Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme Ireland (STEP VISA)

The Start up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) was introduced by the Irish Government in 2012 to allow for innovative entrepreneurs to apply for permission to establish their business and reside in Ireland on a full time basis.

Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme Ireland

Are you a non-EEA national who has an innovative idea for a start-up business (or existing business) with high growth potential? Are you willing to relocate to Ireland? If so, the Start up Entrepreneur  programme might be for you. For a minimum investment of €50,000. This programme offers a fast way to Irish residency status.

A High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) is a business with the potential to develop an innovative product or service that will be sold in international markets, with the potential to create at least 10 jobs and €1m in sales revenue within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

If you’d like further information about the STEP Visa, don’t delay, please call us now on +353 (0)1 264 5555 or complete our Online Enquiry and we’ll be delighted to help you.

Businesses that are most successful in being granted the visa have the following features

A solid business plan

A well developed and credible business plan that would appeal to potential investors.

Rapid growth & scalability

A High Potential Start Up should not be limited geographically, a demonstration of strong export potential is important. The marketing plan should indicate the potential market size and the value proposition needs to have relevance and appeal in important international markets.

The team/founders

The programme favours an expert CEO or founder with a strong supporting management team that has the vision and knowledge in their market to succeed. This can be identified by relevant skills or a proven track record.

A quality product/service with a competitive advantage

Communicate how the product/service solves problems for the customer. Innovative start-ups in terms of technology, process, or business models are preferential for the STEP programme.

Why Ireland is a very favorable country to do business

  • Financial funding and supports available to High Potential Start Ups
  • Access to a highly educated and highly skilled work force
  • It is a committed member of the EU Single Market and the Eurozone
  • The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world
  • One of the world’s lowest corporate tax rates on trading income at 12.5%
  • The banking system is up to standard, and there are no restrictions on moving your money around to other countries
  • Many world-leading organisations have come to Irish shores, including Google, Facebook, Pfizer and Apple.

Talk to us today about starting your business in Ireland, one of the most innovative and fastest growing economies in Europe.

What are the requirements for the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme

When completing your STEP application, there are a number of factors you need to keep in mind:

  1. You need to clearly demonstrate that you have the minimum funds that the programme requires. If you are the first founder of the start-up, this is €50,000. For any subsequent founder, this is €30,000.
  2. You need to include a detailed and robust business plan.
  3. The application must be a founder or main decision maker in the company e.g. CEO.
  4. Supporting documentation as listed in the Guidelines including evidence of your €50,000 funding, details of the source of this funding, and evidence of your good character.

This is where the legal team at Gibson & Associates LLP can help you. We will take the application out of your hands and work to build you a strong case. We will take complete ownership of the application, keeping you informed along the way.

The Immigration Permission

What is the permission?

The residence permit entitles individuals to live and work for 2 years in Ireland. Then an application for visa renewal can be submitted.


To renew the permit, start up must be operating and have secured an assessment by the Evaluation Committee stating its success and viability.

Family permission

Spouse/partner and children may be included in the application. If you are approved, you and your family will be able to enter Ireland on multi-entry visas, with permission to remain in the country for defined periods of time, and the possibility of ongoing renewal. The spouse may also be granted a work permit.

Citizenship options

After 8 years of residency, residents may be eligible for naturalisation.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of general enquiries about the start-up entrepreneur programme – many of which are easily answered and don’t require our assistance. Before you get in touch with us today, please check if your query has already been answered below.

If you are unable to find an answer, and still require help with STEP, we can help. Our quality fixed-fee service will ensure that the visa application process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Should I apply for the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme ?

The Start Up Entrepreneur Programme is suitable for non-EEA residents that are experienced business people with an innovative business plan. If you’re trying to set up your business in Ireland and gain residence in one of the best countries in the world to do business, STEP could help you to achieve this.

How do I secure an Irish entrepreneur visa?

To apply for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, you need to complete the entrepreneur application form that we can prepare for you. Applicants will also have to pay a non-refundable application fee of €350.

The following documentation is needed to complete the application:

  • Your passport and those of your spouse/partner and dependents (if applicable)
  • Evidence of family relationships (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funds
  • Evidence of investment or details of start-up
  • Police report or character report from risk management consultancy for yourself and for your spouse or partner (if applicable)

Is there a time limit on the application?

No, the application can be submitted throughout the year. The evaluations are held quarterly.

Do I need to be in Ireland to get the visa?

No, you do not have to be in Ireland to take part in the STEP programme, you can apply from your home country.

Do I need to prove that I am an experienced entrepreneur to apply?

While you will be judged on your resume and experience, it is not necessary to prove that you are an experienced entrepreneur. Those making the decision will do so based on your business plan.

Can I apply for the STEP programme with an existing business?

Yes, you can apply for the STEP programme with an existing business, as long as it is less than six years old at the time of your application.

What happens if my application is unsuccessful?

If your application is unsuccessful, we will advise you of the Minister’s decision in writing and the reasons why your application was refused.


More information on the requirements for the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme can be found in this blog post.

What our clients say

Meet the team

Sharon Shaw

Megan McKeon

Kelly McLaughlin

How we do things

1. We arrange a meeting with you to discuss your application

We arrange an appointment with you to get a better understanding of your specific needs and requirements. We can do this over the phone, at our offices or via video.

2. We advise of all the information you will require to support your application

To get things moving, we will discuss your circumstances and advise on all the information you should provide to support your application.

3. We present your case to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS)

Using our years of experience and insight, our specialist team will then compile a detailed and strategic application for you before presenting the best case possible to the INIS and any other relevant bodies.

4. The INIS assess your case

Once we have presented your application, the INIS will assess it and issue a determination.

5. We help you decide the next step following the determination

If you receive a negative decision from the INIS, our solicitors will give an honest assessment of whether it is fair. This helps you to make a decision about whether or not to accept the decision or make an appeal.

What’s different about Gibson & Associates LLP Solicitors

Our expertise

Gibson & Associates LLP is one of Ireland’s leading law firms. No matter your situation, our team will use their experience to make sure that you benefit from the best possible outcome.

Our ethos

We put our clients at the heart of everything we do and work tirelessly to get the best results.

We treat clients and each other the way we’d like to be treated and for us “good enough” just isn’t good enough!

We’re fast and responsive

When you make contact with our team, you’ll hear back from us within 3 hours or less – that’s our promise.

We use clear simple language

We don’t try to impress with “legalese” and jargon.  We use clear, plain language.

We give you a dedicated point of contact

The person responsible for your case will never change. You’ll be assigned a dedicated point of contact who will take charge of your case from start to finish.

Our transparency

At Gibson & Associates LLP, we’re clear about our processes and transparent when it comes to costs.

Before progressing any case, we offer a no-obligation consultation with our client care team and will provide you with practical options.

Integrity and transparency are core to how we work with all of our clients and means we’ll always treat your case as if it was our own.

Why Choose Gibson & Associates LLP?

We are one of Ireland’s leading law firms dedicated to using our years of experience to make sure that you benefit from the best possible outcome. We will be by your side throughout the process applying for Irish citizenship , using clear, plain language to explain your options and the next steps you should take.

You and your circumstances are unique – your solicitor should be too. You will be assigned a dedicated point of contact who will take charge of your case from start to finish – this person will never change.

Our solicitors put their clients at the heart of everything they do and work tirelessly to get you the best results. We treat clients the way we would like to be treated – for us, ‘good enough’ just isn’t good enough! Call us now on +353 (0)1 264 5555.