Austrian citizenship For Members

Vienna launches initiative to help stateless people get Austrian citizenship

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Vienna launches initiative to help stateless people get Austrian citizenship
Austrian citizenship application waits in Vienna have halved. But experts say there's still more room for improvement. (© Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

People who do not hold citizenship, 'stateless persons', are entitled to an easier process to naturalise Austrians when they are young, but many don't know about it. The City of Vienna wants to change that.


Austria currently has around 19,000 people who are stateless or whose citizenship is unclear or unknown, and 15,000 of them live in Vienna

People become stateless, for example, due to administrative errors in their country of origin or due to the oppression of minorities in their respective countries. However, the majority of statelessness in Vienna is due to inherited statelessness, meaning neither parent holds a citizenship. 

There are around 12,000 who were born in Vienna and do not have any citizenship. For these people, the naturalisation process in Austria is simplified if they are young - but many do not know the rules and end up missing the window of opportunity.

What is the simplified process?

In order to obtain Austrian citizenship, interested parties must currently have at least € 1,100 available after deduction of housing costs. This high value is particularly difficult for single parents, part-time workers and students. 

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However, after their 18th birthday, people classified as stateless from birth born in Austria are exempt from these strict rules for three years. Until they turn 21, they don't need to prove such an income.

For data privacy reasons, the government cannot reach out to the affected people directly. However, Vienna launched an information website to try to spread the information. 

The first step is booking an appointment with the local citizenship and visa authority (the MA 35 in Vienna). After an initial information meeting, the MA will clarify which information or documents they might need on individual cases. You can then submit your application in person to the authority.

The processing time depends on each case, and even if you meet the requirements, you may not be granted citizenship, the MA 35 said.


Aren't people born in Austria automatically Austrians?

No. Austria follows a "jus sanguinis" concept of citizenship, meaning that citizenship is transferred by blood and not by place of birth. 

A person born to Austrian parents abroad is automatically Austrian, but one born to foreign citizens in Austria receives the citizenship of their parents. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When is dual citizenship allowed in Austria?

If a person born in Austria is stateless, they can undergo this simplified procedure to acquire Austrian citizenship. But even if they already hold citizenship, there are advantages in the naturalisation process. Typically, a person would have to live in Austria for ten years before applying for naturalisation. 

However, if they were born here, that time is shortened to six years. However, they would still need to give up all their other nationalities as Austria does not allow multiple citizenships via naturalisation with very few exceptions.


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