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New investor visa waiver will cost less than €1m

NEW visa waivers will be available to foreign investors coming to Ireland for less than €1m -- and possibly as little as €200,000.

The immigrant investor and start-up entrepreneur visas, which Justice Minister Alan Shatter named as "a key priority for 2012", will be more affordable and flexible than the UK model, according to Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy. In Britain a foreign investor must have at least £1m (€1.2m) in their control to invest, of which £750,000 must be invested in unit trusts or private companies.

While the British investor visa is aimed at wealthy individuals, the Irish visa waiver is intended to be more accessible for entrepreneurs bringing start-up ventures here.

"It is likely to be more flexible and affordable than what is on offer now, and more open and flexible than what is available in the UK," Mr Murphy said. It may be possible for two investors to apply for an investor visa as one entity. "The new scheme will hopefully encourage more people to look to Ireland to start their companies, particularly in the tech sector," he said.

The investor visa will be a major revamp of the existing current Business Permission Scheme. At present €300,000 is required, which could be reduced to a €200,000 minimum under the new scheme.

"It's at the stage now where it's close to finalising and Minister Shatter should have a very good idea of what he wants to do," said the FG TD.

However, the Department of Justice declined to elaborate on specifics. "Discussions are at an advanced stage," a spokesman said. He stressed that there would be no return to the ubiquitous 'cash for passports' wheezes of the past.

"Any suggestion that this is a passports-for-sale scheme in another guise is vehemently and categorically denied by the Department," said the spokesman. "This is about residence and attracting in people who can in different ways contribute to the economy.

"Almost all of the English speaking advanced economies have offerings in the investor space and it is a case of Ireland competing for a share of the market. International best practice will be followed."

Sunday Indo Business