IN NUMBERS: Who are the new Austrian citizens?

The number of people receiving Austrian citizenship through naturalisation processes is increasing. Here's a look at some stats about the new citizens and where they are from originally.

IN NUMBERS: Who are the new Austrian citizens?
An Austrian and a European flag flutter in the wind. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

From January to the end of September of 2022, Austrian citizenship was granted to 11,155 people, including 3,017 (27 percent) people living abroad, according to data from Statistik Austria

There were 45.3 percent more naturalisations during this time than from January to September 2021 (7,676 naturalisations), and 46.6 percent more than in the same period before the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2019 (7,610 naturalisations).

“The strong increase in naturalisations of 45.3 percent compared to the first three quarters of the previous year is mainly due to the naturalisations of victims of the Nazi regime and their descendants, who account for almost 30 percent of the newly naturalised persons,” said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas.

People persecuted by the Nazi regime and their descendants have the possibility of naturalisation without having to give up their previous citizenship in return. 

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

From January to September 2022, 3,022 people (of whom 2,992 live abroad) received Austrian citizenship under this legal title, corresponding to 27.1 percent of all naturalisations in these three quarters.

Individuals naturalised under this legislation are most often nationals of Israel (1,182 or 10.6 percent of all naturalised in the first nine months of 2022), the USA (718 or 6.4 percent) and the UK (640 or 5.7 percent). 

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Could Austria ever change the rules to allow dual citizenship?

Naturalised people for other reasons (a total of 8,133 persons from January to September 2022) were most frequently nationals of Syria (834 or 7.5 percent), Turkey (810 or 7.3 percent) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (614 or 5.5 percent).

Half of the naturalisations in the first three quarters of 2022 were women  (50.6 percent), and about a third were minors (31.4 percent). Almost a quarter of the newly naturalised persons were born in Austria (2,683 or 24.1 percent).

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

In eight federal provinces, more people were naturalised from January to September 2022 than in the same period of the previous year. 

The relative increases were highest in Vorarlberg (+47.4 percent to 426 naturalisations), followed by Carinthia (+46.0 percent to 419), Vienna (+33.6 percent to 3,290) and Styria (+31.0 percent to 740). 

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Austria

In Burgenland (-7.6 percent to 121), there were fewer naturalisations than in the previous year. However, even compared to the first three quarters of 2019, before the Covid pandemic, there were more naturalisations in seven provinces, led by Carinthia (+86.2 percent to 419 naturalisations). 

Only in Vienna (-2.2 percent to 3,290) and Upper Austria (-4.9 percent to 993) there were fewer naturalisations compared to 2019.

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‘Inhuman speech’: Austria’s far-right blasted for wanting to tie social benefits to German skills

Politicians in Austria criticised a far-right FPÖ leader who called for a suspension of citizenship granted to non-Europeans and for the tying of social benefits to proof of German skills.

'Inhuman speech': Austria's far-right blasted for wanting to tie social benefits to German skills

Austrian politicians criticised Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) member Maximilian Krauss in Vienna after he demanded proof of German as a prerequisite for social benefits and asked for “no citizenship to be granted to people who come from outside Europe”.

Jörg Konrad, a member of the liberal party NEOS, denounced the “inhuman speech” and said that the sole criterion for receiving the benefits was “need”. “Serious politics and striving for solutions simply cannot be expected from the FPÖ,” Konrad said.

During a Vienna Parliament session on Wednesday, Krauss, chairman of the FPÖ, pointed out that more than two-thirds of the total 260,000 people “collecting” minimum benefits in Austria lived in Vienna. 

READ ALSO: What measures against foreigners is Austria’s far-right trying to take?

According to him, the majority of them, almost 60 percent, did not have Austrian citizenship and were “making themselves comfortable at the taxpayers’ expense” in Vienna.

“The majority of minimum income recipients were social migrants unwilling to work”, Krauss said.

The FPÖ representative stated: “By now, we know that neither rocket scientists nor the urgently needed skilled workers came to our country in 2015”.

Krauss called for obligatory German language skills for tenants of municipal apartments or proof of German as a prerequisite for social benefits, such as the minimum income. He also demanded that Austrian citizenship should not be granted to people who come from outside Europe and said that immigration or family reunifications must be slowed down or suspended.

What is the ‘minimum income’?

The issue was raised because, according to Krauss, migrants came to Austria and, in particular, to Vienna, looking to live off of the country’s social system and the city’s “Minimum Income” (Mindestsicherung).

According to the City of Vienna, the “minimum income” is financial support to secure the cost of living and the rent of Viennese with little or no income. Only Austrians, EU or EEA citizens, persons entitled to asylum or third-country nationals who are long-term residents can apply for this assistance. 

The applicant must also generally prove their willingness to work via registration with the labour office AMS. In addition, there are several other preconditions and required documents to apply for assistance.

The monthly payment amount varies according to each person’s conditions, but, in 2022, it’s not more than € 978 per person, with possible extra payouts of up to €117 per minor child and up to € 176 if the person has a disability.

A sign reading ‘control’ (‘Kontrolle’) stands on the road at the German-Austrian border near Lindau, southern Germany. (Photo by STEFAN PUCHNER / DPA / AFP)

‘Xenophobic instincts’

“The minimum income serves as a social safety net against poverty, especially for children, single parents and people who are particularly at risk of poverty”, said centre-left SPÖ member Kurt Wagner. 

He went further: “The FPÖ rarely contribute to solving a problem but are often the problem themselves because of their populism and xenophobic instincts”.

READ ALSO: Is Austria’s Freedom Party a ‘far-right’ party?

Green politician Viktoria Spielmann said that the minimum income is enough to ensure the most basic needs: “Have you ever had to make do with such an amount? To put the amount into perspective, rents in Vienna averaged €500. So the minimum income was the least that would secure people’s existence.” 

For her, calling recipients “lazy” or unwilling to work is unfair.

So, how much do foreigners take up?

In 2021, 135,649 Viennese received the minimum income, according to Stadt Wien data. The number of non-Austrians receiving the payments was 77,746, accounting for about 57 percent of recipients. 

However, the City of Vienna mentioned that the Austrian capital has a higher proportion of foreign residents and cited a study that concluded that compared to Austrians, migrants from non-European countries had more difficulty getting jobs, even after years of living in Austria.

READ MORE: Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

Additionally, foreigners also bring money into the Austrian economy. 

Figures from Austria’s Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer) showed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs. 

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, but they are also an economic factor.”