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Immigrant investor schemes could herald a ‘new era’

Last update - Thursday, March 1, 2012, 15:07 By Catherine Reilly

A solicitor has praised the Government for hastening a “new era” in its approach to immigration through two new investment and entrepreneur schemes that will grant participants renewable residency periods.

According to Winifred Adenike Akerele of Rehoboth Solicitors in Dublin, the move marks a change of focus “from the area of asylum to the area of investment for the purposes of residency”.
She said that since the announcement of the schemes on 24 January, she had received “over 100 queries” from potential participants in Africa and Asia requesting further information.
“It will bring a lot to the economy if it works out,” she said.
Akerele commented that some potential wealthy investors and entrepreneurs see it has an opportunity to have their children educated in Ireland, most likely in private schools, and noted a tradition of Nigerian professional elites attending Trinity College Dublin since colonial times.
However, the Nigerian-born solicitor warned that verbal abuse of immigrants on Ireland’s streets is an issue the Government needs to tackle if the schemes are to flourish.
“We should sensitise our people to make sure [participants] are welcomed,” she said.
The first scheme, known as the Immigrant Investor Programme, will allow participants and their immediate family members to enter the State on multi-entry visas and to remain for a defined period if the participant makes substantial investments here.
Investment options include a once-off endowment of a minimum of €400k to a public project benefiting the arts, sports, health or education; a minimum €2m investment in a low-interest immigrant investor bond; a minimum €1m venture capital funding into an Irish business for a minimum of three years (an investment into an Irish publicly quoted company could be considered but the investment level would have to be much higher); and a minimum €1m evenly mixed investment in property and Government securities (special consideration could be given to those purchasing property in the State enforced by Nama; In such cases a single €1m investment in property might be sufficient).
The second of the schemes, the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, provides that immigrants with a good business idea in the “innovation economy” and funding of €70k can be given residency for the purposes of developing their business (this compares with a previous minimum funding requirement of €300k). According to the Department of Justice, no initial job creation targets will be set as “it is recognised that such businesses can take some time to get off the ground”.
The new schemes are due to be launched by mid March with detailed rules governing the programmes. It is understood that the programmes will not offer any special access to Irish citizenship, but it is possible that successful applicants will in due course accumulate the five-year residency period required to make a citizenship application.

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