Irish Citizenship for Sale Again

The government of the Republic of Ireland is desperately trying to rebuild the country’s shattered national economy and bolster financial markets after one of the largest banking collapses in history.

Perhaps as a mark of that official desperation—or of politicians’ universal urge to “do something” in a crisis—the Irish government is offering special residence visas to foreign individuals willing to invest in the country.

This new program began on April 15, 2012, and if you make the investment, it can lead to full citizenship. Irish citizenship opens the door to full personal and commercial access to all 27 countries in the European Union.

Ireland’s aim is to attract both money and wealthy individuals from outside the EU who want to take advantage of new and existing investor schemes to immigrate to Ireland.

In a sense, history is repeating itself. For about 10 years until the mid-1990s, Ireland offered an economic citizenship program that was highly popular, at least among very wealthy people. For a five-year, unsecured investment of $1.7 million, instant citizenship was granted within 90 days.

There were few restrictions. These included buying a home in Ireland and residing in Ireland at least 60 days during the first two years after citizenship was granted—hardly a burden.

The virtue of an Irish passport, then and now, is unfettered access to all EU countries, plus visa-free travel to over 150 countries, including the entire British Commonwealth.

Under the 1990s program, the Irish Minister for Justice was given discretion to grant certificates of naturalization. About 20 applicants were approved each year, but amid allegations of political favoritism, bribes, and corruption, the program was eventually repealed.

Under the new 2012 programs potential Irish investor immigrants have several choices, including a one-time payment to the arts…or an investment in a low-interest bond…or a venture-capital fund…property investment and government securities. The minimums amounts range from 500,000 euro to 2 million euro ($627,000 to $2.5 million).

There is also a separate residence visa program for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start an innovative business valued at a minimum of 75,000 euro ($94,000).

Editor’s note: In the current issue of IL magazine, Bob’s full article goes into more detail about the new citizenship options in Ireland, and we list the ways you can use Irish ancestry to claim an Irish passport.

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