Naturalizations – European Court of Justice reprimands MA 35


In Municipal Department 35, the Vienna Immigration Office, an immigration law that is difficult to understand and a chaotic to even malicious administration meet disastrously. The “Wiener Zeitung” reported on such a case a year and a half ago. It was about an Estonian who became stateless because of two traffic fines at once. The European Court of Justice has now decided: wrongly.

The former Estonian has been living in Austria for many years. At the end of 2008 she applied for Austrian citizenship. Years passed, and it was not until March 2014 that she received a positive decision from the Lower Austrian state government. Prerequisite: You must first give up your Estonian citizenship. It would also be possible for Austria to naturalize first and demand that the previous passport be replaced within two years. However, due to concerns about dual citizenship, this is rarely used.

withdrawal of the promise
was not proportionate

Giving up citizenship is not an act of a few minutes. In this case, it took a few months, until August 2015. However, the authority had changed for the no longer Estonian, since she had moved to Vienna in the meantime. Responsible now: MA 35.

Then again, not much happened there for two years. The decision only came in July 2017, almost nine years after the original application, and it was negative. The reason for this was that the woman had meanwhile received two traffic fines. Once the sticker expired, another time she had more than 0.5 per mille on one trip. The two penalties of 112 and 300 euros were not very significant, but now the woman was stateless. The Estonian citizenship was already over. On the other hand, the woman defended herself in court.

The Administrative Court sent the case to Luxembourg for a preliminary ruling. Among other things, he wanted the ECJ to clarify whether Union law applies at all, since the woman was stateless. The European Court of Justice agreed in its decision published on Tuesday very clear.

Although it is legitimate for a country to demand that the previous passport be given up in order to avoid dual citizenship, the ECJ concludes that statelessness should not arise as easily as it did in this case. From the point of view of the Supreme Court, this was not proportionate.

“Safety Threat” Doesn’t Mean “Road Safety”

Accordingly, it is in principle possible to withdraw the promise of an award if there is a risk to public order and security, but this must be interpreted narrowly and may not be “determined unilaterally by the Member States without control by the institutions of the Union”. There must be serious criminal offenses or suspicion of terrorism. The woman, on the other hand, had not even had her driver’s license taken away, but the immigration authorities saw her as a threat to order and security.

Now it’s the Administrative Court’s turn. As in most cases, he will probably agree with the view of the ECJ. Theoretically, Estonia could have naturalized the former citizen again after the unsuccessful award. However, Estonia requires an eight-year stay for this. Austria is not very restrictive here. Anyone who has been an Austrian for ten years and has given up citizenship for another can apply again at any time. Even a short stay in the country is sufficient for this. However, renaturalization is “at the discretion of the authorities”. This can sometimes be a big hurdle.


www.wienerzeitung.at

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