German Proficiency For Residency

News Brief: Nov. 2009

Three people have now been deported under a revised Integration Contract, for having not completed the mandatory German lessons within a five year period, according to a spokesman from the Austrian Interior Ministry in an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten in early October. In principle, the spokesman confirmed that an appeal of the deportation is possible.

With the 2006 revision of the Austrian Foreigners Law, immigrants have been required to complete 300 German lessons and pass a proficiency exam in order to gain a residence permit. Tested at “level A2,” applicants must be able to communicate in the simple, routine situations of everyday life.

The numbers passing the exam have increased steadily since the introduction of the integration agreement: Between 2003 and 2005, 3,715 immigrants passed the exam; more recently, 5,795 passed in 2007 alone. While final figures for 2008 are not yet available, a total of 37,000 people applied for the German courses last year.

For future immigrants, the standards will be even higher: Under the terms of  a controversial new ‘National Action Plan for Integration’ (Nationaler Aktionsplan für Integration), instituted in March by Austria’s Minister of the Interior, Maria Fekter, all new immigrants will have to demonstrate proficiency in German before they enter the country.

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