As became clear with the Irish Ministry of Justice’s March release of a raft of data on the Irish IIP’s performance in recent years, the program’s total investment is likely to surpass one billion this year. Last week, the Irish Times reported that the program had already raised more than a billion, although that claim is a contradiction of the same newspaper’s reports earlier this year, which indicated the program had reached a total FDI of some EUR 863 million by the end of 2020.
Both articles cite figures from the Ministry of Justice (the same figures used by IMI in our Data Center), which clearly show the total amount raised by the Irish IIP at the end of last year stood at EUR 862.6 million.
In any case, Ireland is likely to reach a billion euros of total investment this year. The reaching of that milestone will place the Irish golden visa in very exclusive company. It will join the ranks of European golden visas that have raised more than a billion euros worth of investment, a club that until this year had only five members;
- the UK Tier 1 investor visa;
- the Latvia golden visa;
- the Portugal golden visa;
- the Spain golden visa;
- and the Greece golden visa
The UK's Tier 1 Investor Visa, instated in its modern form in 2008, was the first to reach a landmark billion euro (about GBP 860 million) investment total, in 2012. The true total is likely considerably higher because a some investors opt for accelerated routes to Indefinite Leave to Remain, which mandates considerably higher investments. For the purposes of this calculation, however, we have assumed that all applicants make only the minimum required investment.
The next golden visa programs to reach ten figures were those of Portugal and Latvia, both in 2014. While Portugal has been able to maintain a more or less constant momentum since then (its golden visa program is on track to raise its 6th billion this year), 2014 would later turn out to be the Latvian program's heyday; of the roughly EUR 1.5 billion the program has raised since opening in 2010, only EUR 97 million stem from the post-2016 years. In the absence of a drastic change in circumstances, Latvia's golden visa is unlikely to raise a second billion in this decade.
It took Spain's golden visa three and half years of existence before crossing the billion-euro mark, which it did in 2016. It followed up by raising a second billion two years later, a third in 2019, and a fourth last year.
The Greek golden visa, meanwhile, took a full six years of operations to make its first billion. Once it had gathered steam, however, the next billion already the year after. Were it not for its slow adaptation to a pandemic world, it would have raised its third billion in 2020.
The first billion is the hardest
Whether a case of a rising tide lifting all boats or of lessons gleaned from the early years, most programs found it considerably easier to raise the second billion than the first:
- The Greek golden visa took six years to reach the first billion and only one year to reach the next.
- Spain's GV existed for nearly four years before raising a billion but reached the second just one year later.
- Portugal spent two years reaching both billion number one and number two, but that slowdown is attributable to the temporary suspension of the program in 2015.
- It took the UK's Tier 1 investor visa four years to reach a billion, and only one more year to reach the second.
- Latvia's program raised a billion in its first five years, and very little since.
- The Irish IIP has been building momentum for nine long years and is set to reach a billion this year. At the current clip, however, it should raise another in less than half that time.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.