Mag. Balazs Esztegar LL.M.
Attorney-at-law Vienna

Piaristengasse 41/10
1080 Vienna, Austria
Tel. +43 1 997 4102
Fax +43 1 997 4102-99

Studio talk on ORF 2 about dual citizenship

Since last year citizenship law has become an issue that is present in the media. This often leads to the impression that dual citizenship is fundamentally inadmissible under Austrian law. Mag. Balazs Esztegar LL.M., lawyer and an expert on citizenship law, explains that this is not correct as a guest in the studio of "Mittag in Österreich" on ORF 2.

How does a foreigner become Austrian citizen? Is it possible to lose the citizenship? Is a dual citizenship something that is forbidden under any circumstances? These and some other questions have been answered by Balazs Esztegar, attorney-at-law and editor of a commentary to the Austrian Citizenship Act, in an interview on ORF 2. 

He also explained that the loss of Austrian citizenship occurs ex lege as soon as a citizen acquires a foreign nationality. It is precisely such facts that are the focus of interest in the declaratory proceedings, which are primarily related to the reacquisition of Turkish citizenship.He also points out that the frequently used term "illegal dual citizenship" is actually mistaken in this context.

§ 27. (1) Anyone who acquires a foreign nationality on the basis of his application, his declaration or his express consent loses citizenship unless he has previously been granted the retention of citizenship.

This provision of the Citizenship Act is the starting point for the problem of many people of Turkish origin who at some point - often decades ago and still as children - acquired Austrian citizenship by conferring it. The granting of citizenship presupposes the renunciation of all previous citizenships, so that in these cases Turkish citizenship had to be renounced. Apart from a few exceptional cases, the failure to renounce previous citizenship either constitutes an obstacle to granting or a reason for withdrawal, depending on the case constellation.

In the problem cases that arose last year, it often seems that the foreign (often Turkish) citizenship was reacquired after the Austrian citizenship was granted. However, this case differs from the (also inadmissible) retention of foreign citizenship, because it was initially renounced and was only reacquired later, after Austrian citizenship had been conferred.

This is where § 27 (1) StbG comes in, which provides for an "automatic" loss of Austrian citizenship in these cases. In these cases it is no longer necessary to withdraw citizenship at all.

However, such declaratory proceedings do not always end with a declaration that citizenship has been lost. Depending on the situation, there are several starting points for the persons concerned which could possibly prevent the loss or make a re-acquisition possible. Consultation with a lawyer specialising in citizenship law is therefore advisable in any case if one has received a notification of a declaratory procedure (e.g. from the MA35 in Vienna).