Having spent months trying to gather all the requested information as per the list supplied back in the spring, last Wednesday I went to MA35 in the 20th district, with a lever arch file accompanied by my young son and wife, to put in our applications (for me and my son) for Austrian citizenship. I’d sat up until 2am checking and rechecking that I had as much of the information available as possible, and potential supporting documentation that could also be of use. Despite thorough preparations, I was still nervous.
My son was required to attend as well as my wife, since his application required her consent for submission as a minor. Of course he was very unaware of where we were, and was happy to run around in the corridors at every opportunity.
I was there on a day where only cases with appointments were to be handled, and therefore the waiting time was minimal. Around me, other applicants from a variety of countries – within Europe and from other continents sat waiting to be called. Turning up ad hoc on other days sees bigger queues and you may wait for a long time to be seen.
I was aware that I might have to nachreichen (submit subsequently) some events, but knew that this notwithstanding the dated case number would be the most important piece of information, since this would ensure that regardless of how Brexit negotiations unfold, I will be handled as an EU citizen.
I had to provide my case officer with list of documents they were requiring from me, as they did not have a file about my application containing that list. We went through the list systemically from top to bottom, with me submitting the original documents and then the copies, and once the copies were marked as originals seen, the originals were returned. As we ploughed through the documents to be submitted, the case officer put a slight spanner in the works, by mentioning that my degree had not been nostrified (at my information interview, where I had asked whether I would need a translation of my degree certificate and the grades transcript that I could also supply, I had been ensured that it would not be necessary by my now case officer), although while I was waiting as they scanned my submitted papers, I quickly consulted both www.berufsanerkennung.at and the RIS website to find out about whether my degree was recognised, and also to confirm that I was as has always been the case to my knowledge allowed to work as a translator in Austria. I also asked the case officer to check with their colleagues at the same time whether a degree from another university from another EU country would actually need to be nostrified.
When I was called back in to my case officer’s office, the information had been checked and it was confirmed that my degree was duly recognised. Then, however, I was asked for a language qualification (saying I needed at least B1 – in contradiction to the information I was advised that I would have to supply at the information appointment) – I duly furnished my degree certificate, for an Abgeschlossenes Studium in Germanistik und Romanistik, and then asked the case officer to read through my CV – submitted as part of the application. I pushed my contract as a translator (German > English) for a government authority across the table as the case officer did so, and any further requirement was dropped without comment.
After running through various questions and enquiries from the case officer, in relation to my CV and my period searching for work when I first got to Austria, the case officer told me that my case was far enough advanced to be given a test date in mid-December and that the remaining documentation would need to submitted by then. I was given a Niederschrift which I had to read and sign. I went through it very thoroughly, and asked for corrections of the incorrect spellings of my parents’ names on the first page, before I could accept that page. I also requested a correction of the second page, due to the incorrect calculation of months being employment with social insurance contributions while job hunting when I arrived, and then approved the description of my volunteer work for the Austrian Cricket Association during this period. I had to inform the case officer that I was not in a position to sign the third page of the transcript yet, since I had not been informed about the entailed costs of the procedure as the transcript claimed I had been, for which omission an apology was forthcoming and the amounts involved were duly confirmed, and my question confirming that my Rechtsanspruch would have a bearing on the fee structure acknowledged. The final page summed my language skills up – the degree level German was mentioned, and level described as “ausgezeichnet“, and a remark included about my professional status.
The statement of regular outgoings provided slight confusion – the case officer was more interested in the now expired Kontokurrentrahmen (a rolling overdraft facility), for which a contract was apparently required about, until I questioned the importance of this, since it only constituted a facility, rather than a loan with repayments, but was still in the KSV1870 statement submitted, since I had got that already for the Infotermin in the Spring. Reflecting on it in the car afterwards, it was clear that the information asked for is intended to assist in handling cases where applicants have multiple unsecured loans, alimony etc. and who are borderline in terms of their earnings. I would advise that this form is filled out in the office with the case officer to avoid resubmission.
There were four items of paperwork missing, and I duly requested to be given an updated form confirming the missing items. (two of the four items I had not presented, due to the fact that the list of documents requested had been incorrectly filled out at my Infotermin i.e. items were omitted). When I was given my form, I had to again return it for correction – as the required apostille on my Police Certificate from the UK was not listed on it. One of the other items, which I had brought in original, but not in copy, since it had not been requested, was the Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts for me and the Anmeldebescheinigung for my son. I decided in the interests of diplomacy not to correct the case officer about the non-necessity of my Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts (as I have been settled in Austria prior to 2006, I was not formally required to do the Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts, but I did it voluntarily prior to the UK Referendum on Membership of the EU).
I left the office euphoric, as though a cloud of uncertainty had been lifted, although drained, given that I had spent about 90 minutes in an intense dialogue, questioning claims and asserting what I knew to be right. From my experience, I would advise others going through the process:
- Read everything exceptionally thoroughly, and if anything take more time rather than less.
- Check non-standard spellings of names, durations of time periods etc. listed in the Niederschrift for data entry mistakes.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions, and question requests for information.
- Do not be surprised if you take more supporting documentation than required that not all will be required.
- Do not feel intimidated, and if necessary ask for parts of your process to be checked and referred.
- Do not volunteer any more financial information than you need to .
- Acquaint yourself with the laws and regulations that may apply, particularly if you studied abroad, were already in Austria prior to 1 January 2006.
- Request written confirmation of further documents to be supplied,and also recheck this list.
- Feel free to ask questions about what is needed to be entered on the list of regular outgoings, and be able to answer questions or qualify any remarks contained on your KSV 1870 statement.
Now I have a test to learn for just before Christmas, and a few minor pieces of paperwork to submit. The investigative procedure is likely to conclude sometime in early Spring 2018. Given the fact that my application acknowledges that I am an EU citizen at the time of submission, and determines the procedure that I go through accordingly, the process is simplified over had I been a third country national.