Friday, January 5, 2018
In January 2018, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) published new Guidelines for the Immigrant Investor Programme (the “IIP”). By way of brief summary, the IIP is a programme established in 2012 by the Irish government to facilitate non-EEA nationals and their families who commit to an approved investment in Ireland to acquire a secure residency status in Ireland. See our discussion of the IIP here.
The new Guidelines do not make many substantives changes to the IIP application; rather it appears that its aim is simply to make the application process more user-friendly and to clarify a number of points about the criteria and entitlements under the Programme.
Removal of Immigrant Investment Bonds and Mixed Investments options
Under the previous Guidelines, dated December 2016, there were six categories of eligible investments, two of which had subsequently been suspended – namely the Immigrant Investor Bond and the Mixed Investments. Under the new Guidelines, there is simply no mention at all of these two suspended categories, suggesting that they have been permanently removed as available categories of investment and will now not be available to investors. This leaves just the following 4 categories of investment:
The Immigrant Investor Bond option, which has now been abolished, allowed the applicant to invest a minimum of €1 million in the bond issued by Ireland (acting through the National Treasury Management Agency) and was a Government guaranteed investment. This was a very safe option for investors and was particular helpful to investors looking for an easy and risk neutral investment option or those who were unsure of the Irish investment market.
The second option which has also been abolished, the Mixed Investment option, allowed the investment to comprise of a purchase of a Residential Property in Ireland with a minimum value of €450,000 combined with a €500,000 investment in the Immigrant Investor Bond, as set out above. Similar to the Immigrant Investor Bond option, this was a particularly attractive option for investors who wished to take up residence in Ireland and who also wanted a low risk investment opportunity.
It is disappointing to see both of these investment options abolished as they provided attractive and low risk options for potential investors.
Investments involving property
In terms of the other changes that the Guidelines introduce, some additional clarity is now available in Appendix 1 on the property investments which will and will not be eligible for the IIP. The guidelines reiterate that the primary goal of the IIP is job creation in Ireland and therefore stimulation of the property market alone will not be enough to fulfil the criteria of the IIP.
The Guidance now clearly states that the IIP does not have an option for office, commercial, industrial or residential property development or purchase. Further to this, Appendix 1 details potential enterprise investments which may be capable of qualifying for the IIP which have a property component. The Guidelines expands on the existing options for property-related investment. These now include:
Clarity on the application process
The Guidelines aims to answer some practical/procedural questions for applicants. For example, the Guidelines now note the following:
A very useful checklist of additional supporting documentation that may be required for this process is contained in the Guidelines. Before finally submitting the application, all applicants should review this checklist to ensure that all necessary documents are included in the application.
2018 application windows
Those wishing to apply for either the IIP (or its sister Programme, STEP) should be aware that applications for the IIP and the STEP Programmes will only be accepted during the following time periods:
The Evaluation Committee meet after each round of applications to assess the applications and decisions are usually issued approximately 4 months after they are lodged with INIS.
Focus on the objectives: job creation and economic development in Ireland
When preparing an application for the IIP it is useful to bear in mind the principle objectives of the programme: job creation and economic development in Ireland. Business plans submitted in support of any IIP application should include as much detail as possible about the job creation ambitions of the business and illustrate concrete plans about how to achieve this. It is now expressly stated in the Guidelines that a Business Plan required to be submitted under the Enterprise Investment category must also include details of how the investment in question will be used in the development of the business of the growth of jobs in Ireland. It is clear from this that the INIS wish to be made aware of the concrete plans of exactly how the investment funds will be used to achieve the objective of the IIP.
For further information on the IIP, please feel free to get in touch with any member of our immigration group.