An application for Austrian citizenship in most cases requires – apart from some other requirements – that the applicant has a minimum time of lawful and continuous residence in Austria of at least 6 or 10 years, depending mostly on his current citizenship, his family background (e.g. married to an Austrian) and whether he is “highly integrated”. Besides the requirement of residency, in most cases advanced knowledge of the German language and a basic knowledge of Austria’s history and democratic structure is also needed. Furthermore, the applicant will have to provide proof of his income.
Republic’s special interest
There is however a possibility to apply for the citizenship on the basis of Art. 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act. This regulation allows a much favourable granting of the citizenship, if the applicant has already made extraordinary achievements and more of such can be expected from him. In these cases the Federal Government of Austria has to certify that the naturalization of such an applicant is “in the special interest of the Austrian Republic” because of his extraordinary merits.
The Austrian Citizenship Act however doesn’t say precisely, in what field of activity these extraordinary merits have to be achieved. Typically, sports, art or science can be fitting, but also economic achievements can be taken into consideration, such as big investments or other economic benefit brought to Austria. A “golden investment” itself will not be enough though; the applicant will have to make prove of his extraordinary contribution to the Austrian society alongside his investment, like creating a substantial number of new jobs (possibly in a rural area), or transferring know-how or new technologies to Austria.
If such a certificate is issued by the Federal Government, many of the basic requirements will not have to be fulfilled: neither will the applicant have to provide proof of his German or historical skills, nor will he need a certain period of lawful and continuous residence in Austria. Furthermore, he will be allowed to maintain his current citizenship as well, so that this is one of the few cases of legal multiple citizenship, which is otherwise mostly banned by the Austrian citizenship law.
Author: Balazs Esztegar, Attorney-at-law, Vienna & Co-Editor of an up-to-date commentary on the Austrian Citizenship Act that has been published in April 2017.