Austria’s social system ‘unaffordable without migration’

Austria must encourage immigration in order to be able to afford to maintain its social security system, according to the interior ministry.

Austria's social system 'unaffordable without migration'
Sobotka wants a targeted immigration system. Photo: Michael Kranewitter

Presenting the findings of a report on migration, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said Austria needs around 50,000 migrants a year, who will work and pay social insurance.

The problem is that Austria’s population is shrinking, and ageing. The average birth rate of 1.4 children is not enough, according to migration experts. If the population does not grow the risk is that unemployment will increase and social benefits for all Austrians will become unaffordable.

However, Sobotka said that uncontrolled migration can be damaging to society and therefore he wants to set up a migration commission at the beginning of 2017 to come up with a strategy for controlled immigration.

The commission, headed by Heinz Fassmann, will be an advisory body that will work on a “targeted, structured, and qualification-orientated immigration system”.

Austria's social security system covers healthcare, incapacity for work, maternity benefits, unemployment benefits, old age, and nursing care among other things. 

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What is Vienna’s MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The city of Vienna now has several new appointment slots for a 'first information meeting' for those wanting to apply for Austrian citizenship. Here's what you need to know.

What is Vienna's MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna, MA 35, is known for long waiting periods, delays and even mistakes being made in applications. It has recently received renewed criticisms as new appointments for Austrian citizenship were not open until mid-2023.

Things got even worse, and applicants now have to wait until October 2023 to get the first appointment. Only after this meeting will they receive another date (sometimes also a year later) to submit the documents asked. 

READ ALSO: ‘Insensitive and inefficient’: Your verdict on Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

Green politician Aygül Berivan Aslan said the reform of MA 35 had “failed”. She said she welcomed the SPÖ’s push towards simplifying access to citizenship but felt that “theory and practice do not match”. Speaking in the Viennese parliament, she introduced a motion for a six-month evaluation of the office.

Aslan also proposed that in the case of delays of more than six months, citizenship costs should be waived for applicants. 

Stadt Wien service screenshot

How bad is the situation?

Not only do people have to wait months for a first talk and then months to submit documents, but once their part is done, the wait is not over. There are currently 3,800 procedures pending for more than half a year in the MA 35, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Integration Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) said.

He justified delays saying that the number of applications had risen by around 30 percent his year in Vienna – only last month, there were 600 appointments booked. 

“The sharp increase can be explained by the eligibility of refugees from 2015 to apply for citizenship as well as by uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine”, he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Bring everything you have’: Key tips for dealing with Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

He added that the goal would need to be “simplifying the procedures nationwide”. However, Wiederkehr also said there were reforms still being implemented in the MA 35.

Wiederkehr said: “On the part of the city, there are ongoing staff increases at MA 35. The training of the employees is so complex that it takes about a year.” 

“In addition to the increase in staff, there was an analysis to optimise some work processes, as well as intensive training. Digitalisation is also being accelerated”, he added.