On Tuesday 14 February, the Irish government announced the closure of the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). IIP applications via approved projects may be granted a grace period of three months to submit the finalised application. Any interest in IIP is the last chance and would have to apply on an urgent and immediate basis or the programme will no longer be available. Contact us now.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents have an intention to emigrate, Ireland ranks in top three most popular Hong Kong emigration destinations

Nearly 80 percent of respondents are considering or will consider moving aboard, a survey from the immigration arm of Irish developer Bartra Group has found. The current wave of emigration began in 2019 and remains strong. Bartra Wealth Advisors (“Bartra”), a subsidiary of Ireland’s leading real estate developer Bartra Group and the first Irish developer providing direct Irish immigration investment advisory in Hong Kong, conducted an online survey in March to find out more about Hong Kong people’s migration intentions and emigration trends. The company surveyed nearly 500 Hong Kong citizens aged 18 and above.

According to the findings of the survey, the top three locations that Hong Kong people would like to emigrate to were Taiwan, the UK and Australia. With Hong Kong people’s increasing exposure to Ireland, the nation ranked second as an emigration destination among European countries, ahead of Germany, Bulgaria and Portugal. When choosing an emigration destination, more than 60% of respondents considered prioritising factors such as cost of emigration and ease of obtaining application approval.

The survey also revealed that the objectives of the Hong Kong people who intend to emigrate were to seek a better living environment (51%), to ensure a better education for their children (29%), and to obtain alternative overseas permanent residency and citizenship (27%). These findings reflect the dissatisfaction of Hong Kong people with their current living situation and education system. Of the different countries/regions, Ireland ranked top among the places to move to when considering quality of life and the economic development perspectives. When considering education as a factor determining an immigration destination, Ireland ranked second after the UK, and ahead of Canada, Australia and the US, reflecting the high value that Hong Kong parents place on an Irish education.


In terms of methods through which to emigrate, more than 40% of respondents preferred investment immigration, for the main reason that it is simpler and more direct. Among the investment immigration programmes, Irish immigration ranked top based on the ease of obtaining application approval and the flexibility of its residing requirements compared to other investment immigration programmes. This reflects how well the Irish investment immigration programme suits the needs of Hong Kong families – the Irish IIP allows applicants to reside just one day per year in Ireland to maintain their residency, enabling them to immigrate without relocating for easier managing of their current business and networks, as well as for efficient tax planning.

Considering all the factors offered by different countries/regions and their immigration programmes, the top three most popular emigration destinations for Hong Kong people were Taiwan, Australia and Ireland.

In 2021, Bartra received total investment of €54 million (60 family applications) and became the largest project supplier and service provider of the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) in Asia. The majority of Bartra’s investor applications took six to nine months to be approved, with the shortest time for approval taking less than three months. Mr. Jeffrey Ling, Regional Director of Bartra Wealth Advisors, said, “Many high-income families in Hong Kong have formed an intention to emigrate, but more than 30% of respondents have some hesitation due to their current job or business. The IIP in Ireland provides great flexibility with regard to travelling requirements; families only need to reside one day per year in the country to retain their right of abode. Therefore, investors do not need to quit their jobs in Hong Kong, and can obtain an overseas residency relatively quickly without relocating.”

Additionally, Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the European Union, which presents fewer language barriers for Hong Kong immigrants. The accompanying children of IIP applicants to Ireland can also enjoy free education there at a choice of schools. Those who have residency, study in Ireland and reside there for five years can apply for citizenship individually at the age of 18, so parents have greater flexibility to travel and can avoid long-staying resident requirements in the country. The Irish education system is among the best in the world, ranking seventh internationally. Apart from being a member of the European Union and the Eurozone, Ireland is also part of the Common Travel Area (CTA) with the UK, providing various rights to citizens of both countries. Ireland also offers an attractive living environment; in a ranking of the best countries to live in 2022 it came in joint second place with Switzerland, behind Norway.

Ireland also provides ample investment opportunities. Bartra offers its Social Housing and Nursing Home projects to IIP clients to obtain permanent residency in Ireland, which can be achieved in three or five years (4% annual interest for the 5-year investment option). Both of Bartra’s projects have a full repayment guarantee for capital protection. Bartra has a proven track record of 100% for approval, renewal and repayment. And it is the only developer in the IIP field that sources, builds and manages projects from start to finish in Ireland, and offers the services of its in-group overseas immigration arm, which provides professional immigration by investment advisory. To meet the IIP’s €2 million asset proof requirements, applicants can use stocks, funds, cash value of insurance policies, properties, and even car parking spaces, valuable paintings or collectables. Investment is only required after receipt of an application approval letter. Some clients seek advice from financial services to pledge or refinance their assets to fund the €1 million investment in the current low-interest environment to obtain residency without disposing of existing investments.

Irish secondary and tertiary education – paving the way for a successful future

Ireland offers a world-class education, whether you are looking to enrol students at a primary school level or have older children and are seeking out quality second- and third-level education solutions. We have previously introduced the Irish education system and its primary level schools, and the next stage of education is a similarly attractive proposition, particularly for those coming from Hong Kong.

Irish secondary and tertiary education

Ireland’s secondary education system spans six years, with students starting at the age of 12. The Leaving Certificate Examination is taken in Year 6 as entry to tertiary-level education. This is similar to both the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Students can apply for tertiary education through UCAS in the UK and Non-JUPAS in Hong Kong, and vice versa.

It’s worth noting that in 2020, Chinese became a curricular subject and its first batch students will take the exam in June 2022. While Chinese is the most eye-catching new addition to the Leaving Certificate, students this year will also be sitting the first exams in Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese as curricular languages. The three languages are now widely spoken in Ireland with Polish more widely spoken in Ireland than Irish.

State-funded education is available at second- and third-level in Ireland. For secondary education, there is a large number of both public and private schools. According to the Department of Education, there were around 26,000 students enrolled in private secondary schools in the 2019/20 school year, with 51 out of Ireland’s 723 secondary schools classified as fee-paying institutions.

“Private schools are not as expensive as they are in either the UK, US or Asia. They are more affordable. The fact that we’re English-speaking, have a respected education reputation, with mainly small-size schools, are all key factors in Ireland’s favour,” says Ciara Shaffrey, of relocation service Settle In.

Two-thirds of Ireland’s private schools are located in Dublin. The largest mixed private school is St Andrew’s College in Booterstown, Co Dublin, while the largest all-girls private school is Mount Anville, in Goatstown, D14.

The library gallery of Trinity College Dublin, where the Book of Kells is kept. Trinity is regarded as one of the leading universities in Europe.

The third-level education sector in Ireland provides a full range of options. There are seven universities in Ireland. These include The National University of Ireland (NUI), which is the umbrella organisation of University College Dublin (UCD); National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway); University College Cork (UCC); and Maynooth University; Trinity College Dublin; the University of Limerick (UL); and Dublin City University (DCU).

Additionally, there are five technological universities and two institutes of technology (ITs), which provide training in science, engineering and linguisitics to certificate, diploma and degree levels, and several colleges of education that provide specialised training for school teachers. A number of fee-paying, third-level educational institutions offer courses, mainly in professional vocational training and business.

Below are some popular subjects at Irish universities and the requirements:

The benefits of an Irish education

Kam Chin is a Hong Kong-born immigrant who has lived in Ireland for more than 30 years. Formerly a primary school teacher in Hong Kong, after immigrating to Ireland, Kam opened a Chinese restaurant and founded a post-secondary school offering pathway courses leading to local universities. He is also the founder of the Irish Chinese Society of Galway, Ireland.

Kam’s son received his education in Ireland from primary school through to university, before obtaining a PhD from University College London. He currently works at a university in Denmark as a Postdoctoral Researcher.

“Unlike studying in Hong Kong, which puts pressure on both students and parents, the academic pressure on students over schoolwork and exams is comparatively much lower in Ireland. During my son’s secondary school, I had to run my business, so I could only take him to school occasionally and barely had time to look after his studies. But he handled his schoolwork well and he enjoyed his studies. In his senior secondary, he usually finished his homework in about an hour and then went rowing. As a foreign parent living in Ireland, I did not have parenting stress or worry about my son’s study,” says Kam. “In Ireland, universities have enough quotas for local secondary school leavers if the results from the Leaving Certificate are not too bad. Although entry to Trinity College or top universities cannot always be guaranteed, most students can enter tertiary education institutions. And all the schools in Ireland are good due to the strict guidelines and regulations from the government so parents and students do not have to ‘fight’ for the quotas of the top universities,” continues Kam, whose son went to the National University of Ireland, Galway, before moving to Sweden to attain a Master’s degree from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, one of the top schools in Europe, and then to UCL in London where he completed his doctoral degree.

“It is a huge benefit for children who hold a Stamp 4 or PR visa to study in Ireland as after remaining in Ireland for five years and obtaining their passports, they can pursue further studies in top schools in other EU countries. Their choices are not limited to only one country.”

When asked if he has to worry about his son financially, Kam replied, “he is very independent, I did not have to give him pocket money or to support him financially after he was 18. He had scholarships to cover his schooling in Sweden and the UK, and to pay his rent. Now my son is hired by the EU to work on research projects at a university in Demark. I think his current job is very well paid as he has already bought his own property.”

Kam is very glad that he made the choice to move to Ireland, as it allowed him to give his son a top education and access to the world, the tools his son needed to succeed.

The IIP for your family’s future success

The Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is renowned as one of the best immigrant by investment programmes in Europe for its safety, fast approval and residing flexibility. Once an application is approved, residency can also be granted to the investor’s spouse, partner and/or children when certain criteria are met. Children can enjoy the benefits of high-quality education in Ireland, which paves the way to future success.

In Ireland, students who hold a Stamp 4 visa or PR, and study for five years, can apply for citizenship independently when they turn 18, which is unlike other developed English-speaking countries where children can only be granted citizenship after their parents qualify.

Additionally, IIP investors can avail a discount on their investment for any educational expenses that they intend to commit to in Ireland up to a maximum of €50,000. Some conditions apply:

  • Investors may discount their approved investment with eligible education expenses that they commit to incur within the first five years after their permission has been granted.
  • The education expenses must be for an Irish University or Institute of Technology.
  • The expenses must be for the investor and/or their family member who has been accepted on an academic programme in one of the above educational institutions.
  • The expenses must be indicated as part of the application process.

For more information about education in Ireland or other aspects of living in Ireland, contact us for a copy of our Ireland Guide.