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Obtaining an Austrian Passport

Obtaining 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

What’s new about the amended law?

Recent reforms in Austrian immigration law, endorsed by the parliament, have broadened eligibility criteria for citizenship. 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.

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.

How to apply?

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.

Who cannot apply?

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, Rosenberg, 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.