Do you have an amazing and innovative business idea that you are looking to try out and you have fancied Ireland to be the best place to set it up? If yes, then you might want to consider taking a business immigration program in Ireland. There are two immigration programs for business persons seeking to invest in the country. The first one is the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which is Ireland’s investor visa. The second program is the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP), which is an entrepreneurial visa in the country. Nationals from non-EU/EEA countries are the only ones required to have these visas for them to operate a business in Ireland, as EU/EEA citizens have the freedom to go into the country to pursue their legitimate goals without any visas. Let’s take a look at the visa programs in detail:
Immigrant Investor Visa (IIP)
The following are the eligibility factors for this particular visa:
- A 2 million Euro minimum net worth is a must
- The investor plus their immediate family can come to Ireland on multi-entry visas and are allowed to stay in the country for a period of up to five years with a possibility of renewal.
- If the application is successful, the investor doesn’t have to live in the country but have to visit Ireland once per year in the least.
- For you to qualify for this visa, your investment has to be one of the following:
- Enterprise investment – this is a 1 million-plus Euro investment in an existing or new business in the country. The business can be a start-up that’s registered by the investor. The investor may choose to invest in a single Irish business or can spread their investment to a number of enterprises. For the business to be allowed to operate in Ireland, it has to be headquartered in the country, and it also has to create employment for Irish citizens.
- Investment fund – a one million-plus euro investment in an investment fund for a minimum of three years. The investment funds have to be invested in projects and businesses in the country.
- Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) – a two million-plus euro investment in any Irish REIT which are listed in the country’s stock exchange. The investment is allowed to be spread across various Irish REITs.
- Endowment – this is a 500000 euro investment that benefits the sports, arts, culture, health or education. And if the applicants are a group of at least five persons, the endowment can be 400000 euros per individual.
Note this, the investor visa is not a citizenship-by-investment program. But those investors who are given this visa are eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalisation under the same conditions and in the same way as other non-Irish citizens. Also, the government of Ireland doesn’t have any responsibility in the investment’s performance. The government considers investments to be a private matter between the concerned parties, and that it’s the investors’ responsibility, just like in any business, to assess their ventures’ potential success. Approval of an IIP application doesn’t, in any case, signify the endorsement of that particular project. It only signifies approval of the investor, and that the said investment satisfies all the requirements of an immigrant investor program.
Foreign investors should also note that in no way will a loan provided to the applicant for the purpose of IIP application be deemed as an appropriate source of funding. So, know that when applying for an IIP, a comprehensive examination is carried so as to figure out the source of the proposed resources, and you will also require the proper supporting documents which attest to the source of your funds.
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)
The Irish government went ahead to offer an entrepreneurial visa, in an attempt to tap into the entrepreneurial potential among the migrants. This program allows non- EU/EEA citizens with a minimum investment amount of 50000 euros and has an innovative business idea to come into the country and set up a business. And when there is more than one principle and are all involved in opening the same business, then the second and subsequent entrepreneurs are required to have a minimum of 30000 euros per principle as their investment funds.
For a start-up venture to be eligible, it must meet the following requirements:
- Must introduce an innovative or new service or product to the international markets.
- Must be involved in international traded services or manufacturing
- The start-up must be able to create at least 10 jobs in the country and should also be able to realize a minimum of 1 million euros in sales during the first four years of starting up.
- The business must be led and managed by a team of experienced managers.
- The business has to have its headquarters in Ireland
- And lastly, the business has to be less than 5 years old.
For foreign entrepreneurs who are attending innovation boot-camps or incubators in Ireland, a 12-month immigration permission is granted to them. During this time, the entrepreneurs are able to prepare a STEP application and thus provide migrant entrepreneurs with an identifiable route to move from being a start-up into the realisation phase of their business. What’s more, the 12 month period is also granted to non-EEA students who were pursuing advanced STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering as well as mathematics – degrees in the country and want to prepare a STEP application. The STEP program doesn’t apply to catering, retail, personal services or any other business of that sort. The reason being, these types of businesses are known to have no job creation targets, especially given the fact that they may take some time before they are off the ground.
As a foreign investor, you definitely will need information on a number of issues, such as legal and tax requirements. So, visit as many sites as possible and ensure that you gather as much information as you possibly can on the Irish legal structure and tax requirements.