Golden Visa Ireland for Entrepreneurs

Irish “golden visa” scheme officially known as Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) were approved by the Irish Government in 2012.  The irish investor programme has become very popular post Brexit. Ireland is a EU member country since 1973.  Ireland is not a schengen member state. STEP is a cheapest route to irish residency.

1. Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

The STEP was established to stimulate productive investment in the State and to offer residency in the State with its associated advantages to dynamic business professionals, and their immediate family members, who have a proven record of success.

The STEP was devised to facilitate the relocation of international Entrepreneurs who have a business that would potentially fit the Enterprise Ireland (E.I.) HPSU eligibility criteria. STEP applicants are expected to be the main founders or decision makers in the business, i.e. CEO, CFO, CTO, CIO and usually comprising two to three founder members of that Company.

STEP applications should clearly indicate that the applicant has the minimum funds required i.e. €50,000, for the first founder and €30,000 for any subsequent founder and include a detailed and robust business plan.

Where a business has become established in Ireland and has a requirement for additional staff, regardless of level, the employer is obliged in the first instance to recruit employees who already have permission to work in Ireland: Irish citizens, EU citizens, or non-EU citizens with an immigration status in Ireland that permits them to access the labour market. If this is not possible, a business may seek to employ an individual outside of these categories through the employment permit scheme operated by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The STEP programme is not an investment vehicle and is not available to an applicant to buy a position in an Enterprise. Any application that provides for this would not be considered as meeting the criteria of the STEP programme.

2. Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is open to non-EEA nationals who commit to an approved investment in Ireland. The benefit to the applicant is that they, as well as their immediate family members (spouse and children), will be granted rights of residence in the State which will allow them to enter the State and to remain here for an initial period of 2 years and renewed for 3 years subject to certain criteria being met (i.e. the investment has not been withdrawn, they continue to be law abiding and self-sufficient).

All applicants for the Immigrant Investor Programme must demonstrate that they have a legally acquired minimum net worth of €2 million.

The Immigrant Investor Programme requires a minimum investment of €1,000,000 which must be committed for a minimum of three years. Applicants for this Programme are expected to show a robust business plan and a proven net worth of at least €2,000,000 per investor.

The type of projects that have been approved under the IIP include social housing, care homes and enterprise, some of the latter being E.I. clients, however; decisions on the merits of each application are ultimately at the discretion of the Evaluation Committee.

 Approved participants in the Programme and their immediate family members will be granted rights of residence in Ireland which will allow them to enter the State on multi-entry visas and to remain here for a defined period but with the possibility of ongoing renewal. The Programme will facilitate participants, over time, in establishing a permanent relationship with Ireland.

Each application will be examined on its merits in a qualitative examination by an independent interdepartmental committee. The investment has to be good for Ireland, good for jobs and in the public interest, the funds invested have to be legally acquired and owned by the investor (i.e. not borrowed). The person has to be of good character.

The Immigrant Investor Programme recognises that investors who benefit from the programme may have substantial business and financial interests outside of Ireland. Therefore, actual physical residence in Ireland is not a condition for renewal of residency permission under the Immigrant Investor Programme.

The programme simply requires investors and their family members to visit Ireland at least once per calendar year

In order to be considered for the programme the investor must propose an investment in one or more of the following categories:

Option Investment Terms
Immigrant Investor Bond €1.0 million invested in the bond at 0% interest rate – currently suspended
Enterprise investment €1.0 million invested in an Irish Enterprise for 3 years
Investment Funds €1.0 million invested in an approved fund.
Real Estate Investment Trusts A minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The €2 million investment may be spread across a number of different Irish REITs.
Mixed investment Investment in a residential property of minimum value of €450,000 and an investment of €500,000 into the immigrant investor bond, giving a minimum investment of €950,000. The level of investment into the bond would no longer be linked to the value of the property purchased.
Currently suspended
Endowment €500,000 philanthropic donation by an individual (€400,000 where 5 or more individuals pool their endowment for one appropriate project).

Residence Permission granted to successful applicants: Successful applicants can expect to receive residence permission for 5 years.

An initial permission will be granted for two years and following a review at that point to ensure the investor is continuing to meet the conditions of the scheme (i.e. the investment has not been withdrawn, they continue to be law abiding and self sufficient), a further period of 3 years will be granted.

After this initial 5 years period, the investor will be free to apply for residence in 5 year tranches.

The investor is not required to establish actual residence in Ireland.

The Immigrant Investment Programme is about rights of residence that the investor may exercise as their business and family needs dictate. No minimum residence requirement is set other than the stipulation that the persons concerned should visit Ireland at least once per calendar year.


To facilitate the work of the Evaluation Committee, applications for the Immigrant Investor and Start Up Entrepreneur Programmes will be accepted during the following periods only:

  1. From 02 January 2017 – 27 January 2017
  2. From 20 March 2017 – 13 April 2017
  3. From 22 May 2017 – 16 June 2017
  4. From 14 August 2017 – 08 September 2017
  5. From 16 October 2017 – 10 November 2017

Naturalisation for Citizenship

The Immigrant Investor Programme does not provide for preferential access to naturalisation for successful applicants. Successful applicants are free to apply for naturalisation in the normal manner under the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1957-2004. This legislation requires applicants for Irish naturalisation to be physically resident in Ireland for the 12 months prior to application and to be physically resident in Ireland for four of the preceding eight years, i.e. 5 years.

Dual citizenship is recognised and Irish naturalisation can be applied for by participants under the programme, under the terms of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1957-2004.

IIP Refusals

Residency status under the Immigrant Investor Programme shall be withdrawn in the following circumstances

  •  If the acquisition of the status was fraudulent,
  •  In the event of the holder being the subject of a deportation order,
  •  In the event of the holder being convicted of a criminal offence.
  •  If the applicant fails to meet the conditions of the scheme as regards duration of the investment
  •  If the investor failed to disclose material information available to them at the time of the application, that would if known to the immigration authorities have made them ineligible for the programme on the grounds of character.


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