Austria raises naturalisation requirement for refugees from six to ten years

On July 5 2018, the first chamber of the Austrian Parliament, the National Council, passed a law to raise the residence requirement for naturalisation for recognised refugees from six to ten years. While the residence requirement for ordinary naturalisation in Austria is ten years, until now refugees have enjoyed the right to facilitated naturalisation after a reduced time span of only six years if they fulfil the general naturalisation requirements (income, clean criminal record, German language knowledge, naturalisation test). Reduced residence requirements for other groups (applicants with higher levels of German knowledge or working in specified fields of work, EU/EEA Citizens, applicants born in Austria, spouses of Austrians) will remain in place.

The legal amendment has been criticised by UNHCR, NGOs and the International Law Office of the Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs as being in violation of the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

The conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which together form a government coalition, voted for the legislation. It will enter into force on September 1 2018.

Link to the law in Parliament.

Link to the Op-Ed (in German) by Gerd Valchars published in Der Standard: Verschärfung für Ungewollte, 10 July 2018.