Dual Austrian Citizenship is an Exception in Austria
One of the basic principles of Austrian citizenship law is the avoidance of multiple nationalities. In general, the Austrian Nationality Act does not allow dual citizenship. Dual citizenship exists if one person is simultaneously an Austrian citizen and a citizen of another State. The cited principle of avoiding dual citizenships is broken in exceptional cases.
Thus, in Austria it is the case that a person who voluntarily acquires foreign citizenship automatically loses their Austrian citizenship.
In order not to lose Austrian citizenship, permission to retain it must be requested in writing before acquiring foreign citizenship and be approved by written decision.
There is only an exception for persons who obtain two citizenships at the time they were born. An Austrian citizen applying for foreign citizenship will automatically lose his/her Austrian citizenship upon obtaining foreign citizenship.
The Austrian Citizenship Act is rigorous in relation to mistakes or "mistakes" concerning dual citizenships or multiple nationalities. It is not without reason that the Citizenship Act provides for the loss of Austrian citizenship in the case of a double citizenship that is not granted as follows (dual citizenship in Austria):
§ 27. (1) Citizenship loses who acquires a foreign nationality on the basis of his application, his declaration or his express consent, unless he has previously been granted the retention of citizenship.
The loss of Austrian citizenship thus already occurs when the citizen acquires the foreign nationality on the basis of his declaration of intent. The loss of Austrian citizenship is permanent. This means that even the subsequent loss or the deferment of foreign citizenship does not lead to the resurgence of Austrian citizenship.
Dual Citizenship Application - Austria Dual Citizenship
In order not to lose Austrian citizenship, the authorization to retain it before acquiring the foreign nationality must be requested in writing and approved by written decision. The approval of retention must be made before applying for foreign citizenship, otherwise the loss of Austrian citizenship occurs. The Citizenship Department of the respective Provincial Government Office is responsible for granting citizenship.
The main exception for an retention of citizenship is stated in Section 28 of the Austrian Nationality Act:
- if the maintenance is in the interest of the Republic of Austria, or
- if personal reasons are worth considering (the law does not provide for examples; the specific reasons depend on your own individual situation).
Thus, regarding dual Austrian citizenship, in principle it is possible for a citizen of another country to obtain Austrian citizenship while retaining his other citizenship but it is very difficult and subject to strict requirements.
According to this provision regarding dual citizenship the decision about the allowance of a dual citizenship from the Austrian side always strongly depend on the individual case and the reasons stated in the dual citizenship application. However, since the authorities have a relatively wide range of discretion in assessing whether the requirements under Section 28 of the Citizenship Act have been met, it is important to pay close attention to the wording of the application and the reasons given, and it is recommended that a specialized lawyer is engaged to handle the matter.
Decisions of the Administrative Court (VwGH) regarding Dual Austrian Citizenship
Find some selected legal decisions of the Administrative Court (VwGH) on questions of citizenship and dual citizenship law as follows:
- The provision of § 28 Abs. 2 Citizenship Law (StbG) was created by the Citizenship Law Amendment 1998. According to the explanations, it is intended to enable citizens to retain Austrian citizenship despite acquiring a different nationality, if there is a reason for retaining it that deserves special consideration. This makes it possible to avoid extreme disruption of the private or family life of the citizen resulting from the non-acceptance of citizenship or the loss of citizenship (see Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH) Ra 2018/01/0415).
- It is for the maintenance applicant to explain those circumstances which constitute particular reasons why the retention of citizenship is in the interest of the Republic of Austria. It is not the task of the authority to guide an applicant in such a way as to be successful (see Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH) on Ra 89/01/0119).
- The VwGH has stated that an extreme impairment of private and family life in the case of the concrete feared loss of the "Green Card" and the associated impairment of the right of entry or residence in the US could be considered.
- The granting of citizenship according to § 28 StbG is not a discretionary act; rather, if the requirements are met, there is a legal right for retention.
- The loss of "political voice" in Austria does not affect the private and family life of the applicant (see Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH) on Ra 2016/01/0058).
- According to § 28 Abs. 1 Z. 1 StbG, a retention must be in the interest of the Republic of Austria because of achievements already provided or to be expected or for any other reason worthy of special consideration. The grant is therefore initially considered if the person concerned has already provided "achievements", or if he still benefits are expected. The latter requirement requires a prognosis decision; Such a prognosis is possible if the person concerned has not yet provided any "achievements" (in which case the first condition would exist anyway), but can be deduced from his behavior and abilities (education) for future benefits. Incidentally, the law contains no information as to what kind of services have to be provided and what is to be regarded as a service (see Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH) on Ra 2009/01/0023).
- It is not true that the long-term care needs of close relatives can not be a cause worthy of consideration within the meaning of Section 28 (2) StbG (see Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH) on Ra 2009/01/0023).
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