The Ireland citizenship by investment program was running in Europe from 1989 to 1994.
According to Art 16 (a) of the 1956 Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act exceptional naturalisation could be granted to people of ‘Irish descent or Irish associations’ while waiving other criteria. In this context, the interpretation of ‘Irish associations’ allowed for the development of the Investment Based Naturalisation Scheme.
The Irish Investor citizenship scheme was terminated in 1994 due to the perception that Irish passports would become depreciated, as the investors ‘have little or no connection with Ireland and no plans to strengthen those connections’ (Seanad Eireann Debate 2002, web), but no legislative change took place. The 2002 Report of the Review Group on Investment Based Naturalisation considered such an interpretation of ‘Irish associations’ to be too broad.
The subsequent Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act (2004) limited the associations to relationship to an Irish citizen by ‘by blood, affinity or adoption’ thus terminating the investor citizenship program (see Handoll 2009).
The citizenship by investment scheme operated by the Irish government allowed anybody to make a one-time investment of £1 million ($1.7m) in return for instant citizenship within 90 days.
Under the scheme, introduced in 1984, applicants seeking naturalisation had to make an investment of £1 million per person in the State. The investment had to be for job creation or job maintenance.
Beneficiaries also had to buy a home in Ireland and reside there for at least 60 days during their first two years of citizenship.
By 1998 approximately 150 passports had been issued under the scheme.
No passport issued under the Irish investor citizenship scheme has ever been revoked.
Immigrant Investor Program (IIP)
Ireland has active Immigrant investor scheme established in 2012 offering full residence rights to foreign investors. Investors may obtain residence in Ireland on the basis of the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) and naturalize for citizenship after five years of living.
Investors must satisfy any one of the investment conditions:
1. Enterprise Investment: A minimum EUR 1 million aggregate investment for a minimum of 3 years
2. Investment Fund: A minimum of EUR 1 million investment in an approved investment fund for a minimum of 3 years
3. REIT: A minimum investment of EUR 2 million in any Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The EUR 2 million investment may be spread across a number of different Irish REITs.
4. Endowment: A minimum endowment of EUR 500,000. The endowment can be EUR 400,000 per investor if it is pooled in by at least five individuals.
Application fee of EUR 1,500 applies
Investors are granted residency permission under “Stamp 4” conditions.
Residency under “Stamp 4” permits investors to work, study, access state funds and services as determined by Government departments or agencies, start and conduct their own business in Ireland (i.e. the right to be self-employed, to market access and to be active in the business), and reside in Ireland on a full-time basis without the requirement to get a work permit. It is noted that applicants under this programme do not have access to social security.
Stamp 4 conditions do not explicitly state that investors are entitled to access healthcare- it says that they can access state funds and services as determined by government departments or agencies. It could be inferred that this includes access to healthcare-however this is not explicitly stated or determined in any of the sources found through desk research. If an investor or his/her family member becomes a citizen of Ireland they will have the right to access health care and social security as any other Irish citizen.
The applicant and dependent family members under the IIP will receive a two-year residency permission under “Stamp 4” conditions. After two years, an extension (i.e. residency renewal) will be granted for an additional three years, and then every five years indefinitely into the future.
The IIP does not provide visa-required nationals with an entitlement to travel to and within the UK (including Northern Ireland) or the rest of the EU without an entry visa (if required). Therefore, holders of a Stamp 4 residence permit obtained through the IIP will be required to apply for visas to enter other countries as required. There are, however, certain agreements between the UK and Ireland with respect to immigration, for example, the “British Irish Visa Scheme” which allows Chinese and Indian citizens to travel to and around the Common Travel Area on a single visa (as opposed to requiring separate Irish and UK visas).
There is no minimum residence requirement other than that the persons concerned spend at least one day in Ireland every year. Therefore, the investor is not required to establish actual residence/physical presence in Ireland. There is also no residency condition for renewing their permission.
With regard to the IIP, an investor may avail of a discount on their investment for educational expenses that they intend to commit to in Ireland. The following conditions apply:
Investors may discount their approved investment with eligible education expenses that they commit
- to incur within the first five years after their permission has been granted;
- The education expenses must be for an Irish University or Institute of Technology;
- The expenses must be for an investor and/or family member who has been accepted on an academic programme in one of the above educational institutions (i.e. they must have a letter of confirmation from the tertiary education institute or university that the investor and/or family member will commence a course at the beginning of the next academic year);
- The maximum discount allowable is EUR 50,000 bringing the investment down to EUR 950,000;
- Retrospective education expenses cannot be included.
There are no special tax regimes for applicants and their family members.
Ireland taxes non-habitual residents only for Ireland-based income and has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%
IIP does not provide for preferential access to naturalisation for successful applicants. Applicants are required to satisfy the following citizenship conditions:
- Applicants must be of full age (i.e. 18 years or older, or married if younger than 18);
- Applicants must be of good character/no criminal convictions (the Garda Síochána (Irish police force) are asked to provide a report on the background of all applicants);
- Applicants must intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation;
- Applicants must make a declaration of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State and avow to observe the nation’s laws and values