On 1 September 2020, an amendment to the Austrian Citizenship Act (StbG) that facilitates citizenship by notification will become effective. The act already helps people who fled from Nazi persecution to become Austrian citizens, and now it will also apply to their descendants.

Beneficiaries

There are two conditions to be eligible for citizenship by notification under the new § 58c(1a) StbG. The person must be a descendant of: those who were originally Austrian citizens, citizens of one of the successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, or stateless persons who had their main residence in Austria. These relatives must have fled Austria before 15 May 1955 because they suffered or had reason to fear persecution by NSDAP entities, Third Reich authorities, or because they advocated for the democratic Republic of Austria.

The proposed amendment was originally limited to descendants up to the third generation, but this restriction was removed. All descendants in the direct line are now eligible for citizenship, with adopted children also considered to be descendants.

The applicant must prove the family connection, the ancestor’s citizenship, and the relevant circumstances concerning persecution with “credible documents or other equivalent means of certification” to the authority.

Facilitated citizenship / Dual citizenship

In contrast to the standard requirements for conferring citizenship, descendants of Nazi victims are not required to reside in Austria legally and without interruption for a certain period of time. They do not have to prove that they have a secure livelihood, and even serious administrative offences are no obstacle. However, criminal convictions, possible damage to the reputation of the Republic, or links to extremists or terrorists do present an obstacle to citizenship here, as in standard cases.

Although dual citizenship is generally prohibited, an exception has been made for these descendants of Nazi victims, who will be able to obtain Austrian citizenship and also retain their previous citizenship. It should be noted, however, that some states automatically terminate citizenship when a person acquires a foreign citizenship.