Austria is a favorite destination for foreign investors as the country was recently ranked the 12th richest country in the world, and its capital city Vienna has been ranked the world’s best city in terms of quality of life. Austria has a thriving social market economy along with a high standard of living and the school systems and healthcare infrastructure are also well regarded around the world. The tourism industry accounts for approximately 9% of Austria’s gross domestic product, with hydropower, wind energy, and solar energy being the other main economic sectors.
Ordinarily, in order to become an Austrian citizen, a foreign national must reside in the country on a continuous basis for ten years. However, foreign investors are eligible to apply for Austrian citizenship on the grounds of making a significant economic contribution to the nation, thereby bypassing the lengthy residence requirement. (Foreign nationals may also qualify for the expedited citizenship procedure if they can make a significant athletic, scientific, or cultural contribution to the country, but most investors would typically only qualify under the economic provision). The qualifying investment must be active, such as the formation of a new commercial enterprise that is geographically headquartered in Austria or a direct investment into an existing Austrian business that will prospectively create new jobs or increase product sales. Passive investments such as investments into government bonds or real estate holdings do not qualify for the citizenship program. There is no minimum amount that must be invested but in general an amount of at least 2,000,000 Euros is needed for the application to be approved. Moreover, an Austrian passport allows its holder to freely travel and work (and the children may attend schools) in any of the 27 European Union member states without the need for obtaining a visa or other travel document.