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9 Oct, 2023

Danger to public peace, order and security – citizenship denied

Can the awarding of Austrian citizenship be denied even though all the conditions for granting are actually met? Yes, if this would mean a danger to public peace, order or security.

Abdul has been living in Austria for almost 10 years as a recognised Convention refugee. He is excellently integrated, has passed a German language exam at C1 level and has been working for several years as a branch manager of a large retail chain.

Abdul has applied for Austrian citizenship. Although he fulfils all the requirements for this, such as a sufficiently long, continuous and lawful stay in Austria, a clean record and a secure livelihood, he is denied Austrian citizenship. The authorities justify this on the grounds that he poses a threat to public peace, order and security. What happened?

When can the granting of Austrian citizenship be denied?

One of the conditions for granting Austrian citizenship is that the applicant has an affirmative attitude towards the Republic of Austria and does not represent a danger to public peace, order and security or other constitutionally protected public interests.

In this context, the citizenship authority examines whether the applicant has committed criminal offences in the past. It does not matter what kind of law has been violated and whether these are judicially punishable acts or administrative offences. It is not even necessary that there has been a final conviction or that the penalty has actually been imposed.

The examination depends on the overall behaviour of the applicant. This is determined by his character profile, which results from the type of offence committed. It also depends on the seriousness of the offence committed and how long it has been since the time of the authority’s decision. The shorter the period of good conduct between the offence and the granting of Austrian citizenship, the more likely this will constitute an obstacle to the granting of Austrian citizenship?

Which offences are considered a threat to public peace, order and security?

The most frequent reason for refusing to grant Austrian citizenship is traffic offences. On the one hand, it depends on the severity of the violation of the Road Traffic Act, as well as on its frequency. A one-time fine for exceeding the maximum speed limit will usually not constitute an obstacle to awarding, especially since this is often punished in the form of an anonymous order anyway and, if paid in due time, will not appear again at a later date. Administrative penalties for serious traffic offences, such as excessive speeding, driving through a red light, driving under the influence of alcohol or driving without a licence will in most cases prevent the awarding of Austrian citizenship.

Apart from traffic offences, all other criminal offences will also be included in the assessment. Criminal convictions to a custodial sentence are an obstacle to the granting of citizenship anyway, but also offences after which there was no conviction or punishment because they could be settled out of court or were discontinued will be assessed in the citizenship procedure within the framework of an overall assessment of conduct. This means that the mere fact that administrative and or/ criminal proceedings were conducted against an applicant in the past may be sufficient that the awarding of Austrian citizenship could be denied.

Consequence for applicants

Abdul worked as a taxi driver for several years before his current job. In the course of this job he received numerous administrative fines for several minor violations of the Road Traffic Act. The last fine he received was about 2 years ago with his private car for unauthorised parking in a no parking and no stopping zone. The competent citizenship authority could therefore not arrive at a positive future prognosis with regard to Abdul’s character picture and had to assume that he would continue to disregard the provisions of the Road Traffic Act in the future. However, if Abdul now behaves inconspicuously for several years and does not commit any new traffic offences, a new application for Austrian citizenship may be successful.

Dr. Alexander Raidl, BA

Pramergasse 21, 1090 Wien

Pramergasse 21
1090 Wien

© Dr. Alexander Raidl. All rights reserved.
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