EuropePolicy Updates

Ireland Closes Immigrant Investor Program: EU Views on Golden Visas Part of the Decision

In a press release published just minutes ago, Ireland’s Justice Minister Simon Harris announces that, upon receiving approval from the government, he has decided to close the country’s Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) for further applications as of tomorrow.

“The Immigrant Investor Programme was established over a decade ago during a time of unprecedented economic difficulty to stimulate investment in Ireland that would be of strategic and public benefit to the State,” said the Justice Minister in his statement. “Since its inception, the Programme has brought significant investment to Ireland and has been operated by my Department to the highest professional standards. However, it is important that we keep all programmes under review, including any implications for wider public policy, such as the continuing appropriateness and suitability of this programme for cultural, social, and economic use.”

The Minister further hinted that the line officials in Brussels and Paris have taken on investment migration programs had played a role in his decision:

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“We have also taken on board a number of reports and findings from international bodies such as the EU Commission, Council of Europe, and OECD on similar investment programmes. Taking all of this into account, and informed by both internal and external reviews, I have recommended that it is now timely to close this Programme to new applications, and have received Government agreement to close it for further applications from close of business tomorrow, February 15th 2023.”

The press release highlighted that the closure would not affect existing projects or applications. It also pointed out that Ireland has a Startup Entrepreneur Program (STEP), which provides a route to residency in Ireland for innovative entrepreneurs, and that this program would continue.

Last week, we reported that Ireland in 2022 received five times more applications than during the preceding year. Just last year, the IIP became the sixth European golden visa to raise more than a billion euros. Overall, the program has raised some EUR 1.25 billion (and will raise hundreds of millions more by the time it processes applications already on hand), which have funded a number of social housing and retirement facility projects and hotel redevelopment, as well as supported the work of Ireland’s universities. The Minister did not specify, in concrete terms, why he believes it right to close this source of unencumbered revenue for Ireland.