divest fully while still being eligible to retain their residency status.

NB: Be sure to seek approval from Immigration Ireland before you invest in any REITs, as investments made without approval will not be eligible to serve as the basis for an Irish Golden Visa application.

  1. Irish Enterprise Investments: €1 million: A minimum qualifying Irish enterprise investment, maintained for a minimum period of 3 years, can serve as the basis upon which an Irish Investor Visa is obtained. The enterprise being invested in can be a new or existing Irish business, however it must be registered and headquartered in Ireland. Furthermore, the potential for sustainable job creation is a key consideration in terms of getting your application approved by the Irish immigration authorities.

    Qualifying enterprise investments must be made in the applicant’s own name, i.e. not within a company, corporation or trust). In addition, investments in publicly traded shares and buy-to-let property are not eligible under the Ireland Golden Visa Program.

    Prospective applicants have the option of pooling their investment capital, provided that each individual applicant still meets the individual program investment criteria. Similarly, applicants can invest in multiple qualifying enterprises, provided that the minimum investment threshold is met in total.

  1. Approved Investment Fund Investments: €1 million: Depending on your choice of investment fund, the minimum investment period is 3 to 5 years (e.g. in the case of IDLF investments). Irish Golden Visa applicants are only allowed to invest in funds that have been pre-approved for the program by Immigration Ireland. All qualifying funds must focus on venture capital (VC) and private equity for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Qualifying funds must also have a minimum target size of €20 million.

Any enterprise shares purchased by the funds must be within Irish registered businesses whose shares are not publicly tradable. In addition, the funds and their managers must be regulated by the Irish Central Bank, and only seasoned fund managers located within Ireland are eligible for approval under the Golden Visa Program.

A key criterion for fund approval is the potential for meaningful and sustainable job creation, not the potential for creating meaningful value for the investor. It is also vital to note that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) does not recommend or guarantee the performance of funds that have been pre-approved under the program. It is therefore highly advisable to consult a suitably qualified Irish immigration lawyer before any securities are purchased with a view to obtain Irish residency under the Irish golden residency program.

  1. Philanthropic Project Endowments (Donation Option): €500,000: A non-refundable donation to a qualifying project in the arts, healthcare, sports, educational or sports spheres can serve as the basis for an Irish Golden Visa application. Where 4 or more applicants donate in concert, the minimum eligible donation amount is reduced to €400,000 per applicant. It is important to note that investors are not allowed to receive any financial return on investment based on their investment for this investment residency option. (In light of the fact that this is a non-refundable donation, no minimum lock-in period applies.)

Why choose Ireland for a Golden Visa

INVEST IN A STABLE DEMOCRACY: For many affluent nationals of countries such as Hong Kong, China and the United States, the Ireland Golden Visa program offers more than just second residency; it represents freedom and stability. Ireland is renowned for its protection of foreign ownership rights. It is very much open for international business, and it has a reputation for protecting international investors’ funds and interests.

DIVERSIFIED ECONOMY: Unlike many of the nations offering residency and citizenship by investment, the Irish economy is not driven by a few industries only: Ireland boasts a mature, diversified economy where fintech, big pharma, IT, Engineering, manufacturing, production, medtech and the engineering sectors all make a significant contribution to the country’s prosperity. Ireland boasts one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, and it ranks as the 6th best performing economy globally.

WORLD-CLASS TERTIARY EDUCATION: Ireland is home to many of the top universities and colleges in the world. It therefore comes as no surprise that high net worth individuals (HNWIs) from across the developing world obtain residency in the Emerald Isle with a view to give their children access to a world-class education and employment opportunities with some of the most sought-after employer brands in the world.

 LOW TAXATION: The country’s tax regime is one of the key reasons why many of the world’s top companies are headquartered in Dublin. The standard company tax rate is 12.5%, while IT companies are eligible to pay as little as 6.25% in taxes. Furthermore, dividends sourced abroad are subject to an effective tax rate of 0%.

EU TECHNOLOGY HUB: Dublin is home to the operations of over 1,000 global companies, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, PayPal, Twitter, eBay, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and a host of other large, technology-oriented companies.

 QUALITY OF LIFE: Featuring endless verdant hills, dramatic coastal vistas and a thriving cultural scene, Ireland is a place of pure magic. Its residents are far happier than those of countries such as the USA, Hong Kong, Lebanon, France, South Africa and Germany, to name but a few.


The Irish Golden Visa application process

STEP 1: Consult a suitable qualified and focused Irish immigration lawyer

STEP 2: Evaluate the available Irish Golden Visa investment options in concert with your preferred lawyer and compile all required supporting documentation

STEP 3: Submit an application to immigration Ireland based on your preferred investment option, along with the required supporting documentation. No investment is required at this time.

STEP 4: Obtain approval of your application from the Immigration Ireland Evaluation Committee. The Committee is empowered to recommend Irish Golden Visa applications for approval by the Minister for Justice and Equality.

STEP 5: Once the Ministry approves your Golden Visa application, you must make the required investment and submit proof that it has been made in full.

STEP 6: Obtain comprehensive private medical insurance and submit proof thereof.

STEP 7: Submit your Affidavit of Good Character, which can be obtained from lawyer licensed to practice in Ireland. This requirement is separate from the statement of good character from the police, which would have been required and submitted during the initial application.

STEP 8: Once your investment has been confirmed, you will be granted an initial two-year residency in Ireland, along with any eligible family members included in the application.