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AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP

How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Austria

People generally have to live in Austria for at least ten years before they can become naturalised Austrians - but in some cases, this can be cut to six in many instances. Here's what you need to know about ways of fast-tracking your citizenship application.

How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Austria
An Austrian and a European flag flutter in the wind. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Austrian citizenship can be granted to people who live in the country through the naturalisation process – which isn’t particularly easy. In fact, Austria has one of Europe’s hardest citizenship acquisition processes.

If you were not born Austrian, then you are entitled to naturalise after “at least ten years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Austria, including at least five years under a residence permit”, according to the federal government.

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

There are also several other requirements, including having “irreproachable integrity” (such as no criminal convictions and no pending criminal proceedings), proving you have sufficient resources to support yourself, having a knowledge of German and a basic understanding of the democratic system, and more.

Everyone applying for citizenship must pass these requirements (with few exceptions). However, the ten-year residence rule comes with many exceptions. Here’s how you can fast track your application:

How to apply for naturalisation after six years

If you fulfil the general conditions for naturalisation, you can apply for it after six years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Austria in any of these cases:

  • You have been lawfully married to an Austrian national for five years and the spouses live in the same household.
  • You possess EU or EEA citizenship.
  • You were born in Austria.
  • Granting citizenship is in the interests of the Republic of Austria “on account of extraordinary accomplishments in the scientific, economic, artistic or sporting fields that have already been achieved or are expected.”
  • You provide proof of sustainable personal integration, which can be done by showing a B2 level of knowledge of German or a B1 level and personal integration (such as three years of voluntary work or professional experience in the educational, social or healthcare sector).

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

austria austrian passport

Austrian citizenship is not easy to get. (© The Local)

How can I apply for Austrian citizenship immediately?

The naturalisation process requires you to live in Austria for a certain number of years. Still, some people are entitled to citizenship regardless of how long they live in the country. In fact, they don’t even need to live in Austria at all.

This is the case for people with “Austrian blood” (Jus Sanguinis) and descendants of the victims of the National Socialism (Nazi) regime.

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. Furthermore, descendants of victims of the Nazi regime can also maintain their previous citizenship.

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POLITICS

Reader question: Can I vote in Austria’s presidential elections?

On October 9th, Austria will vote to elect a new president, but who can vote in these national elections?

Reader question: Can I vote in Austria's presidential elections?

Austria’s presidential election will take place on October 9th, with seven candidates vying to take over at the Hofburg – the official workplace of the country’s president.

According to opinion polls, the favourite to win is the current president Alexander Van der Bellen, who is running for reelection.

READ ALSO: Austrian presidential elections: Who are the seven candidates?

A presidential candidate must be an Austrian citizen, be eligible to vote in the National Assembly and be at least 35 years old on election day.

Members of ruling dynasties or families that reigned in the past are not eligible to run in the presidential election. This is to avoid a return to monarchy in Austria via the role of the Federal President.

Who can vote in these elections?

The only people allowed to vote in Austrian federal elections are Austrian citizens aged 16 or above.

That means foreigners – even those born and raised in Austria, are not entitled to choose a new president. Unless, of course, they take up Austrian citizenship (usually giving up their original citizenship).

Since Austria has a large proportion of foreigners in the population, many people will not be able to vote in these elections.

READ ALSO: ‘I pay taxes in Austria’: Anger as foreigners barred from Vienna council vote

In fact, some 18 percent of residents (or 1.4 million people) in Austria over the age of 16 do not have the right to vote because they are not citizens, with the highest concentration of ineligible people in Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg.

In comparison, 20 years ago, Austria had just 580,000 people without the right to vote.

Statistics Austria data evaluated by the APA shows that around 30 percent of the voting-age population in Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg are not entitled to vote. In Linz and Graz, it is about 25 percent.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s presidential election work?

However, there are some smaller communities in Austria where the number of people without the right to vote is even higher.

In Jungholz in Tyrol, 66 percent of the population are not eligible, followed by 51 percent in Mittelberg in Vorarlberg. Kittsee in Burgenland and Wolfsthal in Lower Austria also have high proportions of Slovakian residents who cannot vote.

Austrian citizenship

Currently, in Austria, if someone wants to take up citizenship via naturalisation, they must undergo an extensive and expensive process and fulfil specific criteria.

Generally, there needs to be at least ten years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Austria. But there are exceptions for those with citizenship of an EU or EEA country, those born in Austria, or married to an Austrian, for example.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

The main hurdles, however, include having to give up any other citizenships, as Austria doesn’t allow for dual citizenship in naturalisation cases with few exceptions, and the payment of a high fee, which depends on the municipality, but could reach thousands of euros.

And though the topic of easing the requirements has come up several times in Austria, the country doesn’t seem any closer to changing its citizenship laws.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Where in Europe can non-EU foreigners vote in local elections?

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