EuropeIntel & Data

Irish Govt Admits Clearing Golden Visa Backlog Will Take “Years”

By the time Ireland’s Immigration Investor Program closed following pressure from the EU in February last year, it had accumulated a backlog of pending applications amounting to 3,127 files. During a meeting in the Oireachtas’ Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Justice Department Secretary General Oonagh McPhillips revealed the program had only approved 251 of these last year, according to the Irish Times.

The Secretary General’s updated figures indicate the backlog has barely budged since last year. The number of applications received exceeds the number of approvals by 2,925. Presuming an average rejection rate of about 10% (typical for the last few years), the backlog of unprocessed files amounts to some 2,700. Previous estimates by IMI peg the value of investments represented in the backlog at more than EUR 2 billion.

Pointing out that the time it takes to process a particular application varied widely, McPhillips told the committee that "some of them are in a state that can be decided and have been decided, and then others we are going to need a lot more information.”

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While she pointed out that the independent committee in charge of assessing the applications was considering ways to "expedite what's on hand," she also admitted it would take a long time before the department was able to clear the backlog:

"It will be quite some time, I’d imagine years, before we work our way through that,” confirmed McPhillips.

Since 2017, the committee has approved, on average, 266 applications per year. Considering the 2,700-odd files now pending, in the absence of a sharp rise in departmental productivity, it would take until 2034 before the department can clear the backlog. Presumably, many disgruntled applicants will withdraw or liquidate their investments well before that time.

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