Are Ireland Planning A Citizenship By Investment Program?
Thanks to Brexit, the Irish Passport has suddenly become the most sought after in Europe, and it now looks like Ireland are considering capitalizing on their new-found popularity by following the example set by EU nations like Austria, Belgium and Malta and introducing a Citizenship by Investment program.
The reason for this sudden surge in popularity is purely down to non-Brexit supporting Brits with Irish heritage. On June 23, 2016 when the leave campaigners triumphed and Britain announced that after 46 years it was breaking its ties with the European Union, those Brits fortunate enough to have an Irish parent or grandparent suddenly realized that they were perfectly within their rights to apply for and receive Irish citizenship. What this means is that regardless of what the UK does or does not do regarding Brexit, the Anglo-Irish will still be eligible for dual citizenship, and thanks to Ireland’s European Union membership, they can remain EU passport holders.
Pre and Post Brexit Demand for Irish Passports by UK Citizens
Long before the June 23 referendum there had been an unprecedented increase in demand for Irish passports by forward-thinking UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish citizens that had Irish heritage and feared the worst. The Irish Passport Office was forced to take on an extra 200 members of office staff to cope with the increase in demand. Â The Republic of Ireland has been an EU member state since 1973, and took the Euro as their currency in 1999 when they became part of the Eurozone.
Since the referendum, the demand for Irish citizenship has escalated even further, with a 73% increase since the Brexit decision was announced. While neither the UK nor Irish government have released official figures, the number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, and the figure is likely to increase even further over the next two years as the deadline for the Activation of Article 50 and the official start of Brexit draws nearer.
Irish Passport vs UK Passport
It’s not hard to see why UK citizens would be keen to capitalize on any Irish blood in return for a second passport; if Brexit does indeed go through, the worst case scenario would be that the UK passport currently the joint-third strongest in the world (a passport’s strength is measured by the amount of countries it can enter visa-free) would lose much of its power. The UK passport currently allows its holder access to 175 countries visa-free, a figure only bettered by the passports of Sweden (176 countries) and Germany (177).
If the EU decides to play hardball with the UK, they are well within their rights to demand that British passport holders must provide visas when entering their countries. The subtraction of those 27 EU nations would leave the UK passport with access to 148 countries, less than any European Union nation. More importantly, the tens of millions of UK citizens looking to holiday in Spain, France, Italy, Greece or anywhere in the EU would have to undergo the time-consuming and tedious process of applying for a visa, which looms as a logistical nightmare for the British government.
By comparison, an Irish passport would look mighty appealing. Here are just some of the benefits successful UK applicants would enjoy:
- Ownership of the Sixth Most Powerful Passport In The World – An Irish passport has visa-free access to 172 countries globally, and guarantees its holder unlimited access to Europe’s Schengen Zone, North and South America, Australasia, Southern Africa, and South East Asia.
- Dual Citizenship Neither the UK or Irish governments impose restrictions on dual citizenship, which means successful UK applicants get the right to hang on to their British passport if they want to.
- You Can Call Yourself Irish Let’s face it, when it comes to courting favor with the citizens of foreign nations, everyone loves the Irish, the British – not so much! For a variety of reasons when Brits travel abroad they have a tendency not to cover themselves in glory. It could be the lack of linguistic skills, the tendency toward rowdiness, the association with hooliganism, the link with colonialism or a perceived level of arrogance, for whatever the reason, not everyone takes to UK tourists straight away. That’s not the case with the Irish, who seem to be just as popular in the US, Australia, Russia and China as they are throughout Europe! Now, with your new Eire passport, you get to legitimately call yourself Irish, which technically you are!
Citizenship by Investment
Some EU nations have copied the business model that was first established by St Kitts and Nevis in 1984 and has remained popular in the Caribbean ever since Citizenship by Investment (CBI). Citizenship by Investment is a legitimate business arrangement in which an investor can literally gain the citizenship and passport of a country by making a specific investment into that country, normally via the purchase of real estate.
In the Caribbean, CBI is popular among wealthy foreign business people looking to take full advantage of their legendary discreet banking services and tax shelters, all set against a backdrop featuring some of the most breathtaking scenery on God’s green earth.
While Caribbean citizenship is coveted for investment purposes, an EU passport is sought after because of the freedom of movement it guarantees its owner. With an EU passport an individual is free to live and work indefinitely in any of the 28 nations that make up the European Union. It’s little wonder that the prime candidates for European CBI programs are high net-worth individuals from the Middle East, Asia and Africa areas of the world synonymous with restriction of travel.
EU nations with CBI programs include Germany, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary and Malta.
Will An Irish Citizenship By Investment Program Be Available Soon?
Currently, the only way to get Irish citizenship is by blood (an Irish parent of grandparent), by marriage or after five years of permanent residency. The ill-fated Irish Investor and Entrepreneur Schemes a program which asked for major investment from applicants but guaranteed little in terms of residential stability was terminated in July 2016.
Was this to make way for a full scale Irish Citizenship by Investment program? All the signs look promising that that is indeed the case.
If the UK government elects to persevere with Brexit and finds itself shunned by the EU because of that, it will need to seek out new business partners from around the globe, and will also have to provide an enticing environment for foreign investors. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by reducing the rate of corporate tax, which currently stands at 20%. Experts have speculated that the plan would be to lower it initially to 12.5% – on a par with that of Ireland then to 6.25%, and then possibly to zero. Needless to say, this would be disastrous for Ireland, who has seen their economy rise rapidly since they were bailed out by the EU in 2010, largely down to their favorable corporate tax rates which have attracted large numbers of foreign investors.
The Maltese Connection
One of the ways that Ireland could continue to earn money and attract even more foreign investors is by initiating their own Citizenship by Investment program. Â Malta is one of the smallest nations in the EU, but they have proved just how lucrative CBI can be, especially for a small nation. Reportedly Malta earned more income in one year from Citizenship by Investment than they would receive from ten years’ worth of EU subsidies.
A source within the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade revealed in a confidential interview with 2ndPassports.com that Ireland are considering a Citizenship by Investment program based on the Malta model.
The Maltese government requires investors to make a 650,000 donation to Malta’s National Development and Social Fund (NDSF) as well as purchase real estate worth 350,000 and retain ownership of purchased property for a minimum of five years. With fees and costs the total outlay is around 1.2 million. Residency is given after 3-4 months, with full Maltese citizenship granted after 12 months.
An interesting caveat our source revealed was that UK applicants may have a separate deal, in which they would only have to make donation to the Irish economy of 100,000 to be eligible for Irish citizenship. The thinking behind this is that applicants from the UK would not be looking to live and work or invest in Ireland, but would benefit from ownership of an EU passport.
One thing is for certain the massive demand for Irish citizenship brought about by Brexit has spiked interest within the Irish government on how to capitalize on what is becoming an increasingly global demand for EU passports going forward. Expect an announcement within the coming months, with full Irish CBI available as early as 2017.
If you are interested in the possibility of Irish citizenship, acquiring a Maltese passport, or are curious about any of the excellent CBI programs available in Europe and the Caribbean, log onto 2ndPassports.com for more information. There you will find all of our contact details. You can email us or contact us by WhatsApp or Telegram. If you prefer, you can phone or Skype and speak directly to one of our expert representatives all in the strictest confidence.
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