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New EMN Ireland report on Business Migration to Ireland

Date Published: 22-07-2015

This new report explores the measures in place to attract immigrant investors and entrepreneurs from non-EU countries to Ireland. Business Migration to Ireland, by Egle Gusciute, Emma Quinn and Alan Barrett, finds that the Irish immigration system has become increasingly business-friendly in recent years.

Data on business-related visas granted show that:

  • Business-related visas represented the second largest category of visas granted in 2014, accounting for 17% of almost 90,400 visas granted.
  • The number of business-related visas granted has increased by 15% since 2010 (from 13,365 in 2010 to just over 15,400 in 2014).
  • In 2014, India accounted for the majority of visas granted (30 per cent), followed by China (18 per cent) and Russia (13 per cent).
  • The total number of non-EEA business people coming to Ireland is likely to be much higher than these figures suggest. Nationals of states such as the US do not need a visa to travel to Ireland.

Older, more rigid immigration schemes are now supplemented with new programmes, introduced to attract migrant investors and entrepreneurs:

  • Under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP),with a minimum investment varying between €500,000 and €2 million, 55 permissions were granted since 2012.
  • Under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP), which targets high-potential start-ups, 30 permissions were granted in the same period.
  • Although low, take up of the IIP and the STEP is considered to be adequate by the Department of Justice and Equality, as the two programmes aim to attract high worth investments and high-potential start-ups.
  • The number of Business Permissions granted has decreased by 74% since 2012, from 38 to just 10 permissions in 2014. This remains the only scheme available to non-EU nationals proposing to start-up smaller “traditional” businesses.

Other measures have been introduced to increase flexibility in the system:

  • A new Atypical Working Scheme allows for a more flexible business migration route; with over 1,300 permissions issued in the first year, 2014, mainly to Japanese, US and Indian nationals.
  • New legislation has been introduced which provides the State with more clearly defined powers to adapt the system in response to changing economic conditions.
  • There is evidence of increased co-operation between the responsible departments on business migration.  

However certain country-specific challenges such as high living costs and a lack of privately rented accommodation are barriers in attracting business persons. A lack of awareness of the available schemes may also be a challenge.

For further information:

Download Business Migration to Ireland

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