Residency In Ireland for Non EEA Nationals Under the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme


The Start Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)  is run by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration service.

It allows non-eea nationals and their families acquire residency status in Ireland once they commit to starting a business in Ireland.

The non EEA National can apply for residency as an individual or can apply for themselves and their family. This includes their spouse or partner and minor children-children under the age of 18 years.

If you are successful you and your nominated family members will be granted residency in Ireland for two years; this will be renewable for 3 more years.

After 5 years residence participants in the program will be eligible for long-term residence in Ireland.

However this does not mean that participants are Irish citizens. You can apply for Irish citizenship under the normal rules and criteria for citizenship as set out in Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1957-2004.

Who may apply for residency under the Startup Entrepreneur Programme?  People with a proposal for high potential start up in the innovation economy and funding of €75,000 are eligible.

However, if your business is in retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of this nature you will not qualify.

High potential start-up is a start-up venture led by an experienced management team, is capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising 1 million euros in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up and is introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets.

The application process has two stages

Number one is the application for investment in immigration approval.

This involves the candidates submitting application forms and all supporting documentation as well as details of their enterprise proposals for approval by the evaluation committee. There is an application fee of €350.

Stage 2 of the process involves the issue of residence permission provided that the required funding has been transferred to a financial institution in Ireland. The applicant will also need to submit an affidavit attesting to good character and no criminal convictions.

Documentation and evidence required to support your application will include a comprehensive business plan, the most recent audited accounts for a business if it is an existing business and evidence of funding of €75,000 or more. The applicant will also need to show that the funds are to be used for the proposed startup.

The applicant may also need to show where the funds have come from-that is to say, what is the source of the funds.

It is also necessary to submit a statement of character from the police authorities of each country in which the applicant has resided for more than 6 months during the previous 10 year.

If successful, the applicant will be given a visa allowing them to reside and work in Ireland for two years.

Spouses and minor children are also allowed to accompany the applicant. The residency permission can be renewed for a further three years provided the start-up business remains in place and an assessment by the evaluation committee has been carried out.

Also, the applicant will need to have maintained the good character and not have had recourse to publicly funded welfare programs.

The residency permission can, as I indicated already, be renewed for a further three years. Eligible family members include spouses or partners.

A spouse will need to show a marriage certificate while a partner needs to show evidence that they have lived in cohabitation in a common law or de facto relationship for the previous 2 years. The minor children of the applicant will also qualify for residency status provided that the applicant qualifies for residency status and provided that they are legally in the custody/guardianship of the applicant.

The applicant will need to supply a birth certificate detailing parentage and verifying the custody or guardianship of the children.

The decision of the Minister in respect of an application is final, however, an applicant may apply again at a later date.

Applications must be made to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

The application should be accompanied by the travel document of the applicant and any necessary supporting documentation.

Learn more about the STEP programme on the website of the Department of Justice here.