Great Demand for Austrian Citizenship in Vienna

More+More+ ♦ Published: March 21, 2023; 10:53 ♦ (Vindobona)

Since last year, the demand of Viennese citizens with foreign citizenship for Austrian citizenship has increased enormously. In the meantime, about 1,300 citizens per month are interested in an information appointment at the City of Vienna's Department for Immigration and Citizenship (MA 35), compared to about 600 a year ago.

Around 70% of naturalizations in Austria are carried out by Vienna. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Alexander Tuma

To meet this demand, the City of Vienna and the Counseling Center for Migrants have developed a new format for initial information meetings. The group appointments offer space for a larger amount of people. Eight group meetings with a capacity of up to 170 participating persons are now to be held monthly starting in April. The focus of the information sessions will be on the legal requirements for citizenship as well as the steps and documents required for a procedure at the competent provincial authority MA 35.

Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Integration Christoph Wiederkehr (Neos) is pleased about the great interest shown by many Viennese in Austrian citizenship.

"Due to the still very high hurdles and sometimes absurd legal regulations, the citizenship process often leads to a lot of frustration," says Wiederkehr, "Unfortunately, we cannot change the federal laws in Vienna, but we can strengthen our information offer to prepare people well for this, often lengthy, process."

Wiederkehr also announced that as of April, MA35 would have an additional 93 new employees on duty. This is because the city is setting itself the goal of making the measures of the procedures more efficient and increasing the capacity of the authority by fifty percent by the fall. "In the long term, however, the citizenship law urgently needs to be modernized and renewed to prevent lengthy procedures," emphasizes Wiederkehr.

Maryam Singh from the Counseling Center for Migrants explains that it is essential for interested parties "to receive sound advice and initial information before they start the naturalization process, which is often perceived as laborious. Singh discusses that during "initial information sessions, participants learn what documents are needed, what the next steps are, and how to prepare them." A realistic assessment is made as to whether interested parties already meet the requirements or still need time, Singh says.

Singh emphasizes, "This saves participants, authorities and, last but not least, the taxpayer a lot of effort and money. We are very pleased that the first round of initial information meetings was extremely successful - the high demand speaks for the necessity and effectiveness of the format!"

With the help of the new online assistant, interested parties can find out without obligation whether they meet the requirements - after which it is possible to book an appointment. It is also possible to register directly via MA 35.

Around 70 percent were carried out in Vienna

Of a total of 20,606 naturalizations in Austria in 2022, almost 70 percent were carried out in Vienna, according to Statistics Austria. Accordingly, 14,167 people were naturalized in the capital last year. Given the size of the Austrian capital and its international character, this is not surprising.

Many people from the Balkans, Turkey or with an Arab background are also seeking Austrian citizenship. Also due to the internationality of the city of Vienna with all its international organizations, authorities and companies, citizenship may be interesting for ex-pats. However, the big problem is that dual citizenship is not allowed. This continues to prevent many people from seeking Austrian citizenship. The reasons to seek or not to seek Austrian citizenship are complex and have already been studied, as reported.

A large proportion of the naturalizations also relate to the applications for citizenship submitted by Nazi victims and their descendants. In 2022, 9,696 persons thus received Austrian citizenship, which corresponds to 47.1 percent of all naturalizations Austria-wide. Through this channel, even dual citizenships are allowed to remain and the naturalized persons do not have to renounce their old citizenship. The Vienna Office for Immigration and Citizenship is responsible for almost all of these procedures worldwide. Many applications come from Israel, the U.S.A and Great Britain.

Vienna City Government - Magistrat der Stadt Wien