What to Know About Austrian Citizenship by Descent Jewish
Austria had a significant Jewish population before the Anschluss that resulted in Nazi rule over the area. Of the roughly 200,000 Jewish Austrians, nearly 65,000 lost their lives in the Holocaust. The rest of the Jewish population that was lucky enough to be alive mostly fled the country. But in doing so, they had to give up the lives they were living in Austria and their connection with the homeland. Descendants of those Jews who fled Austria during Nazi rule now want to be reconnected with their roots. This is where Austrian citizenship by descent Jewish comes into the picture.
In September 2019, the Austrian Parliament amended the Austrian Nationality Act to make certain provisions for all those who suffered under Nazi rule. Though it does not exclusively mention Jews, the Jewish descendants form a majority of those who will benefit from the new laws. These amendments are a part of Austria’s efforts to reconcile with the people who were victims of their past participation in the crimes of Nazi Germany.
Who is eligible for Austrian citizenship by descent under the amended Act?
Under the new law which came into effect on September 1, 2020, the following people are eligible for Austrian citizenship by descent.
- Anyone who was an Austrian citizen, a citizen of the erstwhile Austro-Hungarian empire, or stateless but residing in Austria, and were forced to flee Austrian borders before May 1955, for fear of persecution under Nazi rule or due to the after-effects of the war.
- Anyone who is a direct descendant of those persecuted and forced to flee the nation, including children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even children who were adopted as minors.
Under the new law, individuals who meet these eligibility criteria can restore their Austrian citizenship by descent while retaining their citizenship in any other nation as well.
Austrian citizenship by descent grandparent Jewish – how does it work?
Yes, Austrian citizenship by descent works if your ancestors or grandparents were Austrian Jews. According to the Austrian Nationality Act, anyone born to parents who are Austrian citizens automatically becomes an Austrian citizen. Until 2019, Jewish applicants for Austrian citizenship by descent were excluded if they were descendants of female Austrians (rather than male Austrians). But after the amendment, descendants based on the female line have also been included. This means you can apply for Austrian citizenship by descent, even if only your grandmother was an Austrian Jew.
The law states that a child born to an Austrian mother is automatically an Austrian citizen. Similarly, a child born within wedlock inherits Austrian citizenship if the father is an Austrian citizen and the mother may or may not be.
So irrespective of whether both of grandparents were Austrian citizens or only one of them was, you are automatically eligible for Austrian citizenship by descent if both your grandparents and parents were legally married. For children born to unmarried parents, the rules are just slightly different, but they can still apply for citizenship if these requirements are met.
What are the necessary documents for Austrian citizenship by descent Jewish applicants must produce?
The application process for Austrian citizenship by descent is not very complicated and is more or less similar to that of most other nations. You will need to complete your application and provide all the necessary supporting documents. The most important documents to apply for Austrian citizenship by descent Jewish applicants need to keep handy are those related to your Austrian lineage. You will need to produce documents proving your relation to your Austrian parent or grandparent showing that you are a direct descendant.
In case of Jewish applicants for Austrian citizenship by descent, proof that your parent or grandparents faced persecution in Austria and were forced to leave the nation is not necessary, just family connection to a Jewish Austrian citizen resident. If you are including your spouse or children in the application as well, proof of your relationship with them will also be needed.
Documents that are necessary include –
- Birth certificates of all applicants
- Valid passport from your current nation
- Signed application form. The proof of persecution of your Austrian ancestor has to be included in the application form itself. You will be required to share their story of persecution and loss of Austrian citizenship
- Proof of your ancestor’s Austrian citizenship before they were forced to leave. This could be an Austrian passport, proof of residence, certificate of exile, or others.
- Proof of acquisition of citizenship or naturalization in another country
- Marriage license, divorce certificate, driving license, or any other documents that prove their connection to Austria
How can an immigration lawyer help you in applying for Austrian citizenship?
Though the new amendments offer several privileges to descendants of Holocaust survivors from Austria, the process of application can be quite grueling. There is a lot of paperwork involved and you may be asked for additional documents at different stages of your application process if what you have submitted is not found to be sufficient. An immigration lawyer who is well-acquainted with the Austrian Nationality Act can make sure that your application is correct in one go.
Our immigration lawyers can guide you on what to include in your application and how to present your connection with Austria to ensure that your request is accepted sooner. Consult our immigration law experts for more information on Austrian citizenship laws.