Austrian citizenship For Members

EXPLAINED: Who is eligible for a shorter wait for Austrian citizenship?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Who is eligible for a shorter wait for Austrian citizenship?
Austrian citizenship usually requires a ten-year mandatory residence period - but there are ways to shorten that. Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

In standard cases, foreigners have to be resident in Austria for ten years before they’re eligible for citizenship – one of the longest waits around. But some people could qualify sooner.


Unless someone is eligible to claim Austrian citizenship by descent – either normally or through descent from Nazi victims who had Austrian citizenship stripped from them – they’ll have to naturalise if they wish to take up Austrian citizenship.

In most cases, that involves needing to have been resident in Austria for ten years – and giving up your other passport. Most of the time, you can only shorten this wait if you fall into certain special circumstances that are typically out of your control.

But there’s at least one way you can shorten the ten-year wait no matter who you are.

EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?

Passing a B2 German Exam

To take up Austrian citizenship after the standard residence period of ten years, you’ll need to prove that you can speak German at the B1 level.

But if you can pass a test that’s just one level higher – B2 – you become eligible for Austrian citizenship after six years instead of ten.

school exam test

Passing the B2 German language test is the most straightforward way for any Austrian resident - regardless of background - to shorten their wait to citizenship. (Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash)

This shortcut is notable because it’s the most straightforward. It’s also one of the only Austrian citizenship shortcuts that’s open to basically everyone, no matter what other factors might be in their background – whether that’s marital status, profession, previous nationality, or something else.

Most other routes to fast-track Austrian citizenship require an applicant to have something in their background that’s difficult or impossible for the applicant to control – such as having another EU nationality or being married to an Austrian.

A1 to C2: What are the different levels in German and how do I reach them?


Evidence of significant personal or professional integration

If someone has been resident in Austria for at least six years, they can be granted citizenship if the Austrian state deems it to be in the interests of Austria due to that person’s extraordinary scientific, economic, artistic, or sporting achievements.

Other people who can demonstrate significant integration can take up Austrian citizenship after six years if they pass a B1 German test and have given at least three years of volunteer work with a non-profit in Austria, have at least three years of experience in the social, healthcare, or education sectors, or have devoted at least three years to representing others – for example on a works council or on a parenting association.

So teachers, for example, are entitled to a shorter wait period – as a people who’ve put in key volunteer time – again providing that they can still pass the B1 German test.

Again though, anyone who can pass the B2 German test becomes eligible for Austrian citizenship after six years without having to prove any volunteer commitments or work in the social or educational fields.

It thus remains the most universal way of shortening someone’s wait for Austrian citizenship.

READ ALSO: Five surprising Austrian citizenship rules you should know about


Being married to an Austrian

This way of shortening your wait for Austrian citizenship is – at least when pursued honestly – not something most applicants have much control over. Obviously, we don’t typically choose the nationalities of the people we fall in love with.

If, however, you are married to an Austrian – it comes with a few extra rights, including on citizenship.

Two golden wedding rings on a rock

Those who are married to Austrians aren't immediately eligible for citizenship - but they can get it after a shorter waiting period. Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

If you have been married to your Austrian and lived in the same house of at least five of the previous six years – you become eligible for Austrian citizenship after six years instead of ten.

You’ll still have to fulfill the other general requirements though, such as having a clean criminal record and passing a B1 German exam.

EXPLAINED: What rights do I have if I’m married to an Austrian citizen?


Being born in Austria or being an EU national

Birth in Austria doesn’t automatically confer Austrian nationality. However, someone who was born in the Alpine republic without Austrian nationality can claim citizenship after six years of residence rather than ten.

The same is true of EU nationals plus those from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland who have been resident in Austria for at least six years – regardless of whether they were born here.

Again though, people applying under these categories still have to fulfill the general requirements – such as passing a B1 German exam and will likely have to give up their other citizenship.

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



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