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Chinese rush to invest and live in Ireland

By CONAL URQUHART | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-05-11 17:55

Chinese nationals were behind a 500 percent increase in the number of applications to the Irish immigrant investor scheme in 2016, according to Ireland's Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

Out of the 329 people who applied to take part in scheme, in which participants receive residency rights in return for investing in Irish assets, property, or businesses, 313 were from China. The rest came from 11 other countries.

The scheme, which is aimed at people from outside the European Economic Area, has never been so popular. In 2015, only 66 applications were received and, since 2012, only 130 applications have been approved, contributing 65 million euros ($70.6 million) to the Irish economy.

The increase corresponds to a surge in Chinese investment in Ireland in 2016. Chinese companies invested 2.7 billion euros in the country in 2016, compared to 66 million euros in 2015. The increase was mostly the result of HNA Group's 2.5 billion euro purchase of part of Irish aircraft leasing group Avolon.

The increase might also be attributed to the United Kingdom's decision in 2016 to leave the European Union, which makes a similar investment in the UK less interesting.

Most countries offer some kind of immigrant investor scheme. If the applications are successful, the additional Chinese residents are likely to add impetus to Ireland's attempts to start a direct flight from Dublin to Beijing.

The Irish scheme grants successful applicants and their families residency in Ireland, allowing them free movement in the EU. Investments that qualify for the program range from a minimum of 450,000 euros invested in residential property, 500,000 euros of philanthropic donations, or a range of investments from 1 to 2 million euros.

Successful applicants will get two-year residency permits, which can then be increased to five-year permits. After that, people can apply for long term residency.

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