Privileged access to Austrian citizenship for descendants of holocaust survivors

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Following months of political wrangling, on 19 September the Austrian parliament has finally approved legislation which allows three generations of descendants of Austrians who fled the country as a result of fear of persecution by agents of the Nazi regime to apply for Austrian citizenship in privileged notification proceedings, without requiring applicants to renounce their current nationalities or to live in Austria.

The Austrian Citizenship Act has, until now, only provided fast track reacquisition of Austrian citizenship by notification for survivors of the Nazi regime who fled the country before 9 May 1945. At the same time, under current case law and administrative practice, descendants of holocaust survivors may have their Austrian citizenship confirmed on a case-by-case basis, provided such descendants and/or, depending on the case, their parents or grandparents have not lost Austrian citizenship after 1955 as a result of voluntary naturalisation and/or military service in another country.

The legislation adopted two days ago in the run up to a general election on 29 September is due to come into effect on 1 September 2020 and goes much further.

Second and third generation descendants of holocaust survivors, including adoptive children, will be able to notify the Austrian authorities that they are Austrian citizens, provided their ancestors survived the concentration camps or fled Austria before 15 May 1955. On this date the allied powers and Austria signed the State Treaty, which from 27 July 1955, restored Austria as an independent state. In addition, second and third generation descendants may have their reacquired Austrian citizenship extended to minor children.

Most importantly, descendants of holocaust survivors will even be able to rely on this legislation if, after May 1955, they have voluntarily acquired other nationalities or engaged in activities such as voluntary military service in the armed forces of another country which otherwise result in automatic loss of Austrian citizenship.

In addition, Austria's new framework for privileged naturalisation will also apply to descendant of citizens of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, provided they were living in Austria at the time.

From September 2020 onwards, notification proceedings may be initiated at Austrian consular authorities around the world or directly at Austrian citizenship authorities and there will be no administrative fees.

DORDA is a major Austrian full-service law firm and has extensive experience in ancestry citizenship cases. For further information, please contact Elmar Drabek (, who heads DORDA's immigration and nationality practice group, or our senior associate Siegfried Prewett (