Ireland scraps ‘golden visas’ to keep out Chinese
Ireland is shutting down its Immigrant Investor Program (IIP), which offers visas to non-EU nationals in return for investment in the republic, the Irish Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.
According to the statement, applications for what is widely referred to as “golden visas” will no longer be accepted by Dublin starting on Wednesday.
Established in 2012, the IIP offered Irish residence to non-EU nationals with a personal wealth of at least €2 million ($2.1 million) if they invested a minimum of €1 million in Ireland for at least three years. The program has approved about €1.25 billion in investment since its inception, according to government data.
The program was dominated by wealthy applicants from China, who accounted for some 1,458 of the 1,547 applications approved through June last year. According to the Irish Times, this fact led to justice department officials recommending that new applications be temporarily halted.
“It is important that we keep all programs under review including any implications for wider public policy, such as the continuing appropriateness and suitability of this program for cultural, social and economic use,” Justice Minister Simon Harris said, announcing the move.
He noted, however, that applications that were submitted prior to February 15 will continue to be considered. There are roughly 1,500 applicants currently awaiting a decision. Projects that have already been approved under the program will also be unaffected.
So-called “golden visas” are used by countries worldwide to attract foreign investment. However, some see the practice as posing risks in terms of security, money laundering and tax evasion. Dublin’s decision to end its program comes a year after the UK canceled its own similar plan, citing national security concerns and the program’s increasing popularity among Russian nationals.
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