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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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New appointment dates: How Vienna’s MA 35 is speeding up citizenship and immigration requests

Immigrants moving to Vienna have faced long lines and complex bureaucracy in the city citizenship and immigration office, the MA 35. But now the city wants to improve the service - here's how.

New appointment dates: How Vienna's MA 35 is speeding up citizenship and immigration requests

The often criticised, long waiting times at Magistratsabteilung 35 (MA 35) – responsible for immigration and citizenship – will be shortened. In the future, consultations will occur in groups, and the staff will also be increased, the City of Vienna said.

Starting from April 8th, information and consultation dates for groups of up to 170 participants will take place monthly. In addition, the staff will be increased by about 90 additional employees, the responsible city councillor Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) announced in a release on Tuesday. 

This is intended to speed up the procedures.

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

Increased demand

The demand for Austrian citizenship has increased enormously since last year. Around 1,300 people per month are interested in an information appointment at MA 35, whereas a year ago, this number was about 600, it said. 

The goal, Wiederkehr said, is to make procedures more efficient through these measures and to increase the authority’s capacity by 50 percent by fall. “In the long term, however, the citizenship law urgently needs to be modernised and renewed to prevent lengthy procedures,” Wiederkehr demanded.

According to the city, of a total of 20,606 naturalisations in Austria in 2022, almost 70 percent were carried out in Vienna by MA 35. 14,167 persons were naturalised in Vienna in the previous year — a large proportion related to applications for citizenship submitted for Nazi victims and their descendants.

READ ALSO: Why is the number of people becoming Austrian on the rise?

MA 35 has repeatedly been criticised for its long waiting times and difficult accessibility. 

People looking for a first meeting on citizenship requirements usually have to wait about one year – and then from six months to another year to submit the documents. 

READ ALSO: ‘Bring everything you have’: Key tips for dealing with Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

ÖVP and FPÖ react

In a statement, the Vienna centre-right ÖVP welcomed the announced personnel measures. However, its constitutional spokesman Patrick Gasselich questioned whether holding of initial information meetings in the form of group meetings was appropriate. 

He also took issue with the fact that Wiederkehr wanted to “once again shift responsibility to the federal government.”

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

The far-right Freedom Party also criticised Wiederkehr for wanting to “soften” the citizenship law. 

“Citizenship is a valuable asset and must not be allowed to degenerate into a junk good due to incompetent bureaucratic processing,” said Stefan Berger, a member of the Vienna FPÖ parliament. Wiederkehr should “do his homework and put the scandalous conditions in MA 35 in order”, he added.