From an entrepreneurship point of view, Ireland is one of the most prolific countries in Europe and the European Union. While the citizens of EU member states do not need a specific visa to immigrate to Ireland in order to start a business here, non-EU citizens must have had to go through a lengthy process before entering the country until a few years ago. In 2012, the government created the Ireland investment visa under which foreign citizens of non-EU and non-EEA countries can move to Ireland much simpler.
Also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, the scheme introduced and amended several times by the Irish authorities is now one of the most successful in Europe. If you are a non-EU citizen and are planning to apply for the Ireland investment visa, please know that this program has been officially closed starting with 15 February 2023.
As an investor relocated here for business purposes, you must also make sure that you have an Irish residence permit, regardless of the immigration program you participate in.
In general, a person can obtain permanent residence in Ireland in a period of 5 years since the arrival. The obligation to apply for a residence permit appears when a foreigner relocates to this country for a period longer than 90 days.
The foreigner will initially obtain a temporary residence permit, issued for the purpose of the arrival (investments, business, work, study, family reunification, etc.).
Investors who will receive permanent residence can use this right for the purpose of applying for citizenship in Ireland, if they want to become citizens.
In Ireland, a person can acquire citizenship by 3 main options – naturalization, by birth or by descent. In most cases, foreigners will have to start the citizenship by naturalization procedure, applicable to those who are not related to Ireland in any way.
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Requirements for obtaining an Ireland investment visa in 2023
As mentioned above, the first and most important requirement for the Immigrant Investor Scheme is for the applicant to be a non-EU national. Then, he or she must comply with specific regulations among which being at least 18 years old, having a clean criminal record, and sufficient funds to obtain the visa. Although the program has recently been closed (February 2023), the investors who have been approved under this visa scheme will not be affected by the closing of the program.
|Nationalities accepted (EU/Non-EU)|
EU citizens do not need a visa. It is designed for non-EU and non-EEA investors
Business investment option (YES/NO)
|yes, investments in bonds, in Irish incorporated businesses, in investment funds, in real estate, philantrophy projects|
Real estate investment option (YES/NO)
|Other investment options |
|a combination of investment in real estate and government bonds|
|Living requirement in Ireland (YES/NO)||not mandatory|
|Residence or direct citizenship option|
successful applicants will receive the Stamp 4 Residence Permit, which can open the pathway to permanent residency if the investments are maintained as per the selected investment program
|Direct immigration with family members (YES/NO)|
yes, only after the investment is approved
|Family members allowed to join the program||spouse, civil partner, partner (for unmarried couples), minor children with an age below 18 years old, and children with an age between 18 to 24 years old, as long as they are dependent (not having their own sources of income)|
|Residence visa/citizenship processing time (approx.)||approximately 5-6 months|
|Additional financial requirements for family members (YES/NO)||not specified|
|Timeframe for obtaining citizenship/residency by investment||5 years for permanent residency / 6 years (the citizenship procedure can be started in a period of 12 months after the permanent residency was granted)|
|Dual citizenship permitted (YES/NO)||yes|
|Reasons to choose |
|Ireland is the 1st country in the world on flexibility, inward investments, investment incentives. / It stands amongst the top 15 countries for innovation./ 10/10 top global pharma companies operate here, 14/15 medical tech companies carry business operations in Ireland|
|Personal income tax rate||2 basic taxes, charged at 20% and 40%|
|Visa free travel to other countries (approx. number of countries)||190 countries|
In terms of investment, Ireland offered various options to whom wanted to obtain an investment visa. These were:
- at least EUR 1 million in immigrant investor bonds which are approved by the government;
- at least EUR 1 million which can be invested in an existing Irish business that has been active for a minimum of 3 years;
- at least EUR 1 million in an investment fund approved by the Irish government;
- at least EUR 2 million in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange;
- a mixed investment which much consist of real estate purchase with a value of EUR 450,000 and government bonds worth a minimum of EUR 500,000;
- a donation to a philanthropic project in various economic sectors worth at least EUR 500,000.
Other aspects that needed to be considered were for the investor to have had a net worth of EUR 2 million and maintain the investment for a minimum period of 2 years. Among all EU countries, Ireland offers the largest variety of possibilities in terms of the investment visa, which can also open the legal pathway to Irish citizenship.
Numerous countries have taken new immigration rules during the traveling restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including Ireland, and this also applies to the visa routes available for foreigners, or the basic rules to obtain the respective visas.
This also applies to visas issued for investments or for business, as it is the case of the investment visa program that was closed in 2023. If you want to invest in Ireland in 2023 and you need to apply for a visa for investments/business, you can always rely on our lawyer for legal advice, who can present other visa options available for businessmen.
One of the ways to apply for a visa for investments in 2023 is to register for the Start-up Entrepreneur Program, which was also enforced in 2012, as the Immigrant Investor Program.
It is also important to know that applications that have already been submitted up until 15 February 2023 which are in the process of waiting for a decision will still be considered even thought the program has officially been closed. According to the Irish Government, by the closing of the program, there were 1,500 applications to be reviewed.
Documents required for the Irish investor visa
The list of documents that had to be submitted by the person who was seeking to apply for an Ireland investment visa was quite comprehensive. Apart from the valid passport, each investment option had to be documented separately. The list included some of the following:
- a solid business plans in which each financial investment is well-described (the plan must contain details about the creation or maintenance of jobs);
- information about the financial activity of the applicant in the past 12 months;
- proof of the EUR 2 million net worth was also required under the form of a bank statement or other supporting documents;
- the amount of money to be invested in the company had to be deposited in an Irish bank account;
- the source or sources of the funds had to be properly documented;
- detailed information about the company in which the foreign investor would have invested in.
It was also possible to obtain an Ireland investment visa by relocating an existing business in this country for those who own one. Considering that for other investment options, the documents to be prepared are different to some extent, you can ask for the support of our immigration lawyers in Ireland who can help you prepare them. If you want to permanently relocate here, you must know that you can obtain the Irish citizenship as well, and this can also apply to your family members who have relocated here.
Is there a start-up visa program in Ireland?
Yes, foreign businessmen who are interested in an Ireland investment visa for a start-up program can apply for a visa program that is specifically designed for start-up companies. Compared to the investment programs we have presented above, one should know that the capital investment is much lower for the start-up visa, which makes it very accessible for investors.
Foreign businessmen can apply for the Start-up Entrepreneur Program (STEP) if they reside in a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA). In order to participate in this program, the investor has to provide extensive details on the his or her business and on the innovative characteristics of the said business, regardless if the company will create a high-tech product or innovative service.
Those who want to move to Ireland for this purpose must know that the minimum investment for the STEP program is of EUR 50,000. In order to achieve other requirements of the program, investors have to register a company in Ireland, that will function in this country. You can request in-depth legal assistance and legal representation on this matter from our immigration lawyer in Ireland, but you can also observe some of the characteristics of the program in the list below:
- the company in Ireland has to create an innovative product or service that will have the potential of being sold on international markets;
- the company can be involved in the manufacturing of the said product or services;
- the company can also operate as a business involved in services traded at a global level;
- the start-up company must be able to create 10 new jobs on the Irish employment market;
- in terms or revenues, the company must achieve EUR 1 million in sales in a period of 3-4 years since its incorporation;
- the founders must be able of hiring a management team with experience in the field and, of course, the company has to be managed from Ireland.
Investors will be allowed to move to Ireland for a period of 12 months for the preparation of their documents and participation in various start-up programs, with the purpose of entering the STEP program. In this sense, the participants of this program will receive a 12 months immigration permission, which will provide the right to reside in Ireland.
One must know that the STEP application process has to be started here and that this program is also addressed to young persons who are enrolled in STEM tertiary studies in Ireland (STEM defines a wide range of specializations related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) who want to participate in the STEP program.
Please mind that the STEP program is open solely to certain industries; for instance, companies operating in the retail industry are not entitled to enter this program; you can request more information on this matter from our immigration lawyer in Ireland.
According to the law on immigration in Ireland, the right to participate in this program is available for those who are residents outside EEA countries, who have a very solid business plan that can convey the innovative part of the company. At the same, the applicant should not have any conviction in his or her home country.
When applying for this program, the applicant has to pay a fee of EUR 350, a fee that is non-refundable, regardless of the outcome of the application. When submitting the papers, after the fee is paid, an Independent Evaluation Committee will analyze the application. In the situation in which the committee considers that the project is realistic and can actually be implemented, the application will be sent to the Ministry of Justice for further clarifications. Please mind that in this phase of the evaluation, you may need to submit additional documents, if the Irish authorities may need further details.
If the application will receive a positive answer from the Ministry of Justice, then you will receive the right to move to Ireland for the purpose of starting a business. When relocating to Ireland, you will need to comply with additional requirements, outside the ones imposed for this visa program.
For instance, you will have to work full-time on your newly founded company and you will also not have other employment arrangements than the ones of your business for which you have received the STEP visa. In the case in which you will fail to comply with all the requirements, the Irish state can withdraw the right to residency.
We invite you to address to our immigration lawyer in Ireland for in-depth advice on the application process; you can also request information on the law regulating the registration of a company or other regulations that can be helpful for foreign investors.
How to choose the best investment option
Ireland is one of the few countries to offer multiple choices to those who want to immigrate here based on investment. While for some the possibility of starting a business is the most viable, for others buying a property in Ireland seems like a better option. Either way, the amount of money to be injected is nearly the same. In order to find out if the value of the property is EUR 450,000, the future owner can make an inquiry with the Irish Land Registrar.
Other important aspects to consider when applying for an Ireland investment visa is that the Irish residence permit is first issued for 2 years and then can be renewed for 3 more years. Following that, the foreign citizen can apply for an Irish permanent residence permit. The investor visa is one of the fastest routes for non-EU citizens who want to move to Ireland, so if you are interested in this program, do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers for assistance.