• Government Plans New Investor/Entrepreneur Program and Other Immigration Changes for 2012
  • January 23, 2012
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • In 2012, the Irish government intends to implement a new immigration program for investors and entrepreneurs, provide greater clarity on family reunification policy and enhance immigration cooperation with the United Kingdom, according to a recent announcement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defense. The proposals for the coming year follow newly released 2011 statistics showing an eight percent increase in entry visa applications and a fifty percent increase in naturalization applications compared to 2010.

    New Immigrant Program for Investors and Entrepreneurs

    Ireland intends to introduce a new immigrant program for investors and entrepreneurs seeking to launch start-up companies in the country. The program is intended to spur investment and job creation. Details of the program are expected within the next few months.

    Clarification of Policies on Family Reunification and Settlement

    Ireland will work to develop clearer policies concerning family reunification and permanent residence, focusing on non-European Economic Area (EEA) family members of Irish citizens, as well as non-EEA family members of non-EEA nationals already living in Ireland. Though Irish authorities would likely retain a fair amount of discretion over family reunification cases, the Minister said that a clear statement of policy would benefit both prospective immigrants and the government’s management of immigration matters.

    Other Forthcoming Changes

    Also in 2012, Ireland intends to preserve and enhance its Common Travel Area arrangement with the United Kingdom, review the effects of the visa waiver pilot program for nationals of select countries, pilot the use of civilian staff to perform immigration screening duties in association with the country’s Gardaí, and finalize English language and civics tests for naturalization applicants.

    What the Proposals Mean for Employers

    A new investor and entrepreneur program would likely benefit companies seeking to send foreign staff to Ireland in preparation for new investments there and attract entrepreneurs to Ireland. Foreign nationals would welcome additional clarity concerning family reunification policies. However, the Minister’s announcement only broadly discussed the proposed measures, and much could change over the course of 2012.