The granting of Austrian citizenship is linked to a number of prerequisites. In addition to a sufficiently long residence in Austria and some general legal requirements (such as exemption from punishment for serious offenses or an affirmative attitude towards the Republic of Austria), a sufficiently secure livelihood must be proven. How this is calculated and which income and expenses have to be taken into account is answered here.
The legal requirements
Austrian citizenship may only be granted to persons who are able to cover their living expenses in Austria by means of an adequate income and without recourse to social welfare benefits and who have sufficiently secured this income.
The Austrian Citizenship Act contains a precise regulation on how the authority has to calculate whether an applicant’s livelihood is sufficiently secured. For this purpose, the applicant must have fixed and regular own income from gainful employment or other income, legal maintenance claims or insurance benefits. The applicant must prove these claims for a total period of 36 months within the last 6 years prior to the application, whereby the last six months prior to the application are included in any case.
This means that in order to prove that he or she has sufficient means of livelihood, an applicant must pick out the best 30 months of the last 5.5 years prior to application and submit the relevant proof of income to the authority for this purpose. In addition, there should also be sufficiently high income in the last six months before the application, because these months are in any case included in the assessment by the authority.
How high must the regular income be?
How high does the regular income have to be for the authorities to recognise it as a secure livelihood? The answer to this question can be found in the General Social Insurance Act (ASVG). There, the reference rates for the entitlement to a compensatory supplement to pensions from the pension insurance are regulated. The applicant’s income, without recourse to social assistance benefits, must at least correspond to the average of the reference rates of the last three years before the application in a period of (the best) 36 months in the last 6 years before the application. These reference rates change annually. In 2021, the reference rate for single persons is € 1,000.48, for married couples € 1,578.36 and for each child an additional € 154.37.
How can I prove that I have a secure livelihood?
Wage slips, wage confirmations, work contracts, preliminary contracts under labour law, confirmations of pension or other insurance benefits, proof of receipt of childcare allowance or proof of own assets in a sufficient amount can be submitted as proof of secure livelihood. However, maintenance claims are only taken into account if they are legally justified. Benefits from maintenance contracts or voluntary allowances and gifts of money (even if these are made regularly), on the other hand, cannot be used as proof of a secure livelihood.
How are regular expenses taken into account?
The applicant’s own fixed and regular income is reduced by regular expenses. These regular expenses include rent, loan payments, garnishments and maintenance payments to persons not living in the joint household. These regular expenses are to be deducted from the net income, leaving a so-called “free ward” (for 2021: € 304.45), which is not taken into account when calculating the regular expenses. Thus, only the regular expenses reduce the income that exceeds this “free ward”. If childcare allowance is received in the last six months prior to the application, subsistence is considered to be sufficiently secured in this period in any case.
A simplified example of the calculation
If a claimant (single) has regular monthly income of € 2,000.00 net and regular expenses of € 800.00, in a first step the “free ward” has to be deducted from the regular expenses.
Regular expenses (for rent, loan, etc)……..€ 800.00
Deduct free ward……………………………………..- € 304.45
Regular expenses to be deducted………..€ 495.55
In a second step, the regular expenses calculated in this way are to be deducted from the regular net income.
Regular net income…………………………………€ 2,000.00
Regular expenses to be deducted………- € 495,55
Regular own income…………………………….€ 1,504.45
As the regular monthly income of the applicant is higher than € 1,000.48, his livelihood would be sufficiently secured in this month. However, if the applicant would also have to provide for a wife with this income and with the same expenses, the threshold of € 1,578.36 would not be reached in this month.
Are there also exceptions?
Persons who, due to a disability or a permanent, serious illness, are impaired in earning their regular livelihood are exempt from the obligation to prove this according to the described requirements. These restrictions must in any case be proven by a medical certificate.
The exact calculation of a secure livelihood as a prerequisite for the granting of Austrian citizenship can therefore be very complicated, especially if the income comes from different sources or is offset by high regular expenses. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, it is therefore advisable to check carefully before applying for the granting of Austrian citizenship whether all legally required prerequisites, such as the sufficiently secure livelihood, are actually fulfilled to the required extent.