Ireland is the latest nation to appeal to foreign entrepreneurs to do business in the region, in a desperate bid to boost employment, following similar initiatives in the United States and Britain.
Two programs – the Immigrant Investor Program and the Start-up Entrepreneur Program – will be formally launched in March by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
The first program will require applicants to invest between 400,000 and two million euros, depending on the level and duration of financial commitment.
The second program aims to foster new enterprises, for which the applicant will have to have financial backing of no less than 70,000 euros.
Approved participants and their immediate family will be allowed to enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain there for two years. The visas will be renewable.
Applications for both programs will be considered by an evaluation committee, consisting of relevant state agencies and government departments.
“Their objective is to encourage entrepreneurs into Ireland; people with innovative schemes that will create jobs and have the possibility of expansion in the future,” Shatter told Irish radio program Morning Ireland.
“These are programs of a similar nature to programs that exist in a variety of other countries.”
Both the US and Britain have introduced programs designed to entice foreign entrepreneurs to relocate.
In March last year, US Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, along with Senator Mark Udall, reintroduced legislation designed to help immigrant entrepreneurs secure visas to the US.
The Startup Visa of 2011 would allow an immigrant entrepreneur to receive a two-year visa if he or she can show that a qualified US investor is willing to invest in their start-up venture.
Meanwhile, the UK government has launched Go UK, a business plan competition designed to boost investment in the region, open to Australian firms with an interest in expansion to the UK.
Successful applicants receive return airfares to London, where they have access to potential business partners, client contacts, business networks and services.
Shatter is confident his country’s programs will be successful.
“We believe that it can attract people into Ireland – who would not otherwise invest here – to the benefit of our overall economy, with great potential for job creation,” Shatter said.
“The distinct difference between the two schemes is that one scheme – the entrepreneur start-up scheme – would allow an individual… to establish residence in Ireland, initially for two years.”
“They would ultimately be allowed to stay here for up to five years… and they’d be entitled to bring their family with them.”
According to Shatter, the Immigrant Investor Program presents a “broad range” of possibilities.
“For example, an individual who is willing to invest a minimum of two million euros in a low-interest immigrant investor bond,” he said.
“[They] would be allowed to reside in Ireland [but] the investment would have to be for a minimum of five years.”
“Alternatively, there’d be an opportunity to invest a minimum of one million euros of venture capital funding into an Irish business, either an existing business or… new businesses.”