I propose to take Questions Nos. 547 and 548 together.
The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) was introduced in April 2012 to encourage inward investment and create business and employment opportunities in the State. The programme provides investors with the opportunity to invest in Ireland. Key to the programme is that the investments are beneficial for Ireland, generate or sustain employment and are generally in the public interest.
Successful applicants under the Immigrant Investment Programme and their nominated family members may be granted a residence permission in Ireland under Stamp 4 conditions. Stamp 4 conditions permit non-EEA nationals to work, study or start their own businesses in Ireland. Therefore, given the significant immigration benefits accruing and to ensure the highest degree of transparency and accountability for the programme, it is essential that all applications are subject to enhanced levels of due diligence processes in respect of both personal and financial checks, to protect the State's interests.
I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the individuals referred to by the Deputy have made applications under the Immigrant Investor programme. INIS has introduced a number of enhanced control mechanisms as outlined which has led to temporary increase in processing times, as the new processes are bedded in. However, I am advised that a decision on a significant number of applications is expected to issue over the coming weeks.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department expects that, in 2019, processing times for applications will be between 6-9 months. I am advised that timeframe compares very favourably to international peers, some of whom operate a decision-making framework of between 12 and 24 months.