Ireland: investor and entrepreneur visas (from 50k euros)

Your 6 Options

1. The Incubator Visa

Ireland: investor and entrepreneur visas-The Incubator Visa

Foreign national entrepreneurs attending incubators or innovation boot camps in Ireland to allow them to prepare a further application.

The visa itself is with an eye to applying for the Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme application. If you go through certain steps, you can set up your own business with a route to the equivalent of permanent residence – so a Stamp 4 visa – after 2 years,. And Irish citizenship after 5 years.

Unlike with the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme, there are no initial job creation targets. Essentially, it is recognized that businesses can take some time to get off the ground.

I have developed a programme with my Irish lawyers and incubator. To assist entrepreneurs with getting the support of an incubator. And applying under this route, whether or not their business – AS IT IS AT THE MOMENT – qualifies for the Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme criteria or not, so do email or message me if this is of interest to you.

Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme

The reason this is interesting is that unlike the Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme – where you need to invest 50,000 – there is no upfront investment.

And unlike the STEP programme, you don’t have to prove the potential for a 1m export income and 10 employees within 3-4 years.

Not everyone’s business idea is going to fit that description.

That is why I assist clients with a programme of support, to put them in the best position possible to receive the support of a nominated incubator. And you have a route to setting up your own business and qualifying for a stamp 4 visa after 2 years, and for citizenship after 5 years.

Critical skills requirement 

The potential catch is that you must have a “critical skill” for this option to be open. There are 2 categories of eligible occupations for a Critical Skills Employment Permit:

Jobs with annual salaries of €60,000 or more – all occupations (other than certain ineligible job categories and those which are contrary to the public interest)

Jobs with annual salaries of €30,000 or more – the occupation must be on the Highly Skilled Occupations List.

Critical Skills Employment Permit

A labor market needs test is not required for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. So the employer does not need to advertise the job with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection employment services/EURES or in newspapers.

However, an employment permit will not be granted to companies where more than 50% of the employees are non-EEA nationals.

I’m going to be producing more videos and articles on this option. Do get in touch with me in the interim if this is of interest.

2. The Start Up Entrepreneur Program

 

The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) provides residency in Ireland for migrants to develop their start-up business.

Applicants for this programme need funding of €50,000 for their business or business proposal. Which can be your own money or could be gifted from a friend or family member, for example.

It can also come from a business loan, venture capital funding or a grant from an Irish State Agency. It could also be from a combination of any of these. If you are looking for funding, I can put you in touch with a couple of providers.

Ireland: investor and entrepreneur visas-The Start Up Entrepreneur Program

As I say, under this option, your business has to be what’s called a ‘high-potential start-up’. This means, in very broad terms, a viable business or business plan, which has the potential to introducesomething new or innovative on an international level.

It can’t be a business in retail, it can’t be to do with providing a personal service, and it can’t be anything to do with catering.

It must be a business that is offering something new and innovative, which has the potential to achieve success in introducing a product or service to international markets.

This could include a business in tech, for example, in the med tech or fintech space.

10 jobs in Ireland within 3 to 4 years

The business must be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

It’s important to note here that this doesn’t mean you actually have to create 10 jobs, but it must be viable that the business plan could produce 10 jobs. These jobs have to be in Ireland.

The business must be capable of achieving €1 million sales within 3-4 years of starting up. Again, this is about viability: it doesn’t mean the business must achieve this.  It’s got to be demonstrated in the business plan that it could achieve this.

However, the Committee considering your application still needs to be satisfied that this very high threshold has been met. So if you are not confident that you will meet it, speak to me and we can have a look at whether option 1 – the incubation route – may be the best way forward.

Business requirement 

It’s also got to be a young business.  This means it’s less than 6 years old.  So a business could be a couple of years old and you are re-locating to Ireland, or it could be a business that hasn’t yet been started. It can’t be a subsidiary of foreign business.

The business also has to have an experienced management team.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a lot of experience as the applicant, but the management team of the business has to show expertise – so there have to be experienced business managers on board. You need to demonstrate to the immigration authorities that there is an adequate level of experience to support the business.

You apply as the main applicant. You can bring your wife, who applies at the same time, along with your children aged 18-24 and your children under 18.

You can all apply together

Evaluation committee

You have to submit a business plan which will be assessed by the evaluation committee. I have example business plans – if you want to get in touch with me I can talk you through the process of putting a business plan together for the purposes of step. If the business has already started and it will be relocating to Ireland, then the most recent audited accounts will also need to be submitted.

Evidence of the funding of €50,000 will also be needed. As well as evidence that this money can be transferred to Ireland and converted to Euros if the application is successful.

If your business plan is approved, you will then have to prove that you are a person of good character.

STEP Programme

Once these steps have been passed, you will be invited to apply for residency in Ireland for you and your family under the STEP programme.

Applicants who are successful at this stage will then have to transfer the required funding to a business bank account in Ireland. You are then granted residence permission in Ireland.

So as I said, the Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme is great for some. It is not for everyone, and if it’s not for you, there is always the incubator route for consideration. If you are not sure which side of the threshold you call, by all means, get in touch as we can talk about the immigration strategy.

3. Charitable donation

 

Just like the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme, the Charitable Donation option allows for you and your family to secure residency in Ireland and, after 5 years, apply for citizenship.

Now, what constitutes a charitable donation?

It’s also called an endowment, which means it must have a clear public benefit.  This means is must be a payment towards furthering a project in the arts, sports, health, culture or education field.

Ireland: investor and entrepreneur visas-Charitable donation

You can’t receive any return from it.  It’s a gift, in other words, a philanthropic contribution.

You will have to provide details of how the beneficiary of your charitable donation will use the funds.  There must be a resulting public benefit in Ireland.

This option is perhaps interesting if you already engage in philanthropy and like to support projects benefiting the public in Ireland.

Irish residency

It’s one of the more straightforward options for securing Irish residency.

This is because once the investment has been made, there aren’t additional financial obligations.  So once you invest the €500,000, you have fulfilled the criteria for the Programme.

What’s more, if you apply as part of a group of 5 or more investors, you can combine your philanthropic investments to a project. This reduces the amount required to €400,000 each.

Before we go through at the application process in more detail, let’s look at the other investment options for securing residency under the Immigrant Investor Programme.

4. The Enterprise Investment Route

 

The investment must be in either in a single Irish enterprise or spread across a number of enterprises. This enterprise could be a start-up you’ve established – so it could be your business, or it could be an existing businessregistered in Ireland.

The enterprise investment requirements

The investment has to be held for a minimum of 3 years.

You have to make the investment in your name.  It can’t be an investment in your company, even if you own 100% of your company.

The investment must support the creation or maintenance of employment.

This means it can’t support a companyre-structuring exercise –  and reduce the number of its staff in the process, for example.

So, in broad terms, the enterprise investment option is suitable if you would like to either create a new business in Ireland or if you’d like to invest in an existing business operating in Ireland.

5. The Investment Fund route

You can secure residency in Ireland under the Immigrant Investor Programme by investing €1,000,000 in an Investment Fund.

The Fund must have been approved for this purpose by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (or INIS).

There are different options and risk profiles, depending on which one you opt for. There are significant differences between them, in terms of credibility and ease of use, and the service they provide. I don’t provide financial advice, but I can explain the broad framework and give you a steer if you want to speak with me.

The investment fund professional will manage your €1,000,000 investment in Ireland – and it goes without saying that it’s important to get the right one.

Freedom at last! Your residency permissions

You and your family can live and work in Ireland for 2 years.

You will be given a multiple-entry visa for this period. This means you can then enter and leave Ireland as you please.

In terms of absences, you only have to be physically in Ireland for very short periods each year.

You can’t use public funds in Ireland. So you and your family will need private medical insurance.

Once the 2 years have passed, the residency permit can be renewed for an additional 3 years.

Ireland: investor and entrepreneur visas-The Investment Fund route

This 5 year period puts you in a position to apply for the equivalent of permanent residence, which renews every 5 years.  After the initial 5 years, then subject to how long you have spent physically in Ireland, you can apply for Irish citizenship.

You would then become an Irish national and citizen of the European Union.  Ireland is a committed member of Europe and of the EU, unlike the UK in light of Brexit.

This gives significant benefits to Irish citizens, such as free movement around the EU. But even after Brexit, with your Irish passport, you can also travel freely between Ireland and the UK.  This means that you and your family can access the UK as well as the EU with an Irish passport, after Brexit.

6. Real Estate Investment Trust option

This option lets you invest €2,000,000 in property in Ireland by using a low-risk investment model. Although it is a higher investment amount than the other routes, the investment is capable of generating a regular income-stream. A Real Estate Investment Trust is essentially a listed company which holds rental investment properties and provides an after-tax return for investors.

You can invest €2,000,000 in a single Irish Real Estate Investment Trust, or spread your investment across several.

You must hold the investment for 3 years, even if the share value increases above the €2m threshold.

After the 3 years have passed, you can divest half of the shares.

After another year – so 4 years after the original investment – a further 25% of the original shares can be divested.

A year after that, so after 5 years of investment in the Trust, all of the shares can be divested.

7. Outcomes for you – the benefits

Once the 2 years have passed, the residency permit can be renewed for an additional 3 years.

This 5 year period puts you in a position to apply for the equivalent of permanent residence, which renews every 5 years.  After the initial 5 years, then subject to how long you have spent physically in Ireland, you can apply for Irish citizenship.

You would then become an Irish national and citizen of the European Union.  Ireland is a committed member of Europe and of the EU, unlike the UK in light of Brexit.

This gives significant benefits to Irish citizens, such as free movement around the EU. But even after Brexit, with your Irish passport, you can also travel freely between Ireland and the UK.  This means that you and your family can access the UK as well as the EU with an Irish passport, after Brexit.

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