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Are you looking to emigrate to another country and set up your business? Look no further than Ireland – a hotbed of talent and attractive incentives, making it ideal for an ambitious entrepreneur. The Irish Government offers a special visa for entrepreneurs hoping to start new business enterprises in Ireland.

Read our detailed explanation of the Irish Entrepreneur Visa below. It contains everything you need to know about what the visa is, who is eligible and how to get one. 

What is an Irish Entrepreneur Visa?

The Irish Entrepreneur Visa helps business owners to set up their businesses in Ireland. It’s part of the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (or STEP). The purpose of STEP is to help non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals and their families to get secure residency status in Ireland when they commit to a high potential start-up business in Ireland.

The aim of the programme is to support High Potential Start-Ups. These are defined in the following ways:

  • Introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets
  • Involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services
  • Capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
  • Led by an experienced management team
  • Headquartered and controlled in Ireland
  • Less than 5 years old

The Programme was created by the Irish Government in 2012 to encourage productive investment in Ireland. In return it offers residency in Ireland to dynamic business professionals with a proven record of success.

Why is Ireland a great choice for businesses, investors and start-ups?

Ireland is an attractive place to run a business for many reasons including its tax regime. Globally, Ireland ticks many of the boxes for companies looking to invest. This is one of the reasons why many Multinational Companies use Ireland for their headquarters.

Ireland’s continuing success stems from its ability to attract cutting-edge Foreign Direct Investment from European and Asia-Pacific countries, and the USA. With more and more companies locating their overseas business here, it demonstrates a growing confidence. Almost 1,000 companies – including many of the best-known world brands – have placed Ireland at the hub of their European networks because of the opportunities the country offers.

A young, highly educated workforce, Low Corporation Tax Rate, a generous 25% Research and Development Tax Credit scheme and easy access to other European markets are just some of the reasons why many people are choosing to start businesses in Ireland. If you’re looking for inspiration, we recently identified the most inspiring Irish start-ups to watch in 2017/18.

How do I get the Irish Entrepreneur Visa?

To apply for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, you’ll need to complete the entrepreneur application form (pdf). Applicants will also have to pay a non-refundable application fee of €350.

You’ll need the following documentation to complete the application:

  • Your passport and those of your spouse/partner and dependents (if applicable)
  • Evidence of family relationships (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funds
  • Evidence of investment or details of start-up
  • Police report or character report from risk management consultancy for yourself and for your spouse or partner (if applicable)

Who should apply for the Irish Entrepreneur Visa?

The Irish Start-up Entrepreneur Visa Programme is perfect for non-EEA residents that are experienced business people with an innovative business plan. If you’re trying to set up your business in Ireland and gain residence in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, STEP is for you.

What are the benefits of the Irish Entrepreneur Visa? – What citizenship rights do I get if accepted?

If your application is successful, you and your nominated family members will be granted residence in Ireland for two years, which will be renewable for a further three years. After five years residence, you’ll have the option to apply for long-term residence.

If it’s required you’ll be given a multiple entry visa for Ireland for the same duration. This will allow you to both live In and travel freely to Ireland while you have the Visa.

IMPORTANT: This Programme does not give you or your family Irish citizenship. If you’re granted residence under STEP you can apply for Irish citizenship under the terms of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts near the end of your Entrepreneur Visa duration.

Do I qualify for the Irish Entrepreneur Visa?

When applying, there are a few things that are key to your STEP application success:

  1. You need to clearly demonstrate that you have the minimum funds that the programme requires. If you are the first founder of the start-up, this is €50k. For any subsequent founder, this is €30k.
  2. You need to include a detailed and robust business plan.

If these two criteria can be met, an independent committee will then examine your application on its unique merits.

Remember, this Visa is for non-EEA residents. Countries that belong to the EEA are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

Countries that are EEA member countries but NOT part of the European Union are: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.

Keep in mind: Switzerland, while a member of EFTA, is neither in the EU nor in the EEA.

Who does not qualify for residency under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme

  • EEA residents
  • The STEP is not intended for retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of that nature. The “Business Permission Scheme”, offered by the Government of Ireland is better suited for enterprises such as the above.

Alternatives to the Entrepreneur Visa

If you are looking to move to Ireland but don’t qualify for the Irish Entrepreneur Visa, we can advise you. The Immigrant Investor Programme offers the same resident benefits as the Entrepreneur Visa. Find out more about this type of Irish Immigration Visa here.

How Can Gibson & Associates help you get the Irish Entrepreneur Visa?

Ireland is the perfect place to set up business and put down roots. Our experts can do the hard work for you. We’ll take complete ownership of the STEP application, keeping you informed along the way. This leaves you to get on with building your business.

At Gibson & Associates, we’re dedicated to making the application process easy and stress-free for you. In our hands, your application stands a better chance of being approved first time, saving you money on not having to apply more than once. We’ll make sure your application is organised and accurate, giving you the best chance at success.

Why Choose Gibson & Associates?

Our specialised team have the experience and skill to make sure your application is both compelling and persuasive. You and your circumstances are unique – your solicitor should be too.  Get in touch with our experienced immigration team today, and we’ll get back to you within three hours or less.