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NATURALISATION

Everything you need to know about applying for Austrian citizenship

Austria has some of the toughest naturalisation rules in Europe. Here's what you need to know if you're trying to become Austrian, writes Hayley Maguire.

Everything you need to know about applying for Austrian citizenship
Want to become Austrian? Here's how. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP
Becoming a citizen of another country is a big decision. Even more so in a country that is known for having tough citizenship rules – like Austria.

In fact, Austrian citizenship, or naturalisation, is one of the least applied for in the EU. This is put down to strict eligibility requirements on the length of time spent in the country and, in most cases, renouncing original citizenship.

It doesn’t mean becoming an Austrian citizen is impossible though and last year more than 10,000 people went through the process of naturalisation in Austria.

Who is applying for Austrian citizenship?

In 2019, the number of people becoming an Austrian citizen increased by 12.2 per cent from 2018. But who is applying for Austrian citizenship? And where do they originally come from?

Figures from Statistics Austria show that former citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina make up the largest group of people, with 1,183 naturalisations last year. This was closely followed by former citizens of Serbia and Turkey.

Other figures show there is a gender difference in the number of EU citizens becoming Austrian. Data from 2014 to 2018 shows almost two thirds of EU naturalisations were by female applicants. But for third-country nationals, the gender division is almost equal.

The number of British people becoming Austrian has increased in recent years, particularly following the 2016 referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU.

In 2018, 44 former British citizens became Austrian and in 2019, the figure rose to 96.

This figure is minimal compared to neighbouring Germany though, where 14,600 Britons naturalised in 2019. 

The Austrian national flag is seen at the Austrian Parliament next to the statue of Greek goddess Pallas Athena in Vienna on September 5, 2012. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

Who is eligible?

There are several ways that a person can become an Austrian citizen.

First, children born to an Austrian citizen mother automatically become Austrian citizens themselves at birth.

But if only the father is Austrian and the parents are not married, then an acknowledgement of paternity (Vaterschaftsanerkenntnis) can be made for the child to become Austrian. In cases like this, children can also have dual citizenship.

Next, spouses or civil partners of Austrian citizens may be eligible for citizenship by extension if they meet certain requirements, like living together in the same household for five years.

Long-term residents are eligible for naturalisation if they have lived in Austria continuously for at least 10 years. And five of those years must be as a permanent resident.

There are also other eligibility conditions for long-term residents, including a high-level of German language skills and the ability to support yourself financially.

Then there is an exception known as ‘extraordinary merit’ that involves selected people being granted Austrian citizenship, usually on the basis of wealth. There is more to it than just investing money in Austria though.

Applicants must also provide other forms of investment to be eligible, such as the creation of jobs or introducing new technologies to the country. And be willing to give up their original citizenship.

Finally, the most recent change to the process in Austria is the introduction of citizenship for the descendants of Jews that fled the Nazis. This category allows Jews from around the world to become an Austrian citizen without giving up their current passports. 

The first person to benefit from the new law became an Austrian citizen in September. He left Austria in 1944 when he was eight-years-old and has spent most of his life in Israel.

How to apply and costs

The process of applying for Austrian citizenship involves completing an application form and submitting the following documents:

  • Passport/ID card

  • Birth certificate

  • Proof of other citizenship

  • Proof of address

  • Marriage/divorce certificate (if applicable)

Then there is the Integration Test to prove German-language skills at Level B1 and the Citizenship Test. The latter includes questions about the Austrian democratic system and the history of the country, as well as the province where the applicant lives.

More information on how to apply is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to apply for Austrian citizenship

The cost of becoming an Austrian citizen can vary depending on the citizenship route. 

As a guide, the cost of the application is around €130 and the fee for granting citizenship is typically between €1,100 and €1,500. However, this does not include other costs, such as fees for the translation of official documents and taking the German language test.

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

Becoming an Austrian citizen is not cheap or easy, but it is possible and results in becoming a citizen of an EU country with a high standard of living.

For more information about applying for Austrian citizenship, the following websites are useful resources.

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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