Investor and Entrepreneur Schemes

Notice to Applicants: Immigrant Investor (IIP) & Start Up Entrepreneur (STEP) Programmes

An Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) and a Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) were approved by the Government in 2012. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice and Equality administers the applications for both Programmes. A number of applications received from potential investors suggests that they may be confusing the two Programmes. The following, therefore, is intended to provide clarification of the differing criteria for each Programme.

1. Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

The STEP was established to stimulate productive investment in the State and to offer residency in the State with its associated advantages to dynamic business professionals, and their immediate family members, who have a proven record of success.

The STEP was devised to facilitate the relocation of international Entrepreneurs who have a business that would potentially fit the Enterprise Ireland (E.I.) HPSU eligibility criteria. STEP applicants are expected to be the main founders or decision makers in the business, i.e. CEO, CFO, CTO, CIO and usually comprising two to three founder members of that Company.

STEP applications should clearly indicate that the applicant has the minimum funds required i.e. €50k, for the first founder and €30k for any subsequent founder and include a detailed and robust business plan.

Where a business has become established in Ireland and has a requirement for additional staff, regardless of level, the employer is obliged in the first instance to recruit employees who already have permission to work in Ireland: Irish citizens, EU citizens, or non-EU citizens with an immigration status in Ireland that permits them to access the labour market. If this is not possible, a business may seek to employ an individual outside of these categories through the employment permit scheme operated by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The STEP programme is not an investment vehicle and is not available to an applicant to buy a position in an Enterprise. Any application that provides for this would not be considered as meeting the criteria of the STEP programme.

2. Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is open to non-EEA nationals who commit to an approved investment in Ireland. The benefit to the applicant is that they, as well as their immediate family members (spouse and children), will be granted rights of residence in the State which will allow them to enter the State and to remain here for an initial period of 2 years and renewed for 3 years subject to certain criteria being met (i.e. the investment has not been withdrawn, they continue to be law abiding and self-sufficient).

The Immigrant Investor Programme requires a minimum investment of €1m which must be committed for a minimum of three years. Applicants for this Programme are expected to show a robust business plan and a proven net worth of at least €2m per investor.

The type of projects that have been approved under the IIP include social housing, care homes and enterprise, some of the latter being E.I. clients, however; decisions on the merits of each application are ultimately at the discretion of the Evaluation Committee.

3. Consideration of IIP and STEP applications

Applications under both the IIP and the STEP are considered on their merits in a qualitative examination by an independent interdepartmental Evaluation Committee, established under the programme, comprising of appropriate officials from the IDA; Enterprise Ireland; Dept of Finance; Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade; Dept of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (which also provides the administrative assistance to the Committee) who have the required skills and experience to evaluate the applications.

The recommendations of the Evaluation Committee for IIP applications are forwarded to the Minister for Justice and Equality for final decision. The Decision of the Minister on applications is final and a rejection of an application for residence under the Immigrant Investor Programme shall not be subject to a review or appeal.

4. Submission of applications

To facilitate the work of the Evaluation Committee, applications for the Immigrant Investor and Start Up Entrepreneur Programmes will be accepted during the following periods only:

  1. From 02 January 2017 - 27 January 2017
  2. From 20 March 2017 - 13 April 2017
  3. From 22 May 2017 - 16 June 2017
  4. From 14 August 2017 - 08 September 2017
  5. From 16 October 2017 – 10 November 2017

Applications received outside of these periods will be returned without being processed. Applications with an incorrect fee, or where the minimum investment amount is not met will be returned without being processed.

Detailed information on the application process and application forms are provided in the links below. The application process as set out is fairly straight forward and therefore the assistance of agents is optional.

Finally, please note that lobbying/canvassing will disqualify applicants and the associated project.

Published 21 March 2017


A dedicated e-mail address for queries about the investor and entrepreneur schemes has been set up at

Further details on the application process is set out in the Guidelines attached below.

Immigrant Investor Programme

The Immigrant Investor Programme is open to non-EEA nationals and their families who commit to an approved investment in Ireland. Approved participants in the Programme and their immediate family members will be granted rights of residence in Ireland which will allow them to enter the State on multi-entry visas and to remain here for a defined period but with the possibility of ongoing renewal. The Programme will facilitate participants, over time, in establishing a permanent relationship with Ireland.

Each application will be examined on its merits in a qualitative examination by an independent interdepartmental committee. The investment has to be good for Ireland, good for jobs and in the public interest, the funds invested have to be legally acquired and owned by the investor (i.e. not borrowed). The person has to be of good character.

In order to be considered for the programme the investor must propose an investment in one or more of the following categories:


Investment Terms

Immigrant Investor Bond

€1.0 million invested in the bond at 0% interest rate - currently suspended

Enterprise investment

€1.0 million invested in an Irish Enterprise for 3 years

Investment Funds

€1.0 million invested in an approved fund. For further information please see links below.

Real Estate Investment Trusts

A minimum investment of €2 millionin any Irish REIT that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The €2 million investment may be spread across a number of different Irish REITs.

Mixed investment

Investment in a residential property of minimum value of €450,000 and an investment of €500,000 into the immigrant investor bond, giving a minimum investment of €950,000. The level of investment into the bond would no longer be linked to the value of the property purchased.
Currently suspended


€500,000 philanthropic donation by an individual (€400,000 where 5 or more individuals pool their endowment for one appropriate project).

Residence Permission granted to successful applicants: Successful applicants can expect to receive residence permission for 5 years. An initial permission will be granted for two years and following a review at that point to ensure the investor is continuing to meet the conditions of the scheme (i.e. the investment has not been withdrawn, they continue to be law abiding and self sufficient), a further period of 3 years will be granted. After this initial 5 years period, the investor will be free to apply for residence in 5 year tranches. The investor is not required to establish actual residence in Ireland. The Immigrant Investment Programme is about rights of residence that the investor may exercise as their business and family needs dictate. No minimum residence requirement is set other than the stipulation that the persons concerned should visit Ireland at least once per calendar year.

Anyone interested in this programme should read the Guidelines for the Immigrant Investor Programme which outlines the requirements of the programme and the application process. The guidelines remain valid except in respect of the changes in terms and conditions outlined above.

The Guidelines and Application Form are available at the bottom of this page.


Related Links / Forms :

Sample Business Plan Template

Application Form for Start-up Entrepreneur Programme

Application Form for Immigrant Investor Programme

Guidelines for Start-up Entreprenuer Programme

Guidelines for Immigrant Investor Programme

Immigrant Investor Programme - Guidelines for Funds

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