Syposium on citizenship law
In her daily work as an ombudsperson Terezika Stoisits is regularly confronted with a variety of problems regarding the enforcement of the Austrian Citizenship Act. For this reason she invited a range of experts on 30 November 2010 to a symposium on citizenship law.
"After changes in the Citizenship Act in 2005 which came into force with no transitional period in March 2006 the number of complaints about the Austrian Citizenship Act has increased dramatically. This had a significant impact on the naturalization process and is very well reflected by the following numbers: In 2004 41.645 foreigners were granted Austrian citizenship, in 2009 only just under 8,000 people were successful in this process”, said Stoisits at the opening ceremony of the symposium.
According to the Austrian Citizenship Act persons who are applying for citizenship have to earn a regular living with a specific average income over a certain period of time. "This financial aspect is often very problematic, because authorities can exert no discretion. This particularly applies to people who find themselves in an emergency situation for which they hold no responsibility whatsoever and are then excluded from applying for citizenship. "The ombudsman has the power to determine cases of maladministration. However in this case authorities are not applying the regulation incorrectly, but the law itself includes several problematic provisions”, said Stoisits.
Lengthy proceedings are also the subject of numerous complaints with the Ombudsman Board. “It is unfortunately fair to say that lengthy procedures are rather the norm and not the exception. It is often forgotten that citizenship is not so much about statistics but about individual human beings and their lives”, concluded Stoisits.