SHARE
COPY LINK

AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP

Austria improves nationality law for descendants of Nazi victims

An amendment had to be passed to remedy "unacceptable differences in treatment" of the descendants of Holocaust victims.

austria parliament house flag
The Austrian National flag hovers on the Austrian Parliament on a clear day in Vienna on April 8, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

The Austrian parliament has amended the 2019 Citizenship Act to correct “inequalities” faced by descendants of Nazi victims who fled the country under Hitler’s Third Reich.

The legislation came into effect last September allowing descendants of up to three generations of victims of Nazi persecution to reclaim an Austrian passport in a simplified process.

However, the amendment passed unanimously Thursday night had to be brought in to remedy “unacceptable differences in the treatment” of the descendants under the 2019 act, member of parliament Sabine Schatz said in a statement.

“When the act came into force, inequalities were noted that have been corrected,” she added.

Political expert Barbara Serloth, who was involved in the amendment project, told AFP that descendants of people “killed by the Nazis”, for example in Mauthausen concentration camp, were not eligible.

Nor were descendants of those who committed suicide or had citizenship of a country other than the nations of the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

MP Martin Engelberg cited cases of people who could not meet the requirements because their grandmothers had lost their Austrian nationality when they married and moved to a different country.

READ ALSO: How descendants of victims of Nazism can apply for Austrian citizenship

The women may have lost their nationality “deliberately”, he said, but that was “to escape persecution”.

The amendment also takes into account descendants of survivors who decided not to return to Austria after Hitler took power in 1933, for fear of persecution.

The 2019 act saw 16,200 people take Austrian nationality in 2021, an 80 percent increase in the numbers compared to the previous year — and half of them were descendants of victims of the Nazis.

Some 16 percent of the naturalisations were Israelis, 10 percent Americans, and seven percent British.

Until 2019, only Holocaust survivors themselves could obtain Austrian nationality.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP

Why has naturalisation in Austria doubled in 2022 – and who are the new citizens?

Almost 5,000 people became Austrian citizens in the first three months of 2022, more than twice the year before.

Why has naturalisation in Austria doubled in 2022 - and who are the new citizens?

The first three months of 2022 saw 4,865 people being awarded Austrian citizenship through naturalisation processes.

That’s more than twice as many naturalisations as in the same quarter of the previous year (2,402 naturalisations), according to data released this Thursday, 19th, by Statistik Austria.

While Covid may have made an impact, when compared to the last year before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of naturalisations surged by 76 per cent.

The Austrian organisation says that the increase is primarily due to the entry into effect of the 2020 amendment to the Austrian Citizenship Act, allowing descendants of victims of the National Socialist (Nazi) regime to apply for dual citizenship.

READ ALSO: How descendants of victims of Nazism can apply for Austrian citizenship

“Under this legal title, descendants of victims of the Nazi regime have had the possibility of naturalisation since September 2020 without giving up their previous citizenship in return.”, Statistik Austria explained.

In the first quarter of the year, 1,927 people received Austrian citizenship according to the new amendment, corresponding to 39.6 per cent of all naturalisations in the quarter.

Almost all people naturalising through the new rules live outside of Austria (1,911).

Most are citizens of Israel (16.1 per cent), followed by the United Kingdom (8.5 per cent) and the United States (8.4 per cent).

Who are the new Austrian nationals?

According to Statistik Austria, the most recent Austrian citizens were previously from Turkey (7 per cent), Syria (6.2 per cent), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (4.9 per cent).

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

About half the naturalisations were women (49.7 per cent), and the proportion of people under 18 years old was 31.7 per cent.

About one-fifth of the newly naturalised had been born in Austria (21.2 per cent).

Eight states saw an increase in the number of naturalisations compared to the year before, with the most noticeable increase in Vorarlberg (up by 96.1 per cent), followed by Vienna (64.5 per cent) and Tyrol (54.3 per cent). Only in Salzburg, where there were 120 naturalisations, there was a decrease (by 4 per cent) in numbers.

Austrian naturalisation rules

Austria is considered a relatively difficult country to get naturalised. Not only do people need to prove language and integration, but it can get expensive, with applicants who are awarded the citizenship having to pay sometimes more than € 2,000.

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

Another thing that keeps people from applying is the obligation that naturalised citizens – with very few exceptions – give up their previous citizenship.

This is because Austria does not allow double citizenship for naturalised citizens unless they are descendants of the victims of the Holocaust or are granted an exemption.

SHOW COMMENTS