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EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?

EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?
An Austrian flag flies above a green meadow. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP
Becoming an Austrian citizen is difficult, but by no means impossible. Here's what you need to know.

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.

The spouse of an Austrian national may obtain Austrian citizenship if they have lived continuously in Austria for at least six years and have been married and lived with their partner for at least five years. 

The person obtaining citizenship via marriage must officially renounce their existing citizenship.

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.

READ MORE: Just how good does your German have to be to gain residency and citizenship in Austria?

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, 2020. 

Will Austria change citizenship rules? 

Austria’s opposition SPÖ party (Social Democrats of Austria) is calling for easier access to Austrian citizenship.

As The Local has previously reported, Austria has some of the strictest citizenship requirements in Europe.

The party argues there should be a legal right to citizenship after six years of legal residence – rather than the current ten year requirement – provided all other criteria are met. 

COMPARE: Which European countries have the toughest rules for gaining citizenship?

The SPÖ also want children born in Austria to automatically receive citizenship if one parent has been legally resident in Austria for five years

In cases like this, children would also have dual citizenship.

READ MORE: Will Austria implement easier citizenship rules?

The party also called for federal government fees of (currently €1,115 euros) for naturalisation to be canceled and individual state fees, to be standardised at a correspondingly low level.

Under the new plan, the rules would also be relaxed with regard to receipt of social benefits. 

Citizenship would then be open to all those who have not received social assistance benefits in at least 36 months in the past six years.

In addition, the SPÖ want to replace the existing citizenship exam with a course in which participants would help to “make our basic rights and democracy tangible in a participatory way”.


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