As of 2023, the Austrian passport was listed fifth in passport rankings worldwide. With an honorable spot at the top and an entry visa to 188 countries, the Austrian passport is gaining popularity and desirability every day.

Following an amendment to Austrian law, many Israelis, Jews and their decedents around the world are entitled to obtain Austrian citizenship, which is required before applying for a passport. How does the law of Austrian Citizenship amendment help many applicants issue their passports easily? How is the Austrian citizenship request submitted? Find all the information you need to know here.

Why is it important to have another passport?

Undoubtedly, the demand for an additional passport is high and can sometimes change an individual’s reality. A classic example of this is the Corona pandemic period, when many countries restricted entry for certain citizenships. Only those who held an additional valid and unrestricted passport, such as a European passport, for example, were able to enter these countries safely.

For many, having another passport is a safety net for them and their family. Sometimes, simply having a passport raises opportunities for a better future for them and their children. However saddening, there is no doubt that a foreign passport can open new and different options that you would not be able to leverage in your country of origin.

What are the advantages of an Austrian passport?

As we mentioned, the Austrian passport has a high status in passport rankings worldwide. With fifth place on the list of desirable passports and providing an entry visa to 188 destinations, the Austrian passport is very much worthwhile. Apart from the ranking and ability to enter other countries, Austria is a well-regarded and leading country on the European continent, and it’s considered one of the best countries to live in overall.

Holding an Austrian passport has notable advantages

  1. Possessing an additional passport of any kind constitutes extra protection, security, and shelter for every person in the present and future.
  2. Possessing a passport enables one to enter the United States and Australia without needing a visa or an entry visa.
  3. Possessing an Austrian passport offers its recipient many benefits given to European Union passport holders, such as residence, the option to work, ease of living and better quality of life, the possibility of taking academic studies abroad, and more in any one of the EU countries.
  4. Once you receive an Austrian passport, your children will automatically obtain one. Therefore, they will be entitled to many benefits and a better future.

New amendment to Austrian Citizenship Law benefits many Israelis and Jews world-wide

The Austrian law was amended in September 2020. It expanded the eligibility criteria, thus allowing many Israelis and descendant of Jews all over the world to receive Austrian citizenship, along with its countless benefits.

The old Austrian Citizenship Law

If the applicants for a passport are ancestors descended from Holocaust survivors who left Austria before 1945, the law recognizes them as entitled to Austrian citizenship.

The new Austrian Citizenship Law

If the parents of the descendants of Holocaust survivors left Austria before 1955, the law recognizes them as entitled to Austrian citizenship.

What is the difference between the laws?

  1. A new eligibility timeline was opened for descendants of Holocaust survivors who left Austria between 1945-1955.
  2. The law does not refer only to the offspring of fathers but of mothers also.
  3. Those who were not born in Austria to citizens, but lived in Austria as residents until 1955, will also be entitled to citizenship, but only if they were born in the following countries: Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, or Slovenia.

As you can see, the differences between the laws are very significant. Thanks to the recognition of ten additional years and of the descendants of Holocaust survivors from their mothers’ side and opening the possibility to descendants of residents – many more applicants can obtain Austrian citizenship nowadays.

Why is the new law so important?

The new law is particularly important for those persecuted by the Nazis as they took power in Austria, particularly for Jews who lived in Austria between 1933 and 1955.

This extension potentially affects hundreds of thousands of individuals individuals worldwide, descended from Austrian citizens and residents and previously ineligible for an Austrian passport, offering them citizenship based on new prerequisites. Historically, many Jews in the United States and UK are descendants of Holocaust survivors who were denied citizenship rights. Now their descendants may be concerned about the political climate and rise of anti-semetism in their countries and wish to acquire a European passport.

Additional concessions in terms of eligibility for Austrian citizenship

The amendment to the Austrian Citizenship Law led to greater flexibility on Austria’s part. The Austrians realized that during the period mentioned, a great injustice was caused to descendants of Jews who lived through Nazi persecution and the Holocaust; therefore, they are ready to ease the conditions for citizenship recognition.

Firstly, today the law allows holding dual citizenship. That is, if in the past a person was entitled to Austrian citizenship and had to give it up because he had another citizenship, today Austrian citizenship can constitute an additional citizenship. It is important to note that there may still be certain restrictions regarding dual citizenship, so each case is examined individually.

In addition, today, even those who did not meet the criteria for receiving Austrian citizenship are allowed to apply. The application may go through in light of the newly issued flexible law and the Austrian government’s lenience.

How do you apply for Austrian citizenship?

There are other ways to get an Austrian citizenship, such as by being born in Austria, by marrying an Austrian, by living there for a long time, or by doing something exceptional for Austria. You can find more information about them here

But if you want to apply under the new law, you will have to first demonstrate that your ancestor was in fact an Austrian Jew or an Austrian victim of persecution, then demonstrate your direct descent from said ancestor. Many Holocaust survivors and refugees couldn’t or wouldn’t maintain the relevant documentation after fleeing abroad. Thankfully, expert genealogists can trace family roots and our contacts in Austria are well versed in finding the correct documents in Austrian archives, provided some basic information about the ancestor’s name and place of residence is available.

What forms are required when applying for Austrian citizenship?

Most of the application consists of proof of eligibility for Austrian citizenship. Therefore, it is necessary to submit forms and documents proving such.

–  Signed application form for obtaining citizenship. In this form, the applicant must include the story of a relative who is a Holocaust survivor and was abused during his stay in Austria. The report must consist of his childhood, career, and military service, including a valid address for each intersection in his life.

You can get Austrian citizenship under the following conditions:

1.  At least 10 years of continuous stay in Austria.

2. Proof of the Holocaust survivor’s immigration date from Austria.

3.  Birth certificate of the applicant.

4.  Valid passport of the applicant.

5. Adequate knowledge of the German language

6. No criminal record.

7. Secure income and sufficient financial means

8.  Proof of the applicant’s existing citizenship (Israeli / American or any other citizenship).

9.  Documents indicating a connection to the applicant’s country: military service, academic degrees, marriage/divorce certificates, etc.

It is important to note that, if necessary, the Austrian government may request additional documents to examine the application, usually free of charge.

FAQ – Austrian citizenship for Jewish decedents

How do I find documents to prove eligibility?

The application for Austrian citizenship depends mostly on documents to prove you are indeed a decedent of an Austrian citizen or resident who was persecuted by the Nazi regime. However, it might be difficult to find these old documents and certificates from this era where Jews tried to hide their identity. Our firm has much experience in conducting examinations of various archives that might have kept documents regarding your ancestors, which are crucial for a successful application.

Does it take long to get Austrian citizenship?

It depends. We know this answer is far from satisfactory; however, regarding requests and bureaucratic processes, each request stands on its own and depends on many criteria. The process will be shorter and much easier if you fully meet the requirements. In any case, because of an influx in such applications, we are seeing that the process is taking longer and might even take 2-3 years from start to finish.

Does birth in Austria grant Austrian citizenship?

Birth in Austria does not necessarily grant Austrian citizenship. Even if a person were born in Austria, they would have to submit a Austrian citizenship application accompanied by additional documents. As with any application, it may not be approved.

How is an Austrian passport issued?

Before applying for a passport, you must apply for Austrian citizenship. Once you receive confirmation of your Austrian citizenship, you can begin issuing a passport.

This process includes several steps, including arrival at the embassy with a passport photo, giving a fingerprint, paying a fee, filling out an application form, and more.

Is it possible to apply for the issuance of Austrian citizenship without a lawyer?

In principle, the application can be submitted independently, but this process is not recommended.

Firstly, since the application is sent to the Austrian government, all correspondence and official documents must be in German. Besides the language difficulty, it is essential to understand that the bureaucratic process is not simple, and even one missing copy could cause an application to be rejected.

Click here for more Frequently Asked Questions

Legal help in the process of obtaining an Austrian passport

Our experienced lawyer will be glad to hear your case and determine whether we can help you in the process of applying for an Austrian passport.

A New Path to European Passports for Israelis through Austrian Law

Over 150,000 Israelis now have an additional opportunity to secure an Austrian passport following a significant change in Austrian citizenship laws. Thousands of Israelis and Jews around the world descended from Austrians who suffered persecution under the Nazi regime may now obtain an EU citizenship and passport. The passport of Austria, a full member of the European Union and one of the world’s most developed nations, allows its citizens to travel to numerous countries without visas, including destinations restricted for Israelis such as the United States, Australia, and Qatar.

Simplified Processes and Legal Support

Legal Offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Facilitate Emigration to Austria

Operating in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, our legal offices specializing in emigration to Austria maintain regular communication with Austrian authorities. Our team of professionals are adept at swiftly and efficiently assessing eligibility for Austrian passports, and facilitating those eligible attaining the desired passport quickly and efficiently. The offices also host a notary department skilled in Austrian law to ensure the correct translation of essential documents into German in the manner approved by the relevant authorities.

Austrian Passport

 

Inclusivity in New Criteria

Holocaust Descendants and Persecution Victims Now Eligible

Under the revised law, descendants of Holocaust survivors from Austria can apply for citizenship without renouncing their current nationality. Any direct descendant of someone persecuted in Austria between 1933 and 1955 can submit an application – and any Jewish Austrian was persecuted and their descendants don’t have to provide specific proof of persecution.

The exception is for those with criminal records involving severe offenses deemed incompatible with Austrian citizenship law. Austrian citizenship can be transmitted through parent-to-child blood relations, including adopted children as well.

Expanded Definition of Persecution

Broader Scope for Eligibility

While the previous law solely granted citizenship to those persecuted by the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) during the Nazi era, the current law extends eligibility to individuals persecuted due to antisemitism or racial prejudice. The historical presence of antisemitism in Austria has historically hindered many Jewish residents from acquiring citizenship, even if they lived in the country for extended periods. Discrimination persisted during the 1920s and 1930s, with lawmakers excluding them from citizenship eligibility. Thankfully, this discriminatory chapter has concluded, allowing the descendants of Jewish residents the opportunity to legally become Austrian citizens.

Broadening the Scope of Eligibility

In a departure from the past, Austrian law previously only recognized individuals who had left the country prior to 1945, coinciding with the conclusion of World War II. However, the recent legal revisions have expanded the scope of eligibility to encompass those who left from within Austrian borders until 1955. This category includes individuals such as refugees, those grappling with health issues, and those who couldn’t immediately depart Austria following the war’s conclusion. Furthermore, the revised law extends its reach to encompass individuals who lived in Austria but were citizens of various countries that constituted the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This provision notably includes approximately 200,000 Eastern European Jews who predominantly resided in Austria until the early 1930s.

Finally, both male and female Austrian Jews are now included in the scope of eligibility. Austrian residents and citizens who have married non-Austrians and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are entitled to citizenship. It also includes children who were adopted as minors.

Who cannot apply to become an Austrian citizen?

Austria has strict rules about who can become a citizen. Those who been convicted of a serious crime or a financial crime;  involved in terrorism; or attempted to damage the Austrian democracy, are not allowed to apply for an Austrian passport.

If you cannot get an EU passport this way, there might be other options for you. You can buy citizenship from another country.

How does your military service affects your Austrian citizenship application?

If you want to get an Austrian passport, you might wonder if your military service will make a difference. Austria has some rules about who can become a citizen if they have served in the army of another country. Here is what you need to know.

There’s no limitation on applying for an Austrian passport based on being drafted or undergoing mandatory military service in your home country. For instance, IDF soldiers who serve between the ages of 18 and 21 do not relinquish their citizenship.

If you are doing mandatory military service or reserve duty as a civilian, this will not constitute a problem.

Conversely, volunteering to serve or serving as career officer is not mandatory. Austrian citizens who enlist in the US army or any other army career that is not mandatory will be forced to relinquish their citizenship, and will not be able to regain it after their service.

Expert Legal Assistance for Attaining Austrian Citizenship

Our legal firm specializes in facilitating the acquisition of European citizenship through the meticulous tracing of genealogical roots. With a dedicated German-speaking department, we offer specialized assistance in navigating the intricacies of obtaining Austrian citizenship. Additionally, our experienced team handles applications for German citizenship. Successfully applying for an Austrian passport necessitates a profound understanding of the procedural stages and document requirements. Austrian authorities maintain a rigorous approach to document verification, especially concerning the establishment of family ties. Engaging the services of a proficient legal professional is highly recommended to ensure a seamless and efficient process.

Reach Out to Us

At Decker, Pex, Levi, we extend our support to individuals seeking Austrian citizenship under the new law. For those unsure of their eligibility, we encourage reaching out to us for personalized clarifications and guidance. Despite the legal complexities, the revamped law is widely regarded as a more streamlined and comprehensible framework compared to its predecessor. We stand ready to assist individuals throughout this transformative journey towards obtaining Austrian citizenship.