SHARE
COPY LINK

TURKEY

Austria court gives hope to those caught in nationality row

An Austrian court gave hope to thousands of citizens of Turkish origin caught in a row over dual nationality Monday, handing down a favourable decision in a key test case.

Austria court gives hope to those caught in nationality row
The Turkish embassy in Vienna. Photo: AFP

The Constitutional Court upheld the appeal of a man threatened with the loss of his Austrian nationality because he appeared on a purported list of Turkish voters in Austria.

The ruling questioned the authenticity of the list and criticised the way officials had pursued cases against the people named.

The list was leaked by the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) last year, when they were still in opposition.

The authorities used it to open investigations into whether those who appeared on it had dual nationality, which Austria only allows in rare cases.

However, in its decision the Constitutional Court found that the list was “not suitable for use as evidence”, calling it “questionable” and “not authentic”.

The ruling also criticised how officials had expected those affected to prove that they had not taken up Turkish citizenship again.

“The burden of proof must not be simply be passed on to the person affected,” said the ruling.

That denied people the “constitutionally guaranteed right to equal treatment of all citizens before the law”, it said.

The FPÖ, part of the governing right-wing coalition since last December, has never explained how it obtained the list.

But in its response to Monday's ruling, it said it refused to accept that it was not genuine.

So far, 85 people nationwide have had their citizenship revoked.

The issue has become a major talking point in Austria's Turkish-origin community, with several of those affected insisting that their presence on the list must be a mistake.

Austria, like neighbouring Germany, invited thousands of Turkish citizens to come and work in the 1960s and 1970s, and many staying and putting down roots.

Turkish immigrants and their descendants now number around 270,000 out of the population of 8.7 million. 

For members

READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Will my children get an Austrian passport if born in Austria?

Having an Austrian passport can bring many advantages, including rights to stay in the country and to vote in national elections, but are children born and raised here entitled to it?

Reader question: Will my children get an Austrian passport if born in Austria?

Austria is one of the many European countries that adopt citizenship rules based on jus sanguinis, meaning that Austrian nationality is passed on by blood, not by territory.

Other countries also accept citizenship based on territory, so a person born in the United States or Brazil, for example, is considered an US or Brazilian citizen.

Both countries also accept “blood citizenship”, so a child born in New York to Austrian parents will be entitled to both citizenships (American and Austrian) based on US law.

It is not the same in Austrian law. The alpine country does not recognise citizenship jus soli, meaning that being born in Austria does not make a person Austrian.

If none of the parents of this child is an Austrian citizen at the time of birth, the child does not obtain Austrian citizenship either. Instead, they will receive whichever nationality their parents hold, following the parent’s country’s rules.

For example, a child of Turkish immigrants that is born in Austria will be Turkish even if their parents have been legally residing in Austria for years and were born here themselves.

Naturalisation process for people born in Austria

One alternative for people born in Austria to receive an Austrian passport is by going through a naturalisation process.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people? 

They will still need to fulfil specific requirements, but many will be easier for children born and raised here. For example, children who have six years of legal and uninterrupted residence in Austria and birth in Austria can already apply for citizenship instead of waiting for 15 or even 30 years of legal residence in some cases.

Many other points, including proof of knowledge of German at level B2 or five years of marriage to an Austrian, will also allow people who have been legally and uninterruptedly living in Austria for six years to apply for citizenship early.

Besides that, children born here have an “easier” path to citizenship in certain requirements. For example, those younger than 14 years old don’t need to submit proof of German language skills.

Kids will likely have less trouble proving they’ve had no problems with the law, administrative violations, and that they are not a threat to Austrian security.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

However, they will need to renounce their previous citizenship. If not possible because of the other country, they will be asked to do so, or to “choose a citizenship”, once they turn 18.

Which children born in Austria are automatically Austrians?

Children automatically become Austrian citizens at birth if their mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies to children whose parents are married if only the father is an Austrian citizen.

In cases where a child’s parents are not married, and only the father is Austrian, the child acquires citizenship by origin if the Austrian father either acknowledges paternity after eight weeks of the baby’s birth or if the paternity is acknowledged or proven by the court.

In these cases, when the child has parents of different citizenships, Austria allows for dual citizenship.

Whereas in a naturalisation process, the child will need to give up their other passports to become Austrian, if they have an Austrian mother and a British father, for example, they can keep both, according to Austrian law.

What can I do if I want my child to be a dual citizen?

One thing many parents do if they want their child to become Austrian and keep another citizenship is naturalising themselves before the baby is born.

The parent who naturalises Austrian will lose his or her previous citizenship, but the child will then be born to an Austrian and a foreign parent and therefore be entitled to inherit and keep both.

READ ALSO: How can I apply for dual citizenship in Austria?

For example, two American parents living in Austria could have an American-Austrian child if one of them naturalises before the baby’s birth. Provided, of course, they themselves fulfil the criteria for naturalisation.

A child could even hold multiple nationalities if they were all “by blood”

The child of a Brazilian-Italian father and an Austrian mother, for example, would be entitled to all three passports. They would not need to lose any citizenship – not even when turning 18.

Austria provides for loss of citizenship in just a few cases, though, including when a person voluntarily joins another country’s military service.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?

How much does it cost?

Austrian citizenship is not easy to get. Besides the difficulty to fulfil criteria, and the need to renounce other citizenships, it is one of the more costly processes in the EU.

The application itself costs around € 130, and you can expect to pay between €1,100 and € 1,500 if you are granted citizenship.

That is only for the process itself, which does not include any legal assistance you might procure or the translation and certification of documents.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to become an Austrian citizen?

Follow-up costs, like for the actual passport, are also not included. Don’t worry, though. For this sort of cash, Austria takes credit cards.

Useful vocabulary

Staatsbürgerschaft – citizenship
minderjährige Personen – minors
Voraussetzungen – prerequisites
bestimmten Zeitraum – specific period of time
Nachweis von DeutschKenntnissen – Proof of knowledge of German

SHOW COMMENTS