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Small increase in foreigners getting citizenship

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Small increase in foreigners getting citizenship
Austrian passport and citizenship certificate. Photo: APA/Techt
11:38 CEST+02:00
In 2013, Austrian citizenship was granted to a total of 7,418 foreigners (including 64 non-residents). Compared to 2012, this was an increase of 4.4 percent (7,107).

However, the number of people gaining Austrian citizenship has steadily declined from a high of 45,000 in 2003. The all time low was in 2010 (6,190).

In the 1980s, on average 7,800 people acquired Austrian citizenship every year. But as a consequence of the growing number of foreign citizens residing in Austria, this number rose sharply in the mid-1990s.

Austria also joined the EU in 1995. 

In 1997 about 16,000 people were naturalized, in 1999 about 25,000 and in 2003 more than 45,000 foreign nationals acquired Austrian citizenship.

The Federal Statistics Office said that two main factors are responsible for the reduction of naturalisations - firstly, changes to the Citizenship Act which came into force in March 2006, January 2010 and August 2013, which introduced stricter requirements for the acquisition of Austrian citizenship.

And secondly, immigration numbers have dropped since 1993 and as a consequence the number of people eligible for naturalisation (for example those with at least ten years of uninterrupted main residence in Austria) has also decreased over the past ten years.

Restrictive rules about dual citizenship may also have discouraged foreigners from seeking Austrian naturalization - as in most cases people have to renounce their previous nationality.

Turks still biggest group

The majority of people who acquired citizenship in 2013 were between the ages of 30 and 44 (34.1 percent), followed by those aged under 15 years (29.5 percent).

In general, teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 29 (26.4 percent) were more likely to receive Austrian citizenship, compared to persons aged 45 and older (10.0 percent).

Citizenship was awarded to 2,720 people born in Austria (36.7 percent), while 4,698 were foreign-born citizens (63.3 percent).

Turks were the most numerous group to receive Austrian citizenship (1,108), followed by Bosnians and Herzegovinians (1,039), Serbs (824), Russians (430) and Kosovars (348).

Applicants for citizenship must take a test which demonstrates they have some knowledge of Austrian history and of the federal province they live in, and prove that they have a good knowledge of the German language.

They must also prove that they are able to support themselves financially, and should have had ten years of continuous residence in Austria, or six years if they are citizens of other European Economic Areas. 

Spouses of Austrian citizens must have been married for a minimum of five years, and also have lived in Austria with a settlement permit for a minimum of six years - by far the most restrictive law among EU member countries for foreign spouses wishing to obtain citizenship.

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