The final steps on the road to Austrian citizenship

As this post is published, I will be seeing my case officer to finish off the naturalisation process for me and my young son. My case officer called last Monday and has requested that I come with my British passport, as well as my son’s and my Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts and my son’s Anmeldebescheinigung. We will be required to surrender these documents (since our circumstances have changed and we will no longer be UK citizens) and our Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweise will then be issued, and we can arrange for passports and Personalausweise to be issued, for which we again enlisted the services of Bildermacher on Tuchlauben (they are great with babies and toddlers) to sort us out with a new set of passport photos (once again the photos need to be recent (i.e. under six months old)). In addition, I have to bring just shy of EUR 1,500 to MA35 (in cash, hence why I delayed this post so will not be carrying the cash on me by the time this post goes online) to cover the costs of our naturalisation, in what I hope should be the final Behördenweg (in February 2017, when asked about Austria as a hub for business and what could be the pitfalls of trying to do business here, I mentioned the lengthy Behördenwege. The quote ended up on the national news, coupled with a rebuttal by the then Minister of Finance).

As I tie up the loose ends in relation to my naturalisation, I’ve decided to use this post to try to clear up some of the loose ends that have been going around in my head in recent weeks, particularly given a lot of the conversations I have had with other Britons in recent times, both in person, and over e-mail/social media.

Dual Citizenship: I’ve lost count over the number of times that I have had discussions in the last eighteen months about why Austria won’t allow me dual citizenship, and the hopes of others that the law might change. The reactions when I have stated my believe that Austria’s current government is unlikely to make a special exception to the UK, particularly given the precedent that it would create for other third country citizens, if that it what the UK becomes after Brexit, have varied from the “how can you be so sure?” and the “they should be grateful to have us”. Gratefulness will not enter into it. Many have said they couldn’t give up their British citizenship, but as a disenfranchised Briton in Europe, part of the issue is one of re-enfranchisement. The option of permanent residency won’t achieve that.

Which brings me back to the Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts (the subtitle of which is “für EWR-Bürger/-innen und Schweizer Bürger/-innen” – let’s call it BdD for short!), where my journey towards naturalisation unwittingly began. The British in Austria Facebook Group, regularly has threads about this piece of paper – with tales of people’s experience ranging from the plain-sailing/plain-vanilla/straightforward (as was the case for me in 2016 at MA35 prior to the referendum) through to the curious/strange and outright frustrating.

The experience seems to be far from standard – many in other provinces have said they have only been charged EUR 15, whereas EUR 29.30 appears the norm in Vienna. I paid the latter, and the explanation might be down to whether they charge the fee for handling non-Austrian documents (there is a EUR 7.20/14.30 fee listed for this). Long-standing man about town, Robert Barrett, blogged his experience in his Up the Danube without a Paddle blog, (and the following post) and his experience as a self-employed Brit seems similar to one faced by another who I have had contact with.

At the frustrating end of the spectrum, a Briton was denied it in Mödling, only for another office in St Pölten to grant it straightaway. Two other Britons in Vienna were separately knocked back over missing Versicherungszeiten (insurance coverage periods) – a hazard of the gig economy and rolling contracts apparently, and one I genuinely fear will become a more frequent issue for Britons in Austria in their scrabbling and scrambling for a permanent residency.

On the legal side of who current qualifies for permanent residence, this is addressed the Residency and Settlement Act (NAG; Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz) for EEA + Switzerland by Article 53a NAG. A BdD can be issued to any EEA with a residency right (as clarified in Articles 51 and 52 NAG) after five years of continuous legal residency. An application needs to be nominally made, but is a formality.

Regarding continuity of residency (Article 53a para. 2 NAG), residency is not interrupted by a) absences of up six months in the year, b) absence due to military service c) an absence of up to twelve continuous months for a serious reason (pregnancy, childbirth, illness, studying, secondment for work, professional training).

For the retired: the five year period does not need to be reached, if statutory retirement age has been reached, provided that they worked in Austria for at least the last twelve months prior to retirement or pre-retirement.  Invalidity (being declared unfit to work) is covered similarly, provided that the accident or illness was as a result of work and that the claim to an invalidity pension is partially or fully covered by an Austrian pension insurance provider. Workers working across a border (provided that it is another EU Member State who have kept Austria as their residence and are generally in the country at least once a week) also don’t have their residence interrupted.

EEA Citizens who are partners of EEA Citizens who have been granted permanent residence also qualify, provided that at the the time their partner qualified they were already resident in Austria (para. 4).

In the case that an EEA citizen dies prior to obtaining permanent residency, then their surviving partner, if they are also EEA citizens, resident in Austria qualify, provided that the deceased partner had been resident at the time of death for at least two years, or died as a result of a workplace accident, or if the surviving partner had lost Austrian citizenship by having married or entry into a civil partnership.

A couple of people have also asked about renunciation, and why I didn’t just time my application to coincide with my UK passport(s) expiring. Assuming that they are deadly serious – it is not quite that simple. The British passport does serve as a proof of citizenship (e.g. my son’s passport and my passports all state in the nationality line on the information page that we are a “British Citizen”) but, the lapsing/expiry of a passport does not mean that we become stateless. A flashback to 2003, when I was in Austria and my British passport expired and I needed a new one urgently, reminded me that I was never stateless. There is no “passive renunciation” due to a lapsed passport, it is just that you might have problems travelling, but you would not become stateless, or satisfy the authorities here that you had given up your British citizenship merely due to having not got a valid passport. One thing is for certain, I will not have a blue passport.

13 Replies to “The final steps on the road to Austrian citizenship”

  1. Renunciation process:
    I have now completed everything and I picked up my Austrian passport from the post office this morning.
    Please note – for those of you going through the renunciation process after you have received the “Zusicherung” from MA35: if you submit your renunciation application online (which is a relatively new process) you will NOT receive an email from the Home Office confirming that they have received your application and are processing it.
    My otherwise very efficient case officers at MA35 were waiting for me to produce a magical email with this confirmation before they could complete my Austrian citizenship process. After I hadn’t received this ominous email some 2 months after submitting the application, I contacted the British Embassy in Vienna and received this response from them:
    “I have been in touch with the Home Office. They’ve told me that the application was received on 9 February i.e. the date the application was submitted online. The acknowledgement you received when you submitted online is the only acknowledgement the Home Office issues for an online renunciation application.”

    I handed over all the Embassy email correspondence to my MA35 case officers who promised to pass this information on to their colleagues. I hope this helps others now to speed up the process.

    1. Thanks for the update on this, which seems to show a flaw in the process if there is no way of showing you have triggered the process of renunciation. The online renunciation appears to be a new development, since when I did it, I had to download PDFs and fill them out. In my case, my case officer approved that I had sent off the renunciation by dint of the copies that I sent her of all the correspondence – in particular the letter urging the Secretary of State’s discretion to allow my son’s renunciation. I also forwarded them a copy of my credit card bill that showed they had taken my money and the e-mail confirmation, but it seems that such confirmations are now no longer issued (as three cases I know of have stated).

      1. Sorry – should have added a few more details regarding the online renunciation application.
        I submitted my online application, made the necessary online payment and received an immediate payment confirmation per email.
        On the next working day I received a further email telling me:
        “Thank you for your application to the Home Office. Your application has been received and is being considered.
        It may take up to six months to make a decision on your case. If we are unable to process your application within six months we will tell you as soon as possible. ”

        The way I see this (now) is that these 2 emails should suffice for MA35 as evidence that you have kicked off the renunciation process. I have made MA35 aware about this new procedure and hope that future applicants will not have to wait as long as I unnecessarily did.

    2. Hi Duncan,
      I just received a letter from MA35 that my application for Austrian Citizenship has been approved ( Positive) and i submit a proof of renunciation. Here i would like to ask you two questions.
      (1) Do we have to provide MA35 the original certificate of renunciation OR just any sort of receipt or proof that we have processed / applied for renunciation.
      (2) How long did you have to wait for your Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis after you submitted the proof of renunciation.

      Thank you

      1. Bijaya: In my case, I was given the ceremony to become Austrian as soon as I had proved to my case officer that I had initiated the process to begin renunciation. So to answer (1) You prove you have started the renunciation process and then submit the actual renunciation once you have become Austrian (to avoid becoming stateless). Re (2) I was given a citizenship ceremony for two weeks after I had sent MA35 the proof that I was initiating renunciation. They run final checks with the BFA and then at your ceremony you receive the Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis, and a passport in then secure printed within a few days or so. Hope this helps. Mike

        1. Dear Mike,

          I read your entire blog with great interest because I am currently in the process of obtaining Austrian citizenship as well. I spoke with MA35 a few days ago, and they informed me that I should receive my Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft in August.
          You wrote that you were given the ceremony to become Austrian as soon as you had proved to your case officer that you had initiated the process to begin renunciation. Am I understanding correctly that it is sufficient to demonstrate that you have initiated the process of renouncing your previous citizenship in order to obtain an Austrian passport? In my case (I am renouncing my russian nationality) the process of renunciation may take 4-6 months, and I certainly wouldn’t want to wait that long… Did you then submit the actual renunciation to the magistrate once you became an Austrian citizen?

          1. Hi Alex, I did my naturalisation prior to the end of the transition period. Subsequently, people have had to go through statelessness. Sorry for the slow reply. Mike

      2. Hello Bijaya, to answer your questions – see my post from 12th April 2019, Did you do an online renunciation application? If so, the 2 confirmations above will be sufficient proof for MA35 that you have applied for renunciation.
        If I remember correctly, shortly afterwards I was given an appointment for the history/geography/constitution test and shortly after that the “ceremony” itself where I was given my Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis AND a new temporary Meldezettel with Austrian AND UK nationality. This was all done within a few weeks including issuing my Austrian passport.
        Months after that I received an official renunciation confirmation from the UK which I handed over to MA35 who then issued me a new Meldezettel with only one nationality: Österreich.
        Hope this helps.

  2. Do you know someone who has recently completed the renunciation process? How long was the processing time? It seems that some applicants received their registered declaration of renunciation sooner than others, although they submitted their application at the same time. With the online application available, has the processing time been shortened? Thank you.

    1. Dear Sa,
      where are you at the moment in the process? Have you been through the (non)-ceremony of the Gelöbnis and received your Austrian passport?
      In my case MA35 accepted my confirmation of Payment for renunciation and an email: “Thank you for your application to the Home Office. Your application has been received and is being considered.
      It may take up to six months to make a decision on your case. If we are unable to process your application within six months we will tell you as soon as possible. ” This was sufficient for MA35 to complete the “ceremony”.
      I received an Austrian Passport, Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis and a Meldezettel with dual nationality UK and Austria.
      I eventually received the final confirmation of my renunciation some 6 months later. I know others who commenced the renunciation process at the same time as I did and received the final confirmation a lot earlier.
      The final step is to take this final confirmation to MA35, pay a final fee (can’t remember – maybe around € 15) and receive a new Meldezettel with one nationality- Österreich. That is the end of the process!

  3. I just finished the entire process (up to the removal of British nationality from the Meldezettel) and would like to share with you my experience. I applied renunciation online at the end of August. My application was approved in early November. My experience shows that calling UKVI will not get you anywhere, especially when your application is still within the first six months. Sending email messages to “Further Nationality Enquiries” would not help much either. You might get no reply or have to wait for a long time before receiving a generic answer (e.g., “your application is still in progress”, “please wait”, etc). Actually, the department handling renunciation applications deals with naturalization applications as well. So you should be able to find better contact details of this department from online forums for people applying for British citizenship. Just do some Google search.
    Another method to keep track of your application is to contact the Passport Office because they can tell you whether your British passport is cancelled or not. On the date of your renunciation approval, UKVI would immediately inform the Passport Office, which would then cancel your passport. If the Passport Office says your British passport is still valid, this means your renunciation has not been concluded yet.

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