In addition to amendments to the Settlement and Residence Act, the Foreigners Police Act 2005 and the Asylum Act 2005, the ministerial draft on the Immigration Amendment Act 2018 (FrÄG 2018) submitted on 18th April 2018 is also intended to amend the Citizenship Act, namely with regard to the award requirements for persons to whom asylum was granted.
The relevant conditions for the granting of citizenship in Sec. 11a (4) (1) of the Citizenship Act (StbG) are currently as follows:
(4) A foreigner shall be granted citizenship after a lawful and uninterrupted stay of at least six years in the territory of the Federal Republic of Austria and under the conditions of section 10 (1) 2 to 8, (2) and (3) if
1. he/she has the status of a person entitled to asylum, provided that the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum informs upon request that neither a procedure pursuant to section 7 of the Asylum Act 2005 has been initiated nor that the prerequisites for the initiation of such a procedure exist.
The ministerial draft now proposes to delete this provision and to replace it with the following provision codified in a new para 7 to Sec.11a StbG:
(7) A foreigner shall be granted citizenship after a lawful and uninterrupted stay of at least ten years in the territory of the Federal Republic of Austria and under the conditions of section 10 (1) 2 to 8, (2) and (3) if he or she is granted the status of a person entitled to asylum, provided that the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum informs upon request that neither a procedure under section 7 Asylum Act 2005 has been initiated nor that the conditions for the initiation of such a procedure exist.
Thus, the required duration of lawful and uninterrupted residence for persons granted asylum is raised from 6 years to 10 years and is supposed to correspond to the duration according to the discretionary criterion of section 10 para 1 no 1 StbG.
The other provisions of section 11a StbG (such as the shortened residence period of 6 years upon proof of language skills at the B2 level of the CEFR or sustainable personal integration), however, remain unchanged.
It remains questionable whether the proposed new regulation amending the citizenship law will be compatible with Art 34 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Refugee Convention, GRC), according to which the contracting states shall facilitate the integration and naturalisation of refugees as far as possible and shall in particular endeavour to accelerate naturalisation procedures.
According to the envisaged transitional provisions, the new legal situation will apply to applications submitted after the amendment enters into force. Procedures already pending at the time of the change in the legal situation are to continue to be decided according to the current legal situation. This means that persons entitled to asylum should hurry up with their application if they do not (also) fulfil the 10-year residence period (or another favoured award criterion).
Attorney-at-law Balazs Esztegar will be happy to advise and represent you in your application or in the citizenship procedure.