Two immigrant investor programmes launched by the Irish government last year have so far seen just 23 visas granted through them, new figures show.
Launched last April, the Immigrant Investor programme allows applicants to remain in Ireland for a period of five years (renewable after two) providing they make a significant investment in either a specially created low interest Government Bond, capital investment in an Irish business, or in some cases the purchase of property. The level of this expected investment generally ranges from between 500,000 euros for endowment-related investments to 2 million euros in the new Immigrant Investor low-interest bearing Government Bond.
Also launched in April 2012, the Start-up Entrepreneur category offers a permanent residence visa to foreign business people who have good business ideas in the innovation economy and funding of at least 70,000 euros.
However, to date just nine people have been approved through the Immigrant Investor programme and just 14 through the Start-up Entrepreneur category.
Yet the government is keeping a brave face on the disappointing figures. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Equality said that “no predictions were made on the level of interest” in the Immigrant Investor programme and Start-up Entrepreneur schemes when they were launched.
“This is new territory for Ireland, and it was not possible to predict the level of demand at that time,” said the spokeswoman. “Investment decisions are not made overnight, and all the more so when people are looking at making an investment in a country not well-known to them.”