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Question

123. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the historical facts, take-up and status of the passports for sale scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6055/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I understand the Deputy has since clarified that he is referring to the Immigrant Investor Programme of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department. However, I want to be absolutely clear that the State does not operate a ‘passports for sale scheme’ and that an investment under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) does not confer any preferential entitlement to citizenship or an Irish passport.
The IIP was introduced in April 2012 to encourage inward investment to create business and employment opportunities in the State. The requirement for investment in an enterprise in Ireland is €1m per individual investor.
The IIP provides non-EEA nationals with a number of options to invest in Ireland, and successful applicants are granted a permission to reside in Ireland for a fixed period. An investment of €1 million in projects must be made for a minimum of three years, which may be renewable following a review.
If the investment is withdrawn or an investor fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions of the programme, the permission to reside in Ireland maybe withdrawn. An Evaluation Committee comprising representatives of a number of Departments and State Agencies considers the applications.
A breakdown of the number of approvals and the overall value of approved applications - information which has been provided in previous parliamentary questions - is reproduced below for ease of reference.

Application Year Number of Approved Applications Total Value of Approved Applications
2012 5 €2,500,000
2013 14 €10,650,000
2014 30 €14,950,000
2015 65 €35,250,000
2016 272 €154,100,000
2017 294 €269,500,000
2018 38* €32,000,000
TOTAL 718 €518,950,000

*It should be noted that a total of 420 applications were received in 2018 of which 379 are currently being processed. Decisions on a significant number of these applications are expected in the coming weeks once processing has been completed.
A major external review of the IIP is underway and a tender process will be launched shortly to select a suitable candidate to undertake an independent evaluation. It is expected that the review will be concluded in the first half of 2019.