Expert talk: Igor Strehl on immigration, investment, and quality living in Austria
In the heart of Europe, Austria has long been celebrated for its rich cultural heritage, stunning Alpine landscapes, and high standard of living. Yet beyond its picturesque beauty lies an increasingly enticing proposition for global citizens: a commitment to embracing international diversity, fostering business growth, and offering an outstanding standard of living. As Austria evolves, its immigration and investment programs have followed suit, positioning the country among the top destinations for those seeking not just a new home, but a fresh start.
In this blitz interview, Igor Strehl, Founder and General Director of Dunaj Family Office Сonsulting 24/7 GmbH, provides an insight into Austria's immigration landscape and investment opportunities.
Austria seems to be actively enhancing its immigration programs. What is the current situation with immigration reforms in Austria?
Igor Strehl: Austria is committed to attracting international talent and investment, and this commitment is evident in the recent reform to the Red-White-Red (RWR) Card permits. This reform has led to a 47% increase in issued RWR Cards in 2023 compared to 2022, granting over 3,800 permits to non-EU skilled workers. The changes include narrowing the income gap, prioritizing English proficiency, and expanding language criteria to include French, Spanish, Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian, focusing on attracting workers from the Western Balkans and other developing regions. This is great news for those looking to establish themselves in Austria.
That's impressive growth. Can you give us an overview of the immigration procedures available for those interested in moving to Austria?
Igor Strehl: Austria offers several immigration pathways, with two main options being the Red-White-Red (RWR) Card Program and the EU Blue Card.
The RWR Program is one of the main gateways to Austria that ensures a residence and working permit bound to a specific employer with validity for up to two years. It is designed for skilled workers in various fields such as healthcare, entrepreneurship, research, technology, and tourism. Eligibility for Austria's RWR Card involves garnering points across five distinct categories: qualifications, professional experience, language skills, and age. Additional requirements include adequate means of living, health insurance, and legal accommodation.
The EU Blue Card, on the other hand, is for third-country nationals with a university degree related to a high-salary job offer. This card doesn't use a points system like the RWR Card and is linked to a specific employer. Both these cards offer family members immediate access to the RWR Plus Card, providing residence rights and labor market access.
Are there any other immigration options worth mentioning?
Igor Strehl: Indeed. Austria also offers a Job Seeker Visa for highly qualified professionals without a job contract, allowing a six-month job search. Full-time students at Austrian universities can obtain a student residence permit with basic German language skills, which can be extended for job-seeking or business startup after studies. There are also options for researchers, artists, and financially independent individuals. The "Long-term resident – EU" status is granted after five years of uninterrupted residence in Austria.
Moving on to investment opportunities, could you elaborate on Austria's entrepreneurship and investment environment?
Igor Strehl: Austria has become a thriving start-up ecosystem, with over 3,300 startups founded since 2011. The government's commitment to research funding, talent development, and industry collaboration has attracted international venture capital, boosting the success of startups like Go Student, which secured an impressive €300 million investment in 2022.
Moreover, Austria offers various public funding programs for foreign investors and innovative ideas. These include aws Growth Investment, FFG Impact Innovation, Markt.Start, aws Preseed, aws Seedfinancing, and FFG Start-up Funding, to name just a few. These grants cover a wide range of expenses and are designed to encourage foreign investment and innovation.
Finally, why do you think Austria is such an appealing destination for immigration and investment?
Igor Strehl: Austria's commitment to international diversity, business growth, and providing a high standard of living for foreigners is evident through its diverse immigration pathways and investment-friendly environment. It is undoubtedly a country worth considering for both living and investing. Whether you're a skilled worker, investor, or someone looking to reunite with family, Austria offers tailored options. However, the process can be complex, which is where professional guidance can be invaluable.
Still in doubt whether to consider Austria as a country to live or invest in? Read this article to decide.