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IMMIGRATION

TEST: Is your German good enough for Austrian citizenship?

If you are planning on becoming an Austrian citizen you are going to need to be able to prove basic competency in German comprehension. Would your language skills cut it?

school exam test
Is your German good enough to pass the citizenship test? (Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash)

From discussing the subtext in a Thomas Mann novel to just being able to order a Käsekrainer in your local Würstelstand, there’s a world of difference in the levels of German attained by foreigners in Austria, and of course most people improve the longer they stay here.

But gaining citizenship requires formal qualifications, so we’ve put together some sample questions to give you an idea of the level required. 

This article relates solely to your language ability – applying for citizenship has several other requirements, including having to demonstrate knowledge of Austrian culture and history via the citizenship test.

The current citizenship rules in place require German at level B1 on the six-level scale of competence laid down in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

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

So what does B1 mean?

B1 on the CEFR scale is defined as being able to “understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.”

A B1 candidate “can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken” and can also “produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.”

In other words, you are not required to be able to speak perfect, error-free German, only to be able to make yourself understood and understand any replies you are given. 

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

Tests

Testing in Austria for language competency as part of a citizenship application is handled at the state level. Therefore there might be some small variation in the requirements from state to state. It is important to check with your local authority on just what certificate is recognised.

Since July 1, 2011, the Austria’s integration fund ÖIF offers a new German test for levels A2 and B1: The German Test for Austria (DTÖ). This is a German test modeled on a test from Germany that was developed by the Goethe-Institut e.V and telc GmbH and revised for Austria by telc by order of the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF).

The tasks are designed for the special communication needs of immigrants and are practical and activity-oriented.

The DTÖ considers individual language learning processes and, in doing so, allows participants to demonstrate their actual language skills through the two levels A2 and B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (GER).  

The nitty gritty

The DTÖ tests German skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The entire test consists of a 100 minute written section and an oral section of about 16 minutes, which can either be done alone or in pairs. 

In addition to the dates offered by certified course providers, the ÖIF offers additional dates for the German Test for Austria (DTÖ) at ÖIF sites in Austria. The current test dates at ÖIF can be found here. Here you can also sign up for a test date online.

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

The new test fee for the New ÖIF Test and the DTÖ is €130.00 per attempt. If you register for a date online, you will receive a request for payment. The fee must be transferred to ÖIF’s bank account at least 10 days before the test date.

Reading (45 minutes)

The following questions come from a section of a sample test by the Goethe Institute. The text, which you can find here, talks about a project to create electricity in a village by using biogas. You need to decide which of the following options makes the statement true.

In diesem Text geht es um… 

  1. die neue Technologie von Eckhard Meier?
  2. die umweltfreundliche Stromproduktion in Feldheim? 
  3. einen Studiengang an der Universität Göttingen?

Die Wissenschaftler wollten zeigen, dass… 

  1. ein ganzes Dorf von modernen Energien leben kann? 
  2. eine Bio-Gasanlage mehr Strom produziert, als ein Dorf braucht? 
  3. man größere Mengen Strom sparen kann?

Damit die Idee auch in anderen Dörfern funktioniert… 

  1. benötigt man viel Geld. 
  2. braucht man genug Platz für die Technik. 
  3. muss die Bevölkerung dafür sein

Listening (25 minutes)

For this section you will have to listen to audio of people talking in German. The format of this section varies: for example, it could be a news report, an interview or a recorded discussion.

Here are some sample questions from a past B1 paper, in which you hear five short texts at the start of the audio (listen here). You have to decide which of the following statements about the texts are true.

Text 1 

Frau Stein soll… 

  1. die Chipkarte mitbringen?
  2. zehn Euro bezahlen?
  3. Zurückrufen?

Text 2

Herr Thomas… 

  1. möchte, dass Frau Brahms einen neuen Vertrag abschließt?
  2. braucht Zeugnisse von Frau Brahms?
  3. ruft später noch einmal an?

Text 3 

Auf der Autobahn gibt es Stau wegen… 

  1. einer Baustelle? 
  2. des Berufsverkehrs? 
  3. eines Unfalls?

Text 4 

Welcher Zug fällt aus? Der Zug nach … 

  1. Bern?
  2. Genf?
  3. Lausanne?

Text 5 

Vorausgesagt werden… 

  1. Gewitter an der Elbe?
  2. Temperaturen unter 10 Grad?
  3. Starke Regenfälle im Westen?

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

Writing (30 minutes)

In the written section of the exam you are required to compose a text and are given two choices.

One example of a text could be:

Sie suchen ein gebrauchtes Auto. Im Supermarkt haben Sie eine Anzeige gesehen: Herr Brandmeyer will sein Auto verkaufen. Sie wollen mehr Informationen und schreiben eine E-mail.

Schreiben Sie etwas zu folgenden Punkten:

  • Grund für Ihr Schreiben
  • Preis?
  • Alter/Zustand?
  • wann/wo anschauen?

Spoken (16 minutes)

The spoken component is divided into three parts. In the first one, you should talk about yourself for around two minutes (Name, Geburtsort, Wohnort, Arbeit/Beruf, Familien, Sprachen). In the second part, you should talk about an experience based on a picture you receive from the examiners.

In the third part, both participants receive a paper with an example of an event or meeting and should discuss details about it and arrange for the meeting to happen.

You can find the full exam paper with the correct answers (at the bottom) HERE.

And you can find sample tests of the DTÖ HERE.

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AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP

Austrian citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a driving offence?

Naturalisation processes may be on the rise in Austria, but citizenship is still hard to get, and any mistake could mean you miss out on the opportunity. Here's what you need to know.

Austrian citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a driving offence?

Becoming a citizen of another country is a big decision, especially in a country with many requirements, rules and fees like Austria. For example, in order to apply for naturalisation, you need to have lived in Austria for at least six years (or up to ten in some cases) and must meet another range of criteria.

The requirements fall into several broad categories, one of which is that you must have no criminal convictions and there are no pending proceedings against you.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent and how to apply for it?

Additionally, people who have received one or more administrative penalties in Austria are also barred from applying for at least five years if at least one of those penalties incurred fines of more than €1,000.

Administrative violations include drinking and driving, running a red light or stop sign and, yes, speeding. If your speeding fine totalled more than €1,000, – meaning you have likely been well beyond the speed limit – you need to pay it and wait five years before applying for citizenship. 

How high are speeding fines in Austria?

There are no specific amounts that people need to pay for each offence. Instead, the law stipulates a range, and a judge will decide on a case by case basis.

Exceeding the maximum speed limit will result in a fine from €300 to €5,000 with the amount depending on aggravating factors such as how far above the speed limit the driver was and whether they had previous speeding offences.

READ ALSO: Does Austria have a street car racing problem?

Other offences that can lead to fines of more than €1,000 include driving with an alcohol content above the limit, driving in dangerous conditions such as by participating in illegal street races, failing to stop to provide assistance after a traffic accident and others. 

Other requirements

Being “blameless” is just one requirement for naturalisation in Austria. The applicant must also prove that they speak German to an adequate degree and that they are integrated (they need to show a German certificate and pass a citizenship test).

Additionally, you are barred from applying for citizenship if you have received minimum income support for more than 36 months within the last six years. 

You (or your partner) also need to have a regular income at the moment of application that “sufficiently secures your livelihood”. For a single person living alone, this means your net monthly income minus regular monthly expenses (such as rent and loan payments) needs to be higher than €1,030.49 (2022 numbers).

If the person has one child, the amount goes up to €1,189.49.

READ ALSO: How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

Those are very high standards in a country where the average net income is €2,161.99 and rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Vienna city centre averages €915. Furthermore, there are also costs to the citizenship process. In the capital, people can expect to pay between €1,200 and €1,500 for the bureaucracy – not adding values for any translation needed, for example.

Finally, a significant requirement, one that certainly puts off many, is that the person naturalising must give up their original citizenship. This is because Austria will only accept dual citizenship after naturalisation in extremely rare cases.

READ ALSO: Austrian citizenship: Do you really have to renounce your original nationality?

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