The IIP is a key initiative by which the Irish government seeks to attract foreign direct investment into Ireland on the promise of secure and flexible residency status for the investor and his or her family. Applicants for the IIP must be “high net worth individuals” meaning they must have a personal wealth of at least €2 million.
The IIP is an attractive scheme for many investors as close family members will be granted immediate family reunification and will benefit from their own permission to work, study or establish a business in Ireland as they wish. The successful investor and his or her family will hold what we call ‘stamp 4’ status (which is a high-level immigration status short of citizenship) and will benefit from the added flexibility of being able to hold this status without having to actually reside in Ireland. This freedom to effectively come and go as they like, makes the IIP standout from all other immigration routes available to persons wishing to establish ties to Ireland.
In practice, in order for an application to be approved, the investment proposed should be beneficial for Ireland, should create new (or at least maintain) jobs and should be in the public interest. In our experience, the government expects the proposed investment to offer ‘added value’ for the country in recognition of the very beneficial immigration status available. It is important for potential applicants to demonstrate that they own the funds they plan to invest (the funds cannot be borrowed) and to prove that they are legally acquired.
To qualify for the IIP, a ‘high net worth’ individual must make an investment which falls into one of the following investment options:
- Enterprise Investment: This involves a minimum personal investment of €1 million in a new or existing Irish business (or businesses) for a period of at least 3 years. The new Irish business may be one established by the investor or may be an existing Irish based enterprise. In each case the business must be headquartered in Ireland.
- Investment Fund: This involves a minimum investment of €1 million in an approved investment fund for a period of at least 3 years. Such funds must be invested in an Irish registered company which is not quoted on any stock exchange. This option can be particularly attractive to investors who might be less familiar with the Irish investment and enterprise scene and would like to avail of the skills of an experienced investment manager who will handle their investment as part of a wider fund.
- Real Estate Investment Trusts: This involves a minimum investment of €2 million for a period of 3 – 5 years in any Irish Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). The REIT must be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and the €2 million investment may be spread across a number of different REITs.
- Endowment: This option involves a minimum endowment or philanthropic donation of €500,000 to a project which is of public benefit to the arts, sports, health, culture or education in Ireland.
A number of further alternative investment options for IIP have recently been suspended by the Irish authorities. It is important to keep abreast of up to date requirements for this scheme. In addition, with a significant recent surge in the number of IIP applications (up 500% since 2014), it is more important than ever that potential investors ensure their application and proposed investment is presented in a clear and convincing manner which meets all the requirements of the programme.