Disadvantages of Naturalisation?

I recently asked the question through the Facebook page for this blog about whether anyone had identified any disadvantages from naturalising as an Austrian citizen. I disregarded the issue of having to renounce your previous citizenship(s) unless it could be proven that doing so was not realistic or so adverse that it would be more reasonable for you to retain your previous citizenship (this argument doesn’t apply for those naturalising from previously being British).

Continue reading “Disadvantages of Naturalisation?”

A few notes on Zivildienst

Photo by Mateusz Dach from Pexels

From a contact considering naturalisation, but who is below the cut-off age for military service or alternative civilian service (Zivildienst), I have received some information about civilian service. He has enquired whether whether teaching jobs can be considered as performing alternative civilian service, since many kindergartens use the services of Zivildiener (our kindergarten is one such example).

Unfortunately it can’t. Furthermore, unless the school(s) you teach at keep(s) you nominally on the staff lists for a couple of hours, you may not be able to retain your position at the school, due to the fact the Zivildienst is for the equivalent of a full-time position. The duration of Zivildienst is nine months, although there is a possibility to voluntarily extend it for a further three months. In this case the extra months are paid better than the normal Zivildienst pay.

The monthly pay for a Zivildiener as of 01.01.2020 is EUR 346.70 per month. However there is Verpflegungsgeld, to ensure that you have enough money for food, if Naturalverpflegung (i.e. meals provided is not offered). Naturalverpflegung consists of breakfast and one hot meal and one cold meal (with the hot meal as either lunch or dinner).

In some cases you are provided with accommodation too (i.e. residential /live-in jobs) on otherwise you can apply for financial assistance towards accommodation costs. In cases of financial support being required, this extends to spouses (i.e. by marriage or a civil partnership) as well as children, but not say a girlfriend/boyfriend.

Further information in German: https://www.zivildienst.gv.at/103/start.aspx

Note: h/t Friedrich Bruckner for reminding me that employers are obliged to keep your old job open for you for up to one month after the end of Zivildienst (and military service).

The Highs & Lows of Naturalisation – Part 1: The Highs

The author on Wien Heute

From the outset, I have always advocated that naturalisation is a deeply personal issue, and is heavily dependent on personal circumstances. My own personal first foray into looking into naturalisation and becoming an Austrian citizen, back in 2016 was to attend an event about taking Austrian citizenship held by a lawyer specialising in the field. Granted at that evening the audience were not only Britons, but in the last two and a half years the issue has become one of a hitherto unknown importance for Britons. At a live chat on Facebook that the well-meaning British ambassador oversaw, following on from a similar chat by an FCO staff member earlier that year(2017), it soon became apparent that the prime motivation for naturalisation would be to have certainty in uncertain times.

For me there was never the option to exercise my claim to another EU citizenship – those who had that opportunity, I fully supported in their intention to take an additional citizenship, and asked others considering it and waiting and saying why they haven’t acted upon it – the reasons were often their personal ones, which I can accept. Others waivered as the emotional bond of British citizenship and losing it was insurmountable for them. I have no problem with that – it is just one of the many factors that makes naturalisation and renouncing the citizenship of the country of one’s birth a deeply personal decision. Some acquaintances branded me a traitor (and not in an ironic or humourous way). They of course are welcome to their own view, but that won’t change the fact that I naturalised for me and for the welfare of my family.

Having blogged about the Referendum that led to the Decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union from it being called and discovering that I would not be eligible to vote in it, through to waking up on my 39th birthday as a father of a three month old son, unsure of what the future would hold. Leaving the UK from a family party in March 2017, I resolved that I would not enter the UK as a British citizen again. I still have not visited again since. The journey has been a roller-coaster over the last two years, and one which for Britons in the EU will continue to be so for a while yet, although there are promising signs that Austria will be enacting law to underpin the recent messages from the Foreign Minister (see below) and the Federal Chancellery that suggest the future might be more certain again for the approx. 11,000 Britons in Austria, after a slightly alarming remark from Andreas Pölzl in the Innenministerium.

I’ll be following the legislation that comes in on its passage through parliament. I hope for Britons in Austria that the passage is a swift one, without any delays or unpleasant surprises, and that the outcome is a satisfactory one.

The Highs of Naturalisation

In moments of doubt it was sometimes difficult to keep on going, although there were definitely high points along the way.

Contributing to the debate

Part of my motivation for this blog was to also resolve the many half-truths that were circulating about “dual citizenship/nationality”, the approach of “revoke and resume” and to back up my arguments with references from Austrian law. Similarly, in a time when many Britons felt more uncertain about their future than before, I wanted to reassure those considering the route towards Austrian citizen. The experience, particularly with MA35 and attending townhall meetings organised with DExEU and Embassy staff, has also helped me to deepen my interest in politics, to ask incisive questions and put “experts” on the spot.

Media Appearances

As my blog has gained traction, started to be read by a bigger audience and positive feedback has been received, there has been a knock-on effect, and I have been asked to speak on television and radio on a national level. The unexpected positive side of this has been that people I had lost contact with have got back in touch – they heard me on the radio, saw me on television and it motivated them to get back in touch.

It has proven a fascinating insight into the workings of the media and how news is made. I’ve learned what the media wants to hear, how to articulate soundbites in German to suit the needs of the broadcasters and got to understand about being interviewed on various subjects, speaking passionately and how to get to the soundbite that the media wish to have. I’ve appeared on television, in print, on the radio, in English and German, and have of coursed blogged the entire process.

Incidentally this post was partially written when I appeared on a segment in ORF’s Wien Heute on 16 January 2019.

Old and New friendships

I’ve made new friends and acquaintances – contact has been established to and with other Britons in similar circumstances, others wanting informal advice – I realise of course that the advice I give cannot be a substitute for professional advice, although often reassurance is often needed on a human level, and some of the hurdles that others face in going through the same process have been overcome through some suggestions (e.g. helping them with drafting the CV that they need, checking that it corresponds directly to the times on their Versicherungsdatenauszug). And of course, old friendships has been rekindled, contact made after several years again – it is a good feeling not to be a Karteileiche in someone’s phone contact list!

The Milestones

As each stage of the process was completed, there was a definite buzz – each letter, positive e-mail, and appointment negotiated were milestones. But there were other smaller milestones too – not just the Antragstermin, the passing of the test, the Zusicherungsbescheid being granted, the ceremony, the passport arriving in the post and last but by no means least the renunciation. There were other milestones, such as being told that no more papers were required, that the investigative procedure was concluded, that they were satisfied with everything.

The Achievement

When I attended an event about naturalisation given by a lawyer, one of the takeaways was that from Antragstermin to naturalisation it was usually 15-18 months, and that with a lawyer it might be typically cut from 9-12 months. In my case, in the end, the wait from Infotermin to Antragstermin excluded, it took eight and a half months. In my wife’s case as a third country citizen naturalising, due to problems admitted by MA35 that they had “difficulties” in 2014-15 her process took nearly four years. Fortunately, I also managed for my son to naturalise with me, and thereby for my twins, born just a few weeks after my becoming Austrian, that they are Austrian from birth, entitling them, should they ever wish to naturalise as British to exercise a Beibehaltungsrecht to remain Austrian in the process.

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). Continue reading “The final steps on the road to Austrian citizenship”

So I have my Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft, what now?

I was granted my ZdVdöS (my abbreviation rather than MA35’s) at the end of April and asked my case officer about the next steps. For her the issue was to prove that I and my son have put in to renounce our British citizenship and to submit the necessary proof of having done so, to then trigger the next stage. Continue reading “So I have my Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft, what now?”

One final piece of paperwork to show to get my Bescheid der Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft

My appointment with MA35 to issue my Bescheid der Zusicherung der Verleihung is next Thursday, and there is one piece of paperwork that they need me to clarify, before they issue the Bescheid (issued in person at MA35 and with a fee to be paid of EUR 45). It will be six months and one day since my initial application appointment. Continue reading “One final piece of paperwork to show to get my Bescheid der Zusicherung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbürgerschaft”

Am I the only one taking Austrian citizenship?

Sometimes it has felt like a lone furrow being ploughed, as most friends and acquaintances have preferred to either wait and see, or prefer not to give up their citizenship. From the outset, I have believed that Austrian citizenship is the appropriate step for me and my family, especially as we intend to continue living in Austria permanently. Having asked a few friends in recent months, about how they feel about naturalising, there are mixed thoughts, some of which are captured below. Continue reading “Am I the only one taking Austrian citizenship?”

Facebook Live Q&A with HE Leigh Turner

HE Leigh Turner

HE Leigh Turner did a Facebook Live video Q&A today (16.11.2017) from HM British Embassy in Vienna – the 45 minute videocast is worth a watch through Facebook although, given that not everyone is on Facebook, as well as embedding it,  I have also summarised the key points from my understanding. I was pleased that my two submitted questions were both covered – one in relation to “social inclusion” – and how the Embassy can still help those British citizens who are not online (part of this boils down to my recently helping someone not online to do some paperwork). I have tried to do a similar write-up to the one I did  about the Facebook Live chat with Julia Longbottom. Continue reading “Facebook Live Q&A with HE Leigh Turner”

Getting apostilles for UK issued documents (and apostilles for Austrian issued ones)

Hague Apostilles are used to confirm that a document was issued in a signatory country of the Hague Convention.

Even though my wife and I are at different stages of our naturalisation processes, there are some similarities for both of us. In recent weeks, we have both needed to have documents apostilled. While I was watching Austria vs Serbia playing rugby, I got chatting to another Brit who is in the document gathering process, and he asked me about the ordering for apostille and sworn translation of a document issued from the UK, and so I decided to use this post to clear up their use, and how to get them. Continue reading “Getting apostilles for UK issued documents (and apostilles for Austrian issued ones)”

Getting a Grundbuchauszug – without leaving the house

Among the supporting documentation for my application, as a property owner, I am required to supply a Grundbuchauszug for the property that I own, and the one that I live in. In the past I have got copies of Grundbuchauszüge from my bank, as usually it has been connected with changes to my mortgage, and they have usually given me a photocopy for personal reference. This post will focus on getting the Grundbuchauszug, and the information required as well as what information the entry contains, which might also be of interest to property owners who have not deciphered it. Continue reading “Getting a Grundbuchauszug – without leaving the house”