Irish Citizenship By Investment Program Review

Irish Immigrant Investor Program Review

Brexit and the UK’s impending departure from the EU has resulted in tens of thousands of disgruntled Brits checking their heritage for Irish ancestry and the possibility of an Irish/EU passport and dual citizenship. For foreign investors with an interest in living, working and investing in the Emerald Isle there is the Irish Immigrant Investor Program. Passport Reviewer checked it out.

 

Republic of Ireland In A Nutshell

Ireland, officially the Republic of Ireland, is a Northwestern European sovereign state and an island nation situated in the Atlantic ocean. Also known as Eire, it occupies approximately 85% of the island known as Ireland, the other 15% being taken up by Northern Ireland, which is itself part of the United Kingdom. Ireland is separated from the UK by the North Channel, the Irish Sea and St. George Chanel. Ireland is the third largest island in Europe, behind Great Britain and Iceland.

After 800 years of English rule, the Irish Republic was first proclaimed in 1916, its independence was declared three years later, and that was officially granted with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922, although it maintained a state of dominion until 1937, and wasn’t officially declared a republic until 1949. Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955, and in 1973 joined the EEC (European Economic Community), the predecessor of the European Union, and became part of the Eurozone in 2002.

 

Irish Economy

In 2008 Ireland was hit hard by the global economic crash, and suffered for several years before experiencing a dramatic turnaround. By 2015 Ireland had the fastest growing economy in the EU, and the Republic was ranked joint-sixth (with Germany no-less) in the United Nations Human Development Index list of the most developed countries in the world.

Despite its relatively small population of less than five million, Ireland’s buoyant economy draws on a wide variety of sectors, including financial services, the alcoholic beverage industry, aircraft leasing (most airlines lease the aircraft they use, and 14 of the top 15 leasing companies are based in Ireland, with €100 billion in assets), engineering, Information and communications technology (ICT) – the top ten ICT companies are located in Ireland, with over 200 companies in total based there.

Tourism is also a major contributor to the Irish economy, with 7.5 million visitors each year. The Irish tourism industry is worth €5 billion a year and employs over 200,000 people. The world-famous Frommer’s Tourism Guide voted island their “Favorite Holiday Destination In The World”, and the Lonely Planet travel guidebook listed Ireland as the world’s friendliest country.

 

Ireland Stats:

  • Official Languages: Irish, English
  • Capital City: Dublin
  • Largest City: Dublin (pop: 553,000)
  • Surface Area: 70,273 km2
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Population: 4.75 million
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • Legal system: common-law/parliamentary democracy
  • Currency: Euro
  • GDP per capita: $69,375
  • Climate: Abundant rainfall throughout the year. The sunniest months in Ireland are May and June. Winters in Ireland are mild

 

Irish Immigrant Investor Program

Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Program is aimed at wealthy high net worth investors from outside the EU and EEA who are willing to invest a significant sum into Ireland in return for five years (or more) of residency there for themselves and their family. The long-term hope of the program’s creators is for the investors to establish a permanent relationship with Ireland.

Each potential investor’s application will be carefully examined by an independent interdepartmental committee who are looking to determine the following:

  • That the investment is good for Ireland
  • That the investment will create jobs
  • That the investment is in the public interest
  • That the funds invested have been legally acquired
  • That the investor is of good character

To be considered suitable for the Irish Immigrant Investor Program, an applicant must invest in one of the following six categories:

  • Immigrant Investor Bond – €1.0 million investment in Irish Government Bonds at 0% interest
  • Enterprise investment – €1.0 million invested into an Irish business enterprise for 3 years
  • Investment Funds – €1.0 million invested in a government approved fund
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts – A minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The investment can be spread across several Irish REITs
  • Mixed Investment – A real estate purchase for the minimum value of €450,000 plus an investment of €500,000 into Irish Government Bonds, giving a combined minimum investment of €950,000
  • Endowment – A €500,000 non-refundable philanthropic donation

 

Benefits Of The Irish Immigrant Investor Program

Successful applicants can expect to enjoy these benefits:

  • 5 years of Irish residency (reviewed after two years to ensure the investor is meeting the conditions of their particular investment)
  • After the initial 5 years, the investor can renew their residency every five years without having to make any further investments
  • Family members are granted residency at no additional cost
  • The investor is not required to establish actual residence in Ireland
  • There are no minimum residence requirements other than the stipulation that the investor must visit Ireland at least once each year
  • After five years of living and working in Ireland, an investor can apply for naturalization, which is Irish citizenship and its passport
  • Ireland is an EU member state, and its citizens have the right to live and work in any other European Union country without time restriction and with the same rights to health care and education as the citizens born to that country
  • The Irish passport is the sixth most powerful in the world, with visa free access to 172 countries. The areas of the world where an Irish passport holder can venture visa free include the Americas in their entirety (Canada, the USA, Central America, the Caribbean and all of South America), Western Europe in its entirety, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, areas of Asia and Southeast Asia and all of Australasia

 

Pros and Cons of Living in Ireland

Pros

Geographically Ireland may be a small country, but it has an enormous amount to offer. Despite its size it is still spacious, with lots of things to do and places to visit including beautiful beaches, mountains and lakes, plus an abundance of great golf courses. The standard of living in Ireland is on a par with any major EU nation including France and Germany. Irish people are extremely sociable and enjoy a strong –family-orientated social life.

Ireland has excellent healthcare and education, the cost of living is reasonable and the price of property is cheaper now than it was 10 years ago. Ireland is an EU member state that relies on trade with the European Union to sustain its economy and has no intention of a Brexit-style referendum anytime soon. The Irish passport is one of the most powerful in the world with visa-free access to 172 countries.

Cons

It rains in Ireland – a lot! While the summers are sunny, they are somewhat brief, so holidays to the continent are a necessity. Ireland is very much a drinking culture and much of the social life centers around the local pub which can result in nondrinkers feeling somewhat ostracized.

 

Passport Reviewer Ranking: A

The Irish Immigrant Investor Program is – to use an Irish horseracing term – something of a “dark horse” in that it doesn’t get the publicity and rave reviews of investor visa programs like St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by investment program or Belgium and Portugal’s investor residency programs, and yet it is every bit as good, maybe even better.

Okay, the weather can be bleak, and the only place to avoid the rain seems to be the local pub but Ireland is a country geared up to business, which is ideal for ambitious foreign investors. There are no less than six investment options to choose from, with the cheapest option being a €500,000 charitable donation.

If an investor is prepared to live in Ireland for five years they will be eligible to apply for full Irish citizenship and its passport. The program also allows for applicants family members to be granted residency at no additional cost. All in all, the Irish Immigrant Investor Program is an exceptionally good program, and an ideal way for a foreign investor to gain full EU citizenship.