Can a US citizen get Austrian citizenship?

This article contributed by the office of Joshua Pex

Can a US citizen of Jewish descent get Austrian citizenship without having to give up on their US passport? The short answer to this question is yes, US citizens can get Austrian citizenship without giving up on their US passport, according to the Austrian “Law of Return.” An amendment to this law that came into effect in the Summer of 2019 has broadened the options for US citizens to obtain Austrian citizenship.

Our office assists eligible individuals, the descendants of Holocaust and persecution victims in Austria, to obtain Austrian citizenship. In this article, we will review the options for US citizens to acquire Austrian citizenship, who is eligible to obtain this citizenship, the process of obtaining dual citizenship, along with an overview of the Jews who were living in Austria during the Holocaust.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with valuable, sought-after information about this subject. However, if you have read the article and still need more information, do not hesitate to contact our office, and we will gladly assist you further.


The History of the Jews of Austria

Before discussing the paths in which US citizens can get Austrian citizenship, let us first learn about the Jewish community that was living in Austria during the Holocaust, how this community was affected by the war when the majority of the community chose to flee the country, and how many of them ended up settling in the US.

In 1938, before World War II began, approximately 176,000 Jews lived in Austria, and many resided in Vienna. After the war, only approximately 4,000 remained in Vienna. While some managed to flee to different areas of the world, many have suffered a much more tragic fate.

It is presumed that about 29,000 Austrian Jews fled to North America, while others fled to other European countries, South and Central America, China, and Israel. Many Jews that left Austria had their citizenship revoked, but fortunately, Austria has set a law enabling the descendants of Holocaust survivors to regain that citizenship.

Who is eligible to get Austrian citizenship?

The Austrian “Law of Return” determines those eligible for Austrian citizenship. By this law, the requestors have to comply with the following demands:

  • Those who are descended from ancestors who the Nazis have persecuted.
  • According to its present-day borders, the ancestor had a center of life in Austria and used to be an Austrian citizen or a citizen of one of Austria’s successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy. They had to flee due to persecution before 05.15.1955.
  • If the ancestor left the country between 1933 and 1945, there is no need to prove persecution.

Before the new amendment of the “Law of Return” which came into effect in September 2020, only the descendants of Holocaust survivors the fled Austria before 1945 were eligible for citizenship. But as you can see, the new amendment states that eligibility applies to descendants of those who fled before 05.15.1955.

How does the process of getting Austrian citizenship through the “Law of Return” works?

If you are eligible to get Austrian citizenship as a US citizen, you will have to go through a specific process.

The first step of the process is preparing the relevant documents which prove the family connection to your Austrian ancestor, as well as documents of the ancestor which prove a center of life in Austria at the relevant time if needed. These documents must be translated to German and be approved by a notary.

Our office specializes in assisting clients in obtaining relevant documents from the Austrian archives. Therefore, if you have any difficulties on the matter, please reach out to us, and we will gladly assist.

After receiving the appropriate authorization for your documents, you will be required to fill out an online form which you can find on the Austrian embassy website. After which, you must send the requested documents to the Austrian citizenship department in Vienna.

It is important to know that the processing of the requests up until the approval might take up to a year and, in some cases, even more than that, so we advise you to approach this process patiently.

Once the requests have been approved, you will be contacted by the Austrian embassy to schedule an appointment to receive your citizenship documentation, after which you can schedule an appointment to receive your passport.

Other pathways for US citizens to get Austrian citizenship

If you are not eligible to get Austrian citizenship according to the “Law of Return”, there are other pathways to get Austrian citizenship.

Naturalization: One optional pathway for US citizens to get Austrian citizenship is naturalization. This applies to those who have married an Austrian citizen. To receive citizenship through naturalization, living in Austria for six years is required.

However, those not married to an Austrian citizen can still get citizenship by naturalization by living in Austria for ten years minimum. Out of these ten years, 5 must have a valid residence permit. In addition, the requestor must be clean of criminal offenses, and proof of a regular and fixed income must be provided unless the requester is disabled or suffers from a chronic and serious illness.

Descent: If you are an Austrian citizen, your children are automatically eligible for citizenship at birth, as long as the parent holding Austrian citizenship is the mother. In cases where the parents are married and the sole holder of Austrian citizenship is the father, the children will be eligible to receive Austrian citizenship as long as the father acknowledges his parenthood.

Red-White-Red card: For American Jews, there is yet another pathway to get Austrian citizenship through the Red-White-Red card, which applies to highly qualified and skilled individuals. Note that to receive a permanent residency, in this case, you must have a regular fixed income that covers your living costs.

Another option is to obtain a permanent residency through investment, with a minimum of 50,000 EUR funding for your startup. The permanent residency will allow you in due time to apply for citizenship through naturalization.

Our law offices specialize in assisting both American and Israeli Jews to obtain Austrian and other European citizenship. To ensure that the process is successful, we perform a thorough assessment of your history and unique need to provide you with the best pathway to Austrian citizenship. Our streamlined processes and immigration solutions have helped many US Jews to get Austrian citizenship.

If you wish to embark on your journey to obtaining Austrian citizenship, contact us to schedule a consultation, and we will help you find the best pathway. Our offices are in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and you can contact us at one of the telephone numbers below.

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150 Menachem Begin st., Tel Aviv, 6492105, Israel, Tel: (+972)3-3724722, Fax: (+972)3-697948

Jerusalem branch address:
10 Yad Harutsim St,. P.O. Box 53347, Jerusalem, 9342148, Israel, Tel:(+972)2-3810013, Fax: