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Austria — Europe’s Hidden Treasure

15 May, 2018

At the heart of the EU, Austria is one of the most visited countries in the world that combines old-world charm with modern comfort and safety. Austria is considered a highly stable country and boasts a standard of living superior to that of many others. Although it is one of the smaller states of Europe, it has a world-class capital, Vienna, which has a rich cultural and historic heritage that residents and travelers alike enjoy tremendously.

Austria offers one of the highest-ranking quality of life standards globally. In 2017, international consultancy Mercer ranked Vienna as the world’s leading city to live in — an accolade the city has enjoyed for eight consecutive years. For those seeking a second home, the country is a strong contender; however, this holds equally true for those in need of only a temporary arrangement. The first origins of Austrian culture can be found in the Hallstatt culture, which gained its wealth from the salt trade and had important connections to the Mediterranean culture during the Iron Age. The country traces its name to a document from Emperor Otto III from the year 996, where, for the first time, the name ‘Ostarrichi’ was mentioned. This evolved into ‘Österreich’, the German name for Austria.

The birthplace of Marie Antoinette and Sigmund Freud, Austria is perhaps one of the most underrated countries globally. However, with its strategic positioning between east and west, north and south, the country is an economically attractive hub for multinationals that enables effortless access to EU markets. In addition, with its pristine mountain and lake scenery, its culinary delights, a solid health system, and world class teaching/ research facilities, more and more people are coming to realize the hidden treasure that Austria is.

Politically, Austria is a parliamentary republic founded on democratic principles and the separation of powers. The highest state representative is the Federal President, whose term of office lasts six years. The two parliamentary chambers are the National Council (lower house) and the Federal Council (upper house) and these are the nation’s legislative bodies. The Federal Chancellor is the head of the federal government.

Austria is a federation made up of nine federal provinces. The federal capital city, Vienna, is also one of the nine federal provinces in its own right. Each of the nine provinces is led by a provincial government headed by a governor. According to the 2018 Henley Passport Index, ownership of an Austrian passport enables holders visa-free access to 177 countries, ranking the Austrian passport among the top five passports in the world.

Under the country’s citizenship-by-investment provisions, an applicant is required to make a substantial contribution to the Austrian economy. This may take the form of a joint venture or a direct investment in a business that creates jobs or generates new export sales. In addition, applicants must submit a clean personal record, a comprehensive curriculum vitae, background business information, and references. Children under the age of 18 years may be included in the same application as the main applicant. Until 2006, all applicants were required to show basic proficiency in the German language; however, this is no longer required for the main applicant; only dependents must fulfill this requirement.

In the event that the federal government unanimously confirms that awarding citizenship is in the particular interest of the republic due to the applicant’s past or prospective extraordinary achievements, the general conditions for awarding citizenship no longer apply (with the exception of the condition that granting citizenship must not significantly impair the international relationships or harm the interests of the Republic of Austria). Extraordinary achievements are classed as those that are far above average and cannot be attained by any other person of the same level of education and training. These achievements must either have been performed in the past, or must be performed in the future. Services in business as well as those in social or humanitarian work can be rewarded, as can extraordinary achievements in art, culture, sport, and science.