How to obtain a visa, residency or even citizenship to Ireland through investment? In this article, we will take a look at one of the most popular routes: Ireland immigration by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
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Overview: Ireland Immigration by Real Estate Investment (REITs)
Under the Irish Immigration Investor Programme (IVP), non-EEA citizens plus their dependents who make an approved investment in the real estate sector in Ireland may obtain a renewable temporary residence permit. All that you need to do is to make a minimum investment of two million euros in any Irish Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) listed in the country’s stock exchange. This investment may be spread across a number of Irish REITs. Each application is carefully examined by an independent interdepartmental committee based on its merits. The committee may impose some limits, in its absolute discretion, on the number of REIT investments that qualify under the investor program. They do this to try and prevent any kind of perceived distortions of the REIT market in Ireland.
Now, once you make the investment, you must hold the property for a period of 3 years before you decide to sell it. During this period the number of investment shares approved for qualification under the investment program has to be retained, regardless of whether the value rises above the initial investment or not. After the 3 years, if the investor decides to withdraw the funds, he/she can divest no more than 50% of the shares bought for the program. And where you have divested shares during the third year, you will only divest no more than 25% of the shares bought during the fourth year, and in the fifth year, no requirements on share retention will apply.
Under this particular scheme, the property investor receives a residence permit for a period of 5 years; an initial permit for 2 years and if you decide to keep the investment, you will have another 3-year permit. Once this 5-year period lapse, you can renew your permit in 5-year tranches. And the good thing about this program is that you don’t have to remain in the country during this period, you can even visit the country once a year. After remaining in the country for 8 years, you are eligible for naturalisation. All you need to have is a continuous reckonable residence of 365 days right before the date of application for naturalisation, and also, during the eight years, you need to have a reckonable residence in Ireland for 4 years.
Conditions to be met by Irish immigrant investors for this residency option
The REITs that the property investor invests in must meet the following conditions:
- Must be listed with or have applied for listing with the ISE (Irish Stock Exchange)
- Must have fulfilled the requirement in section 705E of the taxes consolidation act, 1997
- In the residency application, the investor must give a clear indication of his or her intention to invest in REIT(s) but shouldn’t declare the REIT he or she chose to avoid disclosure of market-sensitive information.
- The REIT investment should wait until the conditional approval is granted before it is made. Those that are made before being approved will not be taken as an eligible investment under the IVP, and that means it won’t be accepted.
- Whether your application will be accepted, or not, will be subject to the recommendation given by the evaluation committee to the minister.
- To protect the Irish REIT market from distortions, the Evaluation Committee might impose certain limits on the investments.
- If the investment is approved, you will be required to hold it for 3 full years from the date of purchase. And regardless of whether the initial investment exceeds the mandatory 2 million euros, it must be held until this period lapse.
- After the expiration of the 3 years, the investor is only allowed to withdraw a maximum of 50% of the purchased shares in the REIT. And if the investor decides to divest his or her shares at the end of the third year, then at the end of the fourth year, he or she may divest shares with a maximum value of 25% of the purchased shares.
- After 5 years from the initial date of purchase, that’s when share retention restrictions cease to apply.
In a REIT investment, the investor is able to make low-risk investments in a more diversified pool of properties. With this investment, the applicant is not only able to obtain residency but also derive regular income from the annual distribution of profits generated from the investment.
Documents needed for obtaining an Ireland investor visa (“golden visa”)
- Proof of funding required for the REIT investment.
- Proof of purchase. Might be in the form of a share certificate or other acceptable documents. Remember that the investment, which coincides with the submission of proof of investment, should only be made after getting the approval from the Evaluation Committee and after the aforesaid approval has been endorsed by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
- When renewing the residence permit with 5 years validity, the investor must bring along the proof of holding and disposals over this period. Any violation of the mandatory property retention requirements will lead to a non-renewal or withdrawal of the permit.
The application procedure for the property investment program
- The first step will be to submit the Immigrant Investor Program completed application form along with all details with regards to the investment proposal and its supporting documents.
- Secondly, the investor has to wait for the investment proposal to be approved by the evaluation committee before moving ahead with the investment.
- This committee consists of senior officials from key government and state agencies. The committee meets four times a year, where it assesses and makes a determination on the investment proposals guided by the following factors:
- The investors’ profile
- The investment’s commercial feasibility
- The ability of the proposed investment to create jobs
- The overall benefit to the country
- After the assessment, the evaluation committee will then select the most suitable proposals and recommend them to the Ministry of Justice and Equality for acceptance.
- Once the proposal has been approved and accepted by the Minister, the investor is given the go-ahead to proceed with the execution of the investment. In addition, the investor is required to obtain medical insurance as well as an affidavit of good conduct for self and all the family members who are over 16 years of age.
- Once all the above are finalised, the investor and his or her nominated family members are granted the residence permit under the Stamp 4 conditions. With Stamp 4, the investor and the family members are not only allowed to live, but also to study, work, or even start a business in the country.
After being given the residence permit, the only condition that the investor has to meet is to ensure that if they are not residing in Ireland, they at least visit the country once a year. Lastly, provided that the documents required have been submitted when applying for the property investment program, the whole process will take around 3 to 4 months to be granted.