Debt-funded investor visas face crackdown

The Department of Justice says it will immediately revoke permissions under the State’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) if investors are found to have funded their applications with debt.

The IIP grants residency visas to those who invest a minimum of €1m into Government-approved schemes including bonds, endowments and enterprises. Applicants can also apply to invest via a Reit with a minimum €2m investment, which must be held for at least three years from the date of purchase.

Last month the Department of Justice (DoJ) was compelled to clarify that a loan provided to the applicant for the purpose of making an IIP application will not be considered an appropriate source of funding. The clarification arose after certain applicants revealed that their applications had been funded by debt – the investors believed that they were entitled to do so.

More than €500m has been invested via the IIP, which is dominated by Chinese nationals. In recent weeks the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has met 45 individuals and organisations to stress that applications cannot be funded by loans.

The INIS is separately reviewing the source of funds on applications where debt funding may not have been disclosed. Tomorrow the DoJ will publish the terms of reference of a two-part review of the controversial ‘cash-for-visa’ scheme.

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