Ireland Golden Visa 2021 The Ultimate Guide by Experts | GCS

Are you an international investor or entrepreneur looking to broaden your horizons and gain entry into one of Europe’s most desired nations? The Ireland Investor Visa Scheme — also called the Ireland Golden Visa — offers non-EU nationals and foreign investors the chance of a lifetime. In exchange for a qualifying minimum investment of €500,000, applicants and their family members can receive Ireland residency within a few short months, with EU citizenship possible.

In this Irish Golden Visa guide, you’ll learn about the following:

  • Key investment program benefits
  • Approved investment options for the Ireland Investor Visa
  • Step-by-step guide to Ireland residency
  • Investment Program fees
  • Plus more!

What is the Ireland Golden Visa Program?

The Irish Golden Visa Program offers foreign investors and their family members the opportunity to obtain residency in Ireland, provided that a qualifying investment is made first.

Benefits are two-fold. The main applicant has immediate access to ‘golden benefits’ of living and doing business in Ireland, while the investment contributions themselves significantly boost the Irish economy. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation for both the investor and the Irish government. 

Why consider Ireland?

While there are many Golden Visas out there like the Golden Visa Portugal, Golden Visa Spain and Golden Visa Greece, Ireland is the only English-speaking country that offers unique investor visa advantages . Namely, as the fastest-growing European economy, and the sixth best performing economy globally, opportunities are ripe, with the country being highly open to foreign capital. Ireland also boasts a steady reputation for protecting investor funds, with a reputable international risk management country profile, so be assured knowing that your investment will be safeguarded against risk.

Benefits of the Irish Immigrant Investor Program:

  • Leading education institutions in the European Union like the University College Dublin
  • Diverse range of industries to invest in
  • Fantastic quality of life 
  • European hub for business and technology 
  • Visa free access to Europe’s Schengen Area
  • Irish residency in four months
  • Irish passport possible after six years
  • Live, work and study in Ireland with the investor visa
  • Family members qualify, including dependent children under 24

Ireland investor visa benefits for family members 

Your spouse, children under 18, and financially dependent children between the ages of 18-24 all count in your golden visa application, and your family members will have lifetime Ireland citizenship.

Ireland investment visa eligibility requirements

There are several eligibility requirements to take into account for the Ireland Immigrant Investor Program.

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a clean criminal record
  • Have a net worth of no less than €2 million
  • Ability to prove you have the necessary money to invest in
  • Spend one day in Ireland per year as a bare minimum
  • Prove that the money is independently sourced by yourself (no loans accepted, or for instance, your family members cannot provide a portion of the contribution)

Investor visa options to obtain the residence permit

Enterprise Investment
Enterprise Investment
Contribute a minimum investment of €1 million in an Irish enterprise or business
Investment Funds
Investment Funds
Make a minimum investment of €1 million in approved funds
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)
Make a minimum investment of €2 million in a real estate investment trust
Endowment
Endowment
Donate €500,000 to a charitable project in ireland

Enterprise Investment

Contribute a minimum investment of €1 million into a new or existing Irish enterprise or business. It can be a single enterprise, or multiple, provided that the minimum threshold is reached.  Moreover, the Irish enterprise or business you invest in must be headquartered in Ireland. 

Note that for the enterprise investment option, you have to submit a business plan with your Irish residence permit application. Applications are more likely accepted if the investment creates full time jobs for Irish people. Finally, the investment must be 100% completed by the applicant, not a corporation.

Investment Funds

Make a minimum investment of €1 million in an approved investment fund and hold it for a minimum of three years. The investment funds must be venture capital or private-equity based, and must be applicable to small and medium-sized businesses. The companies can’t be listed on the stock exchange. In addition, all funds must represent equity stakes in Irish registered companies.

Finally, the investor funds and fund managers must be regulated by the Irish Central Bank, and have at least €20 million under management, with a successful record. To give you an idea of a low-risk investment fund you can invest in, the Irish Diaspora Loan Fund is a Central Bank of Ireland approved-fund you could consider. The Irish Diaspora Loan Fund gives investors the chance to invest in Ireland, while supporting Irish job creation.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

Make a minimum investment of €2 million in Irish real estate investment trusts (REIT) for three to five years. REITs are basically listed companies that hold rental investment properties. They are internationally recognized for accepting investments in rental property assets.

Considered lower-risk than investing in funds, your money is more diversified, reducing the chance of falling into a negative equity risk trap. The Irish real estate investment trusts must be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange for three to five years. 

You can choose to invest the whole sum in a single Real Estate Investment Trust or split it between several trusts. After three years of holding your investment, you can divest up to 50% of your shares. After four years, you’re only required to maintain 25% of your initial investment. After five years, you can cash out, and still maintain your Irish residence permit.

Endowment

Donate €500,000 to a project that will benefit the good of Ireland. The project should benefit either the arts, sports, health, culture, or education institutions of Ireland. This is a non-refundable donation, but it is the cheapest investment route to residency. An interesting thing to flag is that five or more people can pool the money together, in which case, each investor can contribute €400,000.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE IRISH GOLDEN VISA

Additional requirements to take into account is that all the money you invest in must be held by you. A loan cannot be accepted as a source of funding. So, only your own money is counted toward the residency application. Besides this, the application process is relatively smooth and hassle-free.

Step-by-step guide to Ireland residency

1. Submit your application
2. Get approved
3. Invest and become a resident
4. Extend your residence permit
5. Irish naturalisation citizen eligibility

1.Submit your application

Choose your preferred investment route. Next, collect the necessary paperwork, perhaps with the help of an immigration service or attorney, pay the non-refundable application fee of €1,500 and submit your application. 

2.Get approved

Around three months from the time you submit your application, expect to hear a reply from the Irish government’s branch, the Evaluation Committee. Provided that all requirements are met and your personal profile fits the program criteria, your application should get approved.

3.Invest and become a resident

Once you have your pre-approval letter in your hands, it’s time to make your investment. You must do it within a 90-day time period, and submit proof you’ve made your investment. You and your family also must acquire an Affidavit of Good Character to show you have good moral standing, and to do this, you must travel to Ireland. Afterward, you will be granted residency, with a two-year residency known as ‘Stamp 4’. This allows you to work, study and live in Ireland without any issues. 

4.Extend your residence permit

To keep your residence, you must travel at least once a year to Ireland. After your first two years are up, extend your residence permit. The following permit is valid for three years, and it’s granted only if you can prove you’re not a financial burden in the country. It’s important that you still remain financially stable, and your moral character is still strong. While the Irish government isn’t fussed about whether your investment is deemed successful or a failure, you must maintain your investment.

5.Become a naturalized Irish citizen

After being a resident for five years, you are eligible to apply for Ireland citizenship, provided that you meet the government criteria. Specifically, you must prove that you’re physically resident in Ireland and are a tax resident in Ireland prior to lodging your Irish naturalisation citizenship application.

Investor Visa Application Processing Time

Irish Taxes

The Irish tax system is based on your residence status, and corporate tax is charged at a 12.5% rate currently. If you don’t plan on staying in Ireland during your golden visa term, you don’t need to register as a Irish tax resident. Regardless, you will be taxed on any income received in Ireland. This, of course, includes the income from your investments. If you wish to become a citizen, note that you must be a registered tax resident.

Can I get Ireland citizenship with the investor visa?

While the investment program is technically a golden visa scheme,  it’s perfectly possible to become a European Union citizen in five year’s time. To have an Irish passport in your hands, you must be physically resident in Ireland and a tax resident in Ireland before submitting your Ireland Golden Visa application.

Specifically, you have to be a resident in Ireland at least four of the five years you’ve held your golden visa, and can’t spend more than six weeks outside of Ireland.

Document Checklist for the Irish Golden Visa

The document checklist for the golden visa is quite extensive, and the requirements can be subject to change at the Irish government’s discretion. It is recommended to speak to a consultant from an immigration service that can assist you with the application.

General document requirements for the Ireland investor visa

  • Proof of net worth of a minimum of €2 million. The funds must be obtained legally, aand belong to you solely..
  • Explanation of your financial activities from the past year such as: income, including employment details, annual income, bonuses and commissions, and any gifts or inheritances you may have received.
  • Full details of any investments you made.
  • Your loans (bank, mortgage, etc.)
  • Proof you have the required funds for investment. You must also be able to prove you can transfer them to Ireland.
  • Proof of the source of your funds. You must be able to show how you acquired the funds you intend to use for the investment.
  • Sale deeds
  • Inheritance/gifts
  • Divorce settlement
  • Evidence of character. You must include a statement of character from the authorities from every country you have lived in for more than six months for the past ten years.
  • You must include the same type of statement of character for any of your children who are over 16 that you have included on the application.

Irish Citizenship By Investment documents

Irish Enterprise investment:

  • A comprehensive business plan of the Irish enterprise in which you are investing. The plan must show:
    • The financial investments you are making.
    • How your investment will help create or maintain jobs.
    • How much equity you are acquiring.
    • How you are planning on receiving your investment return.
    • Letter from a solicitor which confirms that you have transferred the funds in the Irish business/enterprise.
    • A letter from the business/enterprise which states how much you have invested.
    • A payment remittance and bank statement which proves you have transferred the funds.

Investment Fund:

Include a profile of the investment fund, which details:

  • The investment strategy
  • Documents proving the fund is approved by the Central Bank of Ireland
  • Funding source
  • Investment pool for the fund
  • A target return on investment
  • Employment projections of the investments under the fund.
  • Letter from a solicitor which confirms that you have transferred the funds in the Irish business/enterprise
  • A letter from the Fund Investment Manager confirming you have transferred the funds.
  • A copy of your subscription certificate

Real Estate Investment Trust:

  • Proof you have the required funds for the investment. You do not need to specify which REIT you are investing in to the Evaluation Committee.
  • Letter from a solicitor which confirms that you have invested €2 million in REIT.
  • A letter from the REIT company which confirms the sum you have invested.
  • Copy of your share certificate.

Endowment:

  • A Business Plan.
  • Proof of how your donation will be used and how it will benefit Ireland.
  • Letter from a solicitor which confirms that you have transferred the funds to the Irish registered charity.
  • A letter from the registered charity which confirms you have transferred the funds
  • A payment remittance and bank statements proving you have transferred the funds.
  • The solicitor who issues your letter must be cleared to work in Ireland.

Irish Citizenship By Investment Program Fees- You must pay a non-refundable processing fee of €1,500  to the Evaluation Committee, by electronic funds transfer and mail the receipt along. All additional costs are related to the specific investment route you choose. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Investor Visa

What is the Ireland Immigrant Investor Program?

 The Ireland Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Golden Visa or Irish Citizenship by Investment, is a residency initiative that grants applicants and their family members with Ireland residency, in exchange for a significant investment.

What are my options for the investor visa?

You have four investment routes to choose from to obtain residency in Ireland. Either invest in an enterprise, make an investment fund, make a charitable donation known as endowment, or invest in an REIT.

Do I have to visit Ireland to keep my residency?

Yes, on average, you have to visit Ireland at least one day per year to keep your Ireland residency.

Can I apply for the residence permit myself?

Yes you can, but it’s recommended to look into an immigration service that can assist you with your application, considering the documentation requirements are so extensive and complex.

What is the Evaluation Committee?

The Evaluation Committee is the body that assesses Ireland investor visa applications. It’ll decide whether your investor visa application satisfies the program criteria, and effectively grants you the golden visa.

Can I become an Irish citizen with the Golden Visa?

You definitely can become a citizen, via the Irish naturalisation and immigration journey. What this means is, after five years of holding your residency, you are granted citizenship with the Irish naturalisation and immigration scheme.

What is the most popular investment route to the golden visa?

By far, the enterprise investment option is the most favorable way to secure the investor visa Ireland, considering you’re investing in an enterprise or company, with the potential for optimal investment returns.

How long until my Ireland investor visa application is approved?

Provided that everything goes smoothly, your Ireland investor visa application takes usually around four months to get approved.

Can my family qualify for the residency permit?

Absolutely, your spouse, children under 18, and dependent children under 24 all qualify for the residency permit.