Why is it so hard to get Austrian citizenship

Applying for Austrian citizenship for victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants involves proving eligibility. Necessary documents include evidence of the victim’s connection to Austria and personal records of the applicants and their families. As clients we’ve helped in the past can attest, it is so hard to get Austrian citizenship because obtaining all the required documents is difficult for a layman who does not live in Austria or speak German.

In 2019, Austria changed its Citizenship Law, bringing positive news for many Israelis whose ancestors suffered under the Nazis in Austria. These descendants were now eligible for Austrian citizenship.

This change also simplified the process for obtaining citizenship for the descendants (like children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) of Nazi victims. It removed previous strict requirements, such as needing to be fluent in German.

Still, even with these improvements, obtaining Austrian citizenship requires navigating bureaucracy and providing various documents. Gathering all necessary paperwork beforehand and following Austrian authorities’ instructions is crucial to avoid delays in processing the citizenship application.

Why is it so hard to get Austrian citizenship?

The journey to obtaining Austrian citizenship, particularly through the route dedicated to descendants of Nazi persecution victims, poses numerous challenges. The initial stage demands robust evidence to substantiate one’s eligibility for citizenship. This entails confirming that the family member, who suffered under Nazi persecution and forms the basis of the application, held Austrian citizenship, was a resident of Austria, or was stateless but rooted their life in Austrian territory. Additionally, it must be established that they departed Austrian soil or tragically met their demise within its borders, during the span from January 30, 1933, to May 15, 1955.

To validate these claims, specific documents are indispensable. Registration extracts from Austria, residency certificates, educational credentials obtained from Austrian educational institutions (like high school diplomas or academic degrees), as well as marriage or divorce certificates from Austria, can serve as pertinent proof. Furthermore, a victim’s certificate, known as Opferausweis, holds significance for eligible individuals. This certificate was granted to Holocaust survivors officially recognized as such by Austria.

Interestingly, the Austrian government refrains from specifying an exhaustive list of acceptable documents to establish eligibility for citizenship. This approach is designed to facilitate the process for as many persecuted individuals and their descendants as possible. By allowing flexibility in the range of documents, the intention is to support those navigating the path toward securing Austrian citizenship.

What documents do you need to provide to prove eligibility?

When submitting an application for Austrian citizenship, there are specific documents that are required to be provided. Successfully passing the initial eligibility stage is the first step. This involves proving eligibility and principle, which then leads to the submission of a comprehensive naturalization application to the immigration authorities in Austria. This application entails furnishing detailed information about the persecuted individual, along with specifying their relationship to the applicants themselves.

Austrian authorities will create a list of necessary documents based on the unique characteristics of the applicants. These documents might encompass birth certificates, a valid passport from the country of current citizenship, marriage and/or divorce certificates for both the applicants and their parents, confirmation of a clean criminal record, and a certificate indicating discharge from military service. Documents not in German or English require a notarized translation into German.

To ensure a smooth process, it’s crucial to gather the required documents beforehand. Austrian authorities meticulously review citizenship applications, leaving no room for shortcuts. If certain documents are inaccessible, obtaining them in advance becomes paramount. In cases where documents originating in Austria are not in your possession, archival research within Austria can help locate them. This careful and thorough approach underscores the complexity of the process, shedding light on why obtaining Austrian citizenship can be challenging.

What happens when all the documents are submitted?

After submitting a complete citizenship application, Austrian authorities review it. On average, processing the application takes about 12-18 months from submission. Successful applicants are invited to the Austrian embassy to receive a naturalization certificate, officially making them Austrian citizens. With this, they become eligible to apply for an Austrian passport, usually issued within a few months.

Once you’ve acquired Austrian citizenship, will your children face the same lengthy process?

No, children born after you gained citizenship automatically qualify for it. You just need to register them at the Austrian embassy. For those with existing children at the time of gaining citizenship, their children must submit a simpler naturalization application based on their parents’ proven right to citizenship.

Why shouldn’t you delay starting the process?

Austrian citizenship offers advantages like indefinite residency in all 27 EU countries, visa-free entry to the US, and business opportunities in EU nations. Austrian citizens can also benefit from relocation programs in EU-cooperating countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Considering that Austrian citizenship laws may change, as seen with Portugal’s recent reform, it’s crucial to act promptly. Just like the 2022 Portuguese law reform limited citizenship opportunities, Austrian law might change. Therefore, those interested in Austrian citizenship should assess eligibility and start the process as soon as possible.


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