Austrian citizenship for Holocaust survivors
Last September, the Austrian Parliament announced that it would facilitate and ease the acquisition of Austrian citizenship for Holocaust survivors and their descendants. Thousands of descendants of Austrian Holocaust survivors, living in Israel and abroad, will now be able to obtain this citizenship without fear of losing any additional existing citizenship. Their family members will also be eligible for the benefits of a European passport / Austrian citizenship. If you are a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, contact us to obtain Austrian citizenship. The law will take effect in September 2020, but applicants may start the process of collecting documents and preparing the application in advance.
Our law offices specialize in emigration law and obtaining citizenship in North America (USA and Canada), Britain, and Europe (Portugal). We offer a variety of tools, experience, and professional specialties to assist you in obtaining Austrian citizenship.
Which descendants of Holocaust survivors are eligible for Austrian citizenship?
The new law applies to direct descendants of Holocaust survivors; that is: children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It should be noted that the law applies to non-Jews as well as Jews.
“Holocaust survivors”, according to the Austrian law, refers to all victims of Nazi persecution. That means survivors of death camps, those who hid out during the war or fled from the Nazis, etc.
The new law vs. the old law – eligibility for Austrian citizenship
The current law recognizes descendants of Holocaust survivors as eligible for Austrian citizenship only if their ancestors left Austria before 1945. In contrast, the new law, to take effect in September 2020, will recognize descendants of Holocaust survivors who left the country up to 15.5.1955 as eligible for citizenship.
In addition, the law states that anyone born in Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, or Slovenia, but who lived in Austria up to 1955, will also be eligible for Austrian citizenship.
How does the new law differ from the old one?
As noted above, the law allows Holocaust survivors who left Austria up to 1955 to receive Austrian citizenship, unlike the old law, which only applied up to 1945. Moreover, the new law also allows descendants whose mothers were Holocaust survivors to obtain citizenship. This is in contrast to the old law, which only granted citizenship to descendants whose fathers were Holocaust survivors.
Many victims after the war were left alone, orphaned, ill, and impoverished. For these reasons, they were barred from emigrating from Austria and were forced to remain there in order to recover their health, search for lost family members, etc. The new law grants citizenship to descendants of those victims who remained in Austria up to 1955.
What is more, the antisemitic law of 1921 has been revoked. This law had previously denied Austrian citizenship Jewish populations from the Danubian principalities (Moldova and Romania).
Who is not allowed to petition for Austrian citizenship for Holocaust survivors?
Note that someone who has been convicted of a serious offense; participating in terrorist acts, attempting to harm Austrian democracy, financial crimes, or other serious offenses, will not be eligible to receive Austrian citizenship.
Austrian Citizenship for Israeli Defense Force soldiers \ officers \ volunteers:
Applicants who have enlisted and served in the IDF before applying for Austrian citizenship, whether regular (compulsory) service and \ or permanent (“Keva”) service as an officer \ contract professional are not restricted from receiving citizenship under the law. Neither previous permanent nor reserve \ academic reserve service disqualify you from obtaining Austrian citizenship, though you will lose your citizenship if you volunteer to serve in the IDF in the future.
How can you prove your eligibility for Austrian citizenship?
The candidate must present proof that they or their parents / grandparents resided in Austria and were persecuted by the Nazis. In addition, a connection must be demonstrated between extended family members (spouses and children in the case that the application relates to them as well) and the family member who was the victim of Nazi persecution.
The documents required to apply for an Austrian passport are as follows:
- A signed application for citizenship, including the story of the Holocaust survivor and a detailed history of his or her time in Austria. These documents must include information about the victim’s career path, military service, nationality, addresses, etc.
- Birth certificate
- A valid passport
- Proof of Austrian citizenship prior to emigration; an Austrian or German passport, residence certificate, certificate of exile, etc.
- Proof of acquiring Israeli, American, or other citizenship.
- Proof of name change according to marriage/divorce certificate, military service, academic degrees, and any other official document which proves connection to the country.
- Proof of the date of emigration from Austria.
It is important to emphasize that the process of submitting documents to the Austrian governmental office is without charge. The Austrian governmental office may request additional documents.
Application for renewed Austrian citizenship – expedited protocol
Between 1933-1945, many Jews had their Austrian citizenship revoked. In some cases, the citizenship was revoked because they chose to emigrate to another country after the disasters that struck them in Austria. Today, their descendants can apply to restore Austrian citizenship without relinquishing any additional citizenship they possess. For this process, there is a different, expedited protocol.
Re-acquiring Austrian citizenship is not time-limited, and applies to anyone who was forced to give up Austrian citizenship in the past in order to emigrate or obtain a different citizenship.
Renewed citizenship in such cases takes effect from the day an application is submitted to the aforementioned governmental authorities in Austria. It is important to clarify that in the process of re-acquiring citizenship, the citizenship does not extend automatically to the children of the applicant, although descendants can ratify their application via an additional process.
Thank you to Yonatan Gavrielov for writing this article.
Contact an attorney – Emigration to Austria
Our law offices represent the descendants of Austrian Jews. If a mother or father (or grandmother or grandfather) emigrated from Austria between 1933-1955, we can help you obtain an Austrian passport. Our offices are located in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. For a consultation and assistance in obtaining an Austrian passport, contact us at one of the telephone numbers below. Thank you.