As I woke on Monday morning, my head was still getting round the fact that David Davis had resigned on Sunday night, and that was only a foretaste of things to come, later on Monday. Just as I left the house, my Austrian football top arrived, so I hastily packed it into my bag. It was nice to see a friendly face at the entrance to MA35, who was there for a meeting, as I arrived early (since I was expecting a wait and a queue, but I was called straightaway. My case officer had my file in front of her, and there were more forms to sign, including the ones for passports for me and my son.
We ran through more forms, firstly my signing of the Bescheid (administrative decision) of citizenship, as well as me surrendering my Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts and my son’s Anmeldebescheinigung and then the two forms for setting up the ordering of passports for me and my son, who mercifully did not need to be present. After seeing my case officer I was sent down to the floor below where I was fingerprinted for the passport (a 2 year old is spared this) and then called up to my case officer again. At the point, she advised that I would need to wait about an hour, and that I would now have to pay for my process. I duly did this, with the reason for cash becoming clear, namely that the card terminals only accept a maximum of EUR 1,100 – so for one citizenship a card payment is no problem, but two or more (e.g. family naturalising) then cash is still king.
While I waited for around an hour, my case officer was busy with amending my and my son’s Melderegister entry, to reflect our new citizenship, and the title of citizenship and certificates that would be needed for the presenting to whoever needs to see them (Finanzamt, banks, employer). At just before 11am I was taken to the Gelöbnissaal, a small room with capacity for an official and up to ten people, with flags for Austria, the EU and Land Wien. As the Bundeshymne was played from a CD (I was not required to sing, and I do regret that I had not learnt it note perfect to be able to do so, but as I was in the room only with my case officer this was not necessary), I signed the last documents, and then had to read the pledge of allegiance that is defined in the Citizenship Act of 1985 (Article 21).
Ich gelobe, dass ich der Republik Österreich als getreuer Staatsbürger angehören, ihre Gesetze stets gewissenhaft beachten und alles unterlassen werde, was den Interessen und dem Ansehen der Republik abträglich sein könnte und bekenne mich zu den Grundwerten eines europäischen demokratischen Staates und seiner Gesellschaft.
I read it with a strong emphasis on “europäischen” and “demokratischen”. My case officer concluded the ceremony, I thanked her for her work, and she added that she hoped my wife’s process would soon be finished. I reassured her that should friends also be naturalising I would be happy to help and guide them along the way, as it is a shame to let knowledge and experience gained not be applied wherever possible – and with a smile wished her well and said that I hoped my process might also have brought with it new insights and awareness of British citizenship law, although it was clear that the 102 page submission of the legally valid version of the British Nationality Act of 1981 was probably only printed out, but that no self-study had yet been undertaken.
The only step still to be taken will be to provide the documents confirming renunciation of British citizenship once they come from the Home Office. Next week our new passports will arrive, and then we can change our Meldezettel accordingly. From application appointment to naturalisation has taken 257 days, which all told is pretty quick and close to “Mindestzeit”.
As I walked out into the sunshine, I changed into my Austrian football top to take a couple of pictures and then headed off to the office, as a freshly minted Austrian. After living in Vienna for 6,566 days, I am now an Austrian citizen, and my personal limbo is over.