Are you open to making a significant investment in the Irish economy, or do you have an innovative business idea and see Ireland as the perfect place to build it out? If so, you might consider one of Ireland’s business immigration programmes.
Ireland currently offers two business immigration programmes: the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) which, in essence, is Ireland’s investor visa, and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) which is Ireland’s entrepreneurial visa . Both visa programmes are open to citizens of non-EU/EEA countries only, as EU/EEA citizens already have the freedom to move to Ireland and pursue their legitimate business goals in the country (for more on that, please visit this page).
In announcing these business immigration programmes in 2012, then Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter, stated that “These two initiatives are about protecting existing jobs and creating new opportunities. Ireland clearly needs investment and there is considerable potential out there. However we don’t have the field to ourselves. We are in competition with other countries who are already operating in this space”.
Ireland’s investor and entrepreneurial visas provide non-EEA citizens with the opportunity to grow and build their business in Ireland.
Ireland's Investor Visa: The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)
To find out if the IIP is right for you, please review the overview and eligibility factors outlined below:
- A minimum net worth of €2 million is required.
- Investors and their immediate family enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain here for up to five years with the possibility of ongoing renewal.
- Successful applicants do not have to live in Ireland to avail of the programme, but they must visit Ireland at least once per year.
- The investment must be one of the following:
- Enterprise Investment: A minimum €1 million investment in a new or existing Irish businesses for a minimum of three years. The enterprise can be a start-up registered by the investor. The investment can be in a single Irish enterprise or spread over a number of enterprises. The enterprise must be registered and headquartered in Ireland and the investment must support the creation or maintenance of employment.
- Investment Fund: A minimum of €1 million investment in an investment fund for at least three years. Investment funds must invest in Irish businesses and projects. There is no list of approved funds but the criteria for investment funds are listed here.
- Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT): A minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The investment may be spread across a number of Irish REITs.
- Endowment: €500,000 to a public project benefiting the arts, sports, health, culture or education. The endowment can be €400,000 per investor if it is pooled by at least five individuals.
Note that the IIP is not a citizenship-by-investment programme. Successful applicants may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation in the same way and under the same conditions as all other non-Irish nationals.
Ireland' Entrepreneur Visa: The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)
Citing a need “to do more to tap into the entrepreneurial potential that exists among migrants,” the government of Ireland offers the STEP, which allows a non-EEA national with an innovative business idea and a minimum investment of €50,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland.
Where more than one principal is involved in establishing the business, the minimum investment for the second and subsequent entrepreneur will be €30,000 per principal.
Eligible start-up ventures must:
- introduce a new or innovative product or service to international markets;
- be involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services;
- be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up;
- be led by an experienced management team;
- be headquartered and controlled in Ireland; and
- be less than five years old.
A 12-month immigration permission is available for foreign entrepreneurs attending incubators or innovation bootcamps in Ireland. The 12-month permission will allow these entrepreneurs to prepare an application to the STEP and thus provide an identifiable route for migrant entrepreneurs to move from the start-up to realisation phase of their projects. This 12-month period will also be made available to non-EEA students who graduate with advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees in Ireland and who wish to work on preparing an application for the STEP.