Ireland has issued a clarification to state that borrowed money cannot be used in the Irish Immigrant Investor Program.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) says loans do not qualify as an appropriate source of funding and that such applicants stand to have their Irish permanent residence revoked.
However, the IIP has attracted controversy after some investment immigrants were found to have used borrowed money to obtain Irish permanent residence.
In the absence of an express bar on use of debt funding, applicants believed they were within their rights to take out loans to cover the investment requirement.
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The impact of the DoJ clarification is likely to hit Chinese investors the hardest because demand for the IIP is dominated by applicants from China.
Since its introduction, Ireland has garnered more than €500 million investment through the program, and demand is likely to remain strong despite this controversy.
Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Program has historically stood apart from criticism aimed at other investment immigration programs such as lax due diligence or excessively-low minimum investment requirements.
In a bid to deter demand and retain the program’s exclusivity, Ireland recently doubled its investment requirement from €500,000 to €1 million at a time when the likes of Greece and Portugal are offering EU permanent residence for as low as €250,000 and €350,000 respectively.
To qualify under the IIP, all applicants must have a minimum net worth of €2 million. Such eligible investors must fulfill one of the following investment requirements:
- Minimum €1 million investment for at least three years in one or more Irish enterprises registered and headquartered in Ireland.
- Minimum €1 million investment in an Approved Investment Fund
- Minimum €2 million investment for at least three years in an Irish Real Estate Investment Trust listed on the Irish Stock Exchange
- Minimum €500,000 endowment in an arts, sports, health, cultural, or education project of public benefit. In case of a combined project by a group of five or more investors, the minimum investment shall be €400,000
Future Impact of DoJ Clarification
While the ‘no debt funding’ rule can easily be implemented for future applications, it remains to be seen how this clarification will impact those who have already qualified under the program.
As the DoJ has only sought to clarify a legal gray area, those who have relied on debt funding may find themselves guilty of violating the IIP rules without intending to do so.
This could result in revocation of permanent residence, or investors may be permitted to rectify their error.
Further, the clarification puts a spotlight on the need for stronger and more effective vetting and due diligence of investment immigration applications.
This particular issue became public because applicants, presuming they were entitled to do so, voluntarily disclosed the use of debt funding.
Now the due diligence process must involve a more stringent review of source of funds to ensure applicants relying on debt funding don’t end up qualifying for Irish permanent residence.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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