Background and Legal Considerations
Several countries have adopted provisions that allow the acquisition of citizenship on the basis of an investment and/or a direct contribution to the state as a means of development of the country. In Austria, Art. 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act states that the government can reward foreign persons with citizenship in the event of extraordinary merit. This may take various forms, including economic ones, and can include investment or other economic benefit brought to Austria. However, citizenship is not granted on the basis of investment alone. The foreign investor must make an extraordinary contribution alongside his investment, such as bringing new technologies to the country or creating a substantial number of new jobs.
Under the citizenship-by-investment provisions, an applicant is required to invest actively in the Austrian economy, for example in the form of a joint venture or direct investment in a business that creates jobs or generates new export sales. Significant direct investment is generally required. Passive investments in government bonds, real estate, etc. do not qualify.
In addition to standard documentary requirements (passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc.), a completely clean personal record (certificate of no criminal record), a comprehensive CV and business background information as well as impeccable references must be provided by all applicants.
The Austrian Citizenship Act generally requires the applicant to abandon his current citizenship as a precondition for being granted Austrian citizenship. However, in case of a grant of citizenship under the provisions of Art. 10 (6) of the Citizenship Act, the former citizenship can be legally maintained, i.e. the applicant is not required to give up his present citizenship.
The grant of citizenship on the basis of an investment involves various procedures and requires Government approval at several levels. It is therefore essential that the applicant is properly advised from the beginning, that each individual case is carefully prepared and that informal approvals from the key ministries are obtained before the investment is made and the formal application process is started.
Henley & Partners advises on suitable investment opportunities, liaises with the various government agencies and ministries, and finally prepares and lodges your application with the Government. As with other citizenship programs, the procedure involves a thorough background check, and applicants are normally required to attend an interview in Austria. Citizenship documents are issued after the citizenship application has been approved.
The average time frame for an application is 12 – 18 months. Successful applicants receive full citizenship of the Republic of Austria by decision of the Government of Austria, and can apply for a passport immediately afterwards. Passports are issued within a few days.
The grant of citizenship is not published and not reported to any other country, as it falls within the Government provisions relating to privacy/official secrets.
As a citizen of Austria you can live and work in the country as well as anywhere in the European Union at any time. In addition, as an EU citizen you also have the right to live in Switzerland, which is a very attractive place for tax-advantaged residence.
Unless you decide to actually reside in Austria, you are not subject to tax in Austria.
The Austrian passport enjoys an excellent reputation and offers very comprehensive visa-free travel, including visa-free access to the USA. The Austrian passport is without a doubt among the very best travel documents in the world.
Key advantages of Austrian citizenship
* Opportunity to become an EU citizen upon making a substantial investment
* Austrian passport gives visa-free access to most countries worldwide
* Austrian passport gives the right to reside anywhere in the EU as well as in Switzerland
* There is no need to spend any particular time actually residing in Austria
* There are no tax consequences unless your main (tax) residence is moved to Austria