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Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship?

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Have you heard the recent updates regarding applying for Austrian citizenship or a German passport? Your great-grandmother or a different ancestor may have been Austrian, but you are not sure about your eligibility? Your Grandfather (or father) already applied for Austrian citizenship and was rejected decades ago, so you think you don’t stand a chance? The Austrian citizenship law has undergone several changes in recent years. Many descendants of Austrians in Israel and abroad who were not entitled to a European passport in the past will now be able to receive one. With that said, the question – who is entitled to Austrian citizenship?

The answer is – a descendant of any person whose center of life was within the borders of modern day Austria between 1933 and 1955, and who was forced to leave Austria due to persecution. These are citizens, residents and subjects of Austria, but also citizens of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire who lived in Austria without receiving citizenship. In the past, the Austrian citizenship law limited the issue of obtaining citizenship based on origin (for example, for descendants of Austrians who married non-Austrians, for those born out of wedlock, etc.), but today most of these restrictions are lifted. For Jewish descendants there is no need to prove specific persecution, as all Jews were persecuted by the Nazis.

A quick eligibility check with a law office specializing in issuing Austrian citizenship will allow the process of obtaining an Austrian passport for the eligible person and their family members to begin.

How do you prove eligibility?

There are two main stages – proof that the ancestor did indeed live in Austria in the above-mentioned years and that the center of their life was there (so, for example, it is much easier to prove a “center of life” for a stateless person who has never left Austria compared to someone who came there to study or work for a short period of time) It is understood that many fled Austria without documents proving where they lived, worked, studied, etc. Many survivors even preferred not to tell their family members about their “previous” life. However, a full name and place of birth / residence is usually enough to start the search process in Austria’s archives which will lead to find the required documents.

The second step – proof of direct descent from said Austrian ancestor. Birth certificates, marriages, name changes (if any), everything is translated into German with a notary stamp. For those who are not Israeli citizens but are descendants of an Austrian survivor who immigrated to Israel, a lawyer can also be used to obtain the required documents.

Why do you need an Austrian passport?

Why apply for Austrian citizenship if you have no intention of immigrating to Austria? Because you will receive a European Union passport, a major benefit for you and your descendants. Getting the passport allows you to travel, work and live in Europe freely, without any time limit.

There is no need to apply for a visa in advance (as Israeli and US citizens will have to do starting in 2025) and the passport can be used to visit countries where it is not possible or not recommended to enter with a US passport.

Finally, even if you have no desire to study or work in the European Union, this does not mean that such a desire will not arise among your children or grandchildren.

Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship?

How do the applicant’s children inherit the citizenship?

Minor children, under the age of 16, can join the parent’s citizenship application based on a declaration. A child over the age of 16 can submit the application themself. Here it is worth noting that the parent does not have to be a citizen – a great-grandson of an Austrian survivor can submit the application even if the grandfather and father do not want an Austrian passport and did not receive it. On the other hand, if one family member has already applied successfully, the same documents can be used to obtain citizenship for members of the same family easily. For this reason, we recommend submitting the application for the whole family together, and offer a discount on this service.

Are foreign soldiers entitled to Austrian citizenship?

The Austrian citizenship law does not allow citizenship to be obtained from those who volunteer to serve in a foreign army, and denies citizenship to Austrians who do so. But it is important to distinguish between recruitment for regular service and reserve service compared to volunteering and permanent recruitment, and a particular exception exists for Israeli armed forces. Compulsory conscription and reserve service do not affect your right to receive an Austrian passport. No one who served in permanent service or volunteered in the IDF before submitting the application faces a refusal. However, there is indeed a slight problem in terms of transferring citizenship to the minor children of the applicant – if they want to volunteer in a foreign army after receiving Austrian citizenship, said citizenship will be revoked.

Why contact an Austrian passport lawyer?

To handle any issue of obtaining citizenship without the need to travel to Austria, search through archives, and communicate with the authorities in German. We take care of the entire procedure – from verifying eligibility, through obtaining the documents, to the moment when you have your new passport in hand. We also help those who have all the documents in their possession and only need a notarized translation into German.

Most of the payment is received only upon success – you pay as soon as you have received final eligibility to obtain Austrian citizenship.

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