The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning

After a lengthy application process and requests to furnish further documents and having to wait for a citizenship test appointment, my wife was recently issued with the “Bescheid der Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft“. For me, that milestone is still a long way off, if anything my immediate concern remains whether the case number (Geschäftszahl) for my application will be issued prior to any “no deal” as the spectre of the United Kingdom walking away from the negotiation table is currently looming as the latest round of negotiations on the UK leaving the EU have failed to progress as far as hoped from all sides. 

Provided that the UK has not walked away from negotiations by that stage, my naturalisation will be that of an EU citizen – and not of a third country national, but until I physically have the case number, nothing can be taken for granted. The date of a case number being issued plays an important role in the procedure, since it effectively freezes the law to that legal instant regarding the applicable version/amendment of the Citizenship Act.

In my wife’s case, having passed her citizenship test, an appointment for which was given at the time MA35 concluded its checking of her application back in the spring, meant that a letter was issued asking her to come to another appointment four weeks later to collect the Bescheid. The Bescheid, while back-dated to the point at which she was contacted to come to an appointment to have it issued in person gained effect from when it was personally issued to my wife. This date is important, as it is from the date of issue of the Bescheid that the next clock starts ticking.

The Bescheid states that Austrian citizenship will be granted provided that all the necessary steps are taken to renounce/surrender your existing citizenship – in the case of British citizens, this entails filling out Form RN. There is also the little matter of £ 321 for the privilege. Proof of renunciation in this case is in the form of a stamped copy of the applicant’s copy of that form, and is then submitted to the competent authority for naturalisation in Austria. As previously advised, only in countries that do not permit their citizens to renounce their citizenship can you naturalise as an Austrian while retaining your citizenship to date.

It is worth mentioning that from the date of issue (as above) the person(s) naturalising has/have two years to perform the renunciation process. For some other nationalities, there is a requirement to do an official de-registration with government and tax authorities in that country, while others allow the process to be done through the embassy. Since the Bescheid is conditional on the fulfilment of conditions for you to gain citizenship, as well as you continuing to fulfil all the requirements for obtaining citizenship, while you are further down the path towards citizenship, you are still not a citizen until you have had the citizenship ceremony, having satisfied the authorities that the conditions imposed have been met.

In certain cases this 2-year period can also have a “cooling off” nature to it, since you could theoretically still withdraw your application for citizenship, or choose to let it lapse by allowing the two year period for satisfying the conditions attached to granting of citizenship to expire, thereby not taking up Austrian citizenship. In this regard, the end of the beginning can also be considered the beginning of the end.

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