Refugees are entitled to naturalisation after 10 years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Austria, which includes the period of stay during the asylum procedure. The length of the legal stay, and thus the waiting period for obtaining citizenship, has been extended from 6 to 10 years in September 2018. UNHCR and NGOs criticised this prolongation, because the prospect of rapid naturalisation promotes a successful integration process and is desirable for strengthening the cohesion of society as a whole. Citizenship must be granted to a person entitled to asylum after 10 years of residence if the BFA, upon request, notifies that no cessation procedure under the Asylum Act 2005 has been initiated nor are the conditions for initiating such a procedure. For beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, the waiting period is 15 years.
In order to be naturalised, a beneficiary of protection must also demonstrate:
- Sufficient income during the last 3 years;
- Proof of knowledge (B1) of the German language;
- Successful completion of integration course (Werteskurs);
- Absence of a criminal record (Unbescholtenheit).
Refugees and Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection may have faster access to naturalisation in less than 15 years of residence under certain conditions. They may shorten their waiting period if: (a) they have acquired B2-level knowledge of German; or (b) have acquired B1-level knowledge and can prove efforts of personal integration. The at least three-year voluntary work or activity in the social field must serve the common well-being and represent an integration-relevant added value in Austria. If they fulfil these criteria and the general conditions, the waiting period for obtaining citizenship may be reduced to 6 years. In any other case, it is easier for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to obtain naturalisation by obtaining long-term resident status after 5 years (see Long-Term Residence); then, they may be naturalised after 10 years.
As opposed to 2016 and 2017 where respectively 1,244 and 1,252 refugees received citizenship after 6 years of residence due to integration efforts, only one person with asylum-status has received citizenship in 2018 under the new law which extended the waiting period from 6 to 10 years. However, 1,086 persons with asylum status received citizenship in 2018,1,276 in 2019 and 1,022 in 2020.
 Article 11a(4)(1) and (3) Citizenship Act (StbG).
 Article 11(7) Naturalization Act.
Tiroler Tageszeitung, UNHCR kritisiert österreichische Flüchtlingsnovelle, 9 May 2018, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2UYyHad.