13 Jan, 2021

Award of Austrian Citizenship to descendants of persecutees of the Nazi regime

1. As of September 1, 2020, an amendment to the Austrian Citizenship Act entered into force which enables direct descendants of persons who had to leave the country before May 15, 1955, because of persecution by organs of the NSDAP or by authorities of the Third Reich or because of their advocacy of the democratic Republic of Austria, to be granted Austrian Citizenship without having to give up their previous citizenship.

Extension of the application possibilities

2. The recent amendment to the law extended the possibility of obtaining Austrian Citizenship to nationals of one of the successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy or stateless persons who had their main residence in Austria and who had to leave the country due to persecution by the Nazi regime. These persons can obtain Austrian Citizenship by notifying competent authority. Furthermore, this possibility has now been extended to descendants in direct descending line and adopted children who were already adopted as minors in place of children.

3. The ancestor to whom the descendant refers in his application must be considered a persecuted person within the meaning of this law. This person must have acquired Austrian Citizenship or at least have been able to acquire it. In view of the fact that the majority of those persecuted during the Nazi era have already died, the authorities may not make disproportionately high demands on the comprehensibility of these requirements.

Refusal to award citizenship

4. The reasons for which Austrian Citizenship cannot be granted are basically the same as those that apply to the granting of Austrian citizenship for other reasons. Accordingly, citizenship may not be granted to persons who have been convicted of serious criminal offenses or serious financial offenses, or to persons who pose a threat to public peace, order, and security, or who are affiliated with extremist or terrorist groups.

The importance of the National Fund in the application process

5. In order for an applicant to prove his or her entitlement to Austrian Citizenship, he or she must present certificates and documents from which his or her entitlement can be derived. Since this may involve considerable difficulties, the law expressly provides that the authority may consult the National Fund of the Republic as an expert. The task of the National Fund is to render payments to victims of National Socialism, in particular to those who had previously received little or no compensation; to those in need of special assistance, or those whose personal circumstances warrant relief. The National Fund also supports both survivors of the National Socialist regime and their families by offering to carry out family research and thus already has comprehensive documentation at its disposal in order to be able to provide the relevant evidence for a claim for the granting of Austrian Citizenship to the competent authority.

Competent authority

6. If the requirements are met, the applicant acquires Austrian citizenship retroactively as of the date of notification to the authority. In principle, the competent authority is the provincial government of the province in which the applicant has his or her main residence. Persons who do not live in Austria can submit the notification to the Austrian representative authority responsible for their main place of residence. The latter will then forward the application to the competent authority in Austria.

Dr. Alexander Raidl, BA

Rotenturmstraße 17/10-12, 1010 Wien

Rotenturmstraße 17/10-12
1010 Wien

© Dr. Alexander Raidl. All rights reserved.
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