Thursday 18 July 2019

More than 200 foreign investor applications still awaiting decision

Island hoppers: Some investors have opted for Malta due to processing times at the Department of Justice. Photo: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Island hoppers: Some investors have opted for Malta due to processing times at the Department of Justice. Photo: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Department of Justice has insisted it is making progress in processing hundreds of applications under the Government's Immigrant Investor Programme that would generate more than €310m of investments in Ireland.

But more than 200 applications made last year are still awaiting a decision.

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The Irish Independent revealed last month that at least €318m of investments planned by wealthy foreigners in businesses and cultural activities in Ireland under the Government's programme were being stalled by lengthy application processing.

That has prompted some investors to opt for similar schemes in countries such as Portugal and Malta.

But the Department of Justice and Equality says that it is making headway in taking decisions on applications.

"All applications from 2018 have now been subject to detailed examination and decisions will continue to issue on a phased basis in the coming weeks," said a department spokesman.

Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers

The investment programme enables foreigners from outside the European Economic Area to secure residency in Ireland for an initial period of two years.

The residency can be extended up to 10 years if certain criteria are met, and successful applicants and their families don't have to actually live in Ireland, but must visit once a year.

To qualify, the applicants must apply to invest via the programme in one of four categories.

One option is to invest at least €1m across any number of Irish companies for a minimum of three years.

The businesses can be a startup established by the investor, or an existing business registered in Ireland. The investment must support the creation or maintenance of employment.

Alternatively, investors can opt to make a minimum investment of €1m in an approved investment fund; invest a minimum of €2m across real estate investment trusts listed on the Irish stock exchange; or provide a minimum philanthropic endowment of €500,000 to be used in a project to benefit the public in the arts, sport, health, cultural or educational fields.

The Department of Justice and Equality said that the average processing time for applications is four months. But by the beginning of May, 348 of the 422 applications received in 2018 were still being processed.

"Since May 1, 2019, 128 decision letters for Immigrant Investor Programme applications have issued," said a spokesman.

He added that of the 220 applications from 2018 that are still being processed half way through 2019, 63pc have been waiting between six and nine months for a decision, while 33pc have been waiting for between nine and 12 months.

Almost 10 of the applications have been waiting more than a year for a decision to be made.

Irish Independent

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