Immigration system open for business with surge in visas issued
Ireland's immigration system has become increasingly business friendly as the number of visas issued for business purposes rose 15pc in four years, a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has claimed.
The number of business-related visas granted by the State has increased to 15,400 last year, according to the study.
India accounted for the majority, followed by China and Russia.
The think-tank said the number of non-European business people looking to come to Ireland is likely to be considerably higher, as nationals of a number of countries, such as the United States, don't need visas to travel here.
Report author Egle Gusciute said despite attempts by the Government to boost business migration, high costs when they get here may act as a deterrent.
"While older schemes focused on preventing misuse of business migration channels, the Department of Justice and Equality noted that this has not been a major problem in Ireland," Ms Gusciute said.
"There are now more options available to non-EU migrants wishing to set-up a business or to invest in Ireland.
"While the new measures seem to be working in terms of facilitating business people, high living costs and lack of accommodation may deter some entrepreneurs and investors."
There are relatively few foreign-owned businesses in Ireland, accounting for just 2pc of the overall share of enterprises.
However, the ESRI report points out that these businesses are generally large in terms of employment and in terms of higher value export activity.
The ESRI report found that business-related visas represented the second largest category of visas granted last year, accounting for 17pc of all visas granted.
The think-tank claimed that older, more rigid immigrations schemes are being replaced with new programmes, introduced to attract migrant investors and entrepreneurs.
Under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP),with a minimum investment varying between €500,000 and €2m, 55 permissions were granted since 2012.
Under the Star-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP), which targets high-potential startups, 30 permissions were granted in the same period.
However, the numbers allowed entry under the Business Permissions scheme is declining.
The scheme allows non-EEA nationals coming to Ireland to establish business in sectors such as retail, personal services or catering. The number of business permissions is low and has declined to just 10 new permissions issued in 2014.
The ESRI said that during the course of its research, both Ibec and the American Chamber of Commerce cited high living costs and a lack of privately rented accommodation as barriers to attracting business people to Ireland.
"Administrative barriers, for example difficulties in fast-tracking or obtaining spousal visas, may also deter business migration," the research report said.
"However, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation noted that under the recently launched Trusted Partner Initiative, employers granted Trusted Partner status will benefit from fast-tracking of employment permit applications.," the report added.