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IMMIGRATION

Austria to get tough on people smugglers

New figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office show that the number of people smugglers arrested this year has risen by 25 percent compared to last year. Between January and the end of June almost 350 suspected smugglers were charged. A total of 500 were charged during 2014.

Austria to get tough on people smugglers
42 people were hidden inside this van. Photo: LPD NÖ

The interior and justice ministries have pledged to step up the fight against people smuggling, and have presented a “five point plan”. This includes an increase in the number of specialized investigative teams, stricter punishments for smugglers, more specialized prosecutors and increased enforcement along Austria’s borders.

Both Austrian and Hungarian officials will be involved in border checks, and controls are already taking place on trains leaving Budapest for Austria, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told Ö1 radio.

She added that she is talking to her Hungarian counterpart about how to facilitate a complete control of all incoming trains from Hungary, and how to monitor Hungarian railway stations.

The Ministry of Justice is planning to establish a team of specialized public prosecutors to deal with people smuggling cases.

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Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna’s MA35?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna is for many immigrants their first encounter with Austrian bureaucracy. We want to hear from you about your own experience dealing with officials and the process.

Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna's MA35?

Vienna’s MA35 is a well-known office for immigrants in Austria, particularly those who live in the capital. It has received plenty of criticism for long delays, mistakes and even mistreatment of those seeking services from renewing a visa to applying for Austrian citizenship.

Yet, it is an integral part of life for immigrants and their family members, as the office is responsible for residence permits (from visas to the Anmeldebescheiningung for EU citizens), naturalisation applications and more. In short: there is no escaping it.

So, we want to hear from you: What has been your experience and importantly do you have any advice for others?

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