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Residency-for-wealthy scheme raises €500m over the last six years

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Around €117m went toward social housing development

Around €117m went toward social housing development

Around €117m went toward social housing development

A controversial programme that grants residency to wealthy individuals in return for investment has brought more than €500m into Ireland over the past six years.

The Immigrant Investor Programme allows people with a net worth of more than €2m residence in Ireland for themselves and their family subject to conditions.

Almost a quarter of all the investment that came into the country through the scheme, a total of €124.3m, went into nursing home projects.

A further €117.7m went toward social housing development, according to detailed records provided by the Department of Justice covering 2014 to 2019.

Another €82m went into an "investment fund", while €70.5m was committed to hospitality or tourism projects.

Smaller amounts were also invested in healthcare, property and "specialist" investments. Environmental services yielded the lowest amount of investment at just €500,000.

The records show that applications involving €1.24bn worth of investment have been made through the scheme since 2014.

However, almost 40pc of applications have been rejected, with the value of granted applications currently €744.65m - not all of which has yet been invested.

The overwhelming majority of the investment has come from China according to the records, with almost 95pc of applications coming from that country.

The Department of Justice figures show that there have been 1,601 applications, of which 1,509 came from China.

A further 20 applications came from the US, with the remaining 72 classified as "rest of world".

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Of the 1,601 applications made, 984 have been granted, some 935 of them from China.

Success rates significantly varied according to the area of investment.

Of 419 applications made that involved putting money into social housing, only 254 - or 61pc - were successful.

However, of 280 investments proposed for nursing homes, 212 (76pc) were granted.

Among the least likely investments to get approved were those in the area of "sports and recreation/fitness", in which just two of 27 applications got the green light.

Under the scheme, successful applicants can get residence permission in Ireland, initially organised over a five-year period.

The residency can then be rolled over every five years provided the person has not become a "financial burden" on the State or been "investigated, indicted or convicted" of a criminal offence in any jurisdiction.

The success of the investment is irrelevant, according to guidelines for applicants, and as long as the funds promised are committed the residency permit is not affected.

Under the scheme, investors do not even have to be resident in Ireland. However, they must visit Ireland "at least once per calendar year".

A Department of Justice spokesman said: "This permission allows them to reside, study and work in Ireland should they choose to do so."

The spokesman said the fact that a majority of applicants were Chinese was an experience shared by other countries operating similar schemes.