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IMMIGRATION

How Britons in Austria can secure post-Brexit residency

With the Brexit transition phase now over, a new residency application process is being rolled out for those British residents in Austria covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Here's what you need to know.

How Britons in Austria can secure post-Brexit residency
Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

Brexit has been finalised – but what does this mean for Britons living in Austria? Hayley Maguire explains how Britons can stay in Austria permanently. 

What is the new residency permit?

The new post-Brexit residency permit for Britons who were resident in Austria before the end of the transition period on December 31st is known as the Article 50 EUV Card.

The Article 50 EUV Card will be valid for five years, or for ten years depending on how long the applicant has lived in the country for, but they guarantee the right to permanent residency, just as being an EU citizen did. 

Any British nationals moving to Austria in 2021 and beyond cannot qualify for the Article 50 EUV card and must apply for a visa as a third country national.

Applications are open

The application process opened on January 4th but there is plenty of time to apply with the deadline for submitting an application is the end of December 2021.

Many residents have already started the process with the first appointments taking place across the country this week.

As this is the early days of a new system being rolled out nationally, some teething problems can be expected. But so far, most people seem happy with the process.

READ MORE: What Brits in Austria must do to prepare for the realities of Brexit

Are there any problems?

Mike Bailey, from British in Austria, said: “The general response from our feedback form is that it’s quite a straightforward process and no one has been turned away.”

However, there are delays being reported in some western provinces, such as Vorarlberg and Tyrol, and there are reports of differing amounts being charged for the processing fee.

The British in Austria Network is working with the British Embassy to clarify the issue.

There have also been reports on Twitter that some people are being denied the 10-year Article 50 EUV Card which in effect grants permanent residency.

A Tweet from podcasters @TAutsiders said: “We’re hearing that some Brits are being refused a 10 year EUV 50 Brexit Card despite having the required permanent residency rights.”

The Local is looking into whether this is the case – so please email us if you have had any difficulties in receiving the 10-year card.

For those that haven’t started the application yet, don’t be alarmed. The process can be broken down into three steps: filling out an application form, gathering the necessary documents and booking an appointment with the Austrian authorities.

Article 50 EUV Card application form

Proof of German language skills is not a requirement for the residency card but the application form is in German, so people without strong German language skills might need some help to fill out the form.

The information to be submitted includes personal data like name, address, date of birth and social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). The form also asks for the name of the applicants mother and father.

Next, the applicant has to state why they are staying in Austria, such as for work, study or as a self-employed person. As well as provide details about children, a spouse or registered partner in Austria, or any criminal convictions.

Booking an appointment

To submit the application for the Article 50 EUV Card, British residents have to book an appointment with the relevant authorities where they live.

For people in Vienna, this means at the Magistratsabteilung 35 (MA 35) that deals with immigration and citizenship. The first appointments took place on 4 January, in line with social distancing guidelines.

For other provinces, the appointment has to be made at either the Bezirkshauptmannschaft (district authority) or Gemeinde (municipality). For example, in Styria it will be either Leibnitz or Graz.

There are exceptions though, with some provinces not taking bookings for appointments until after the current lockdown has ended. Currently that date is January 24th but things may change depending on the Covid-19 situation.

According to britishinaustria.net, Salzburg and Innsbruck are not yet facilitating appointments, and there are similar reports coming out of Vorarlberg.

What does the appointment involve?

Mike Bailey from British in Austria says the appointments are mainly to process the documents, take fingerprints and hand over a bill for the process rather than to grill applicants about their lives in Austria.

The group’s advice for those in Vienna were mainly wrap up warm, prepare to wait between 20 and 50 minutes, check that your Medezettel is returned to you and check the fee – “it should be no more than €15 for Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts ( permanent residency) – if they charge €75 ask them to check”.

Documents needed to apply 

To apply for the permit applicants will need their valid British passport or identity card and documents to show how they will continue living in Austria. This will depend on what has been stated on the form, as detailed below.

So employed applicants will need a work contract from an employer and self-employed people will need a work contract or an income-tax assessment from last year.

Students will need to show confirmation of enrolment at an Austrian educational establishment.

An economically inactive person will need proof of health insurance and financial resources, like a pension.

A husband, wife or registered partner (Familienangehöriger) will need to show the Anmeldebescheinigung (registration certificate) or a wedding certificate.

All applicants will have their fingerprints taken and need to provide a passport photo that is no more than six months old. Finally, the application form has to be signed in front of an employee of the Austrian authority during the appointment.

Don’t panic

For some British residents in Austria, the prospect of new bureaucracy is daunting and the British in Austria Network is providing guidance and advice. Mike Bailey says anyone struggling with the process should reach out for help.

He said: “Visit the britistinaustria.net website and don’t panic. The initial indications from people submitting the application are good and it seems to be straightforward. 

“But don’t bury your head in the sand. Try to seek help rather than hiding if you’re worried.”

The first applications are now being processed with the first Article 50 EUV Cards expected to be issued in the coming weeks.

Member comments

  1. A minor clarification – we have posted information received from britishinaustria.net site users in Leibniz and Graz – about specific contacts, other Bezirke and Gemeinde in Styria will naturally also handle appointments through the Bezirkshauptmannschaften (BH).

  2. A minor clarification – we have posted information received from britishinaustria.net site users in Leibniz and Graz – about specific contacts, other Bezirke and Gemeinde in Styria will naturally also handle appointments through the Bezirkshauptmannschaften (BH).

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IMMIGRATION

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Austria's recent Migration & Integration report paints a detailed picture of who are the immigrants in the country, where they come from, the languages they speak at home and more.

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

More than a quarter of Austria’s population has a “migration background”, which, according to the statistics institute Statistik Austria, means that they have parents who both were born abroad, regardless of their own nationality or place of birth.

Though migration is a controversial topic for some, Statistik Austria made it clear that if not for it, the country would simply stop growing.

“Austria’s population is growing solely due to immigration. Without it, according to the population forecast, the number of inhabitants would fall back to the level of the 1950s in the long term”, says Statistik Austria’s director general Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: One in four Austrian residents now of foreign origin

Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Not every person with a migration background is considered a foreigner, though. Many of them have parents who were born abroad but naturalised Austrians before having children, or they themselves became Austrian citizens later on.

This is why despite 25.4 percent of the population having a “migration background”, the number of people with foreign nationalities is slightly lower at 17.7 percent.

So, who are these people? 

German is still the most common nationality among foreigners in Austria (218,347 people). But much had changed since 2015 (when there were 170,475 Germans).

The number of Romanians has almost doubled (from 73,374 to 140,454), bringing them to the second-largest foreigner community in Austria, behind German citizens.

In 2015, Turkish was the second-largest foreign nationality in Austria (there were 115,433), but they are now the fourth (with 117,944 people), behind German, Romanian, and Serbians (121,643).

They are helping Austria get younger

In Austria, most people without a migration background (36.2 percent) are between 40 to 64 years old. The share is also quite large among those with 65 or more years, reaching 21.8 percent.

When it comes to people with a migration background, most are between 40 to 64 years old (34.4 percent), followed closely by the 20 to 39-year-olds (33.5 percent), and then the children and adolescents until 19 years of age (22 percent). Only 10.2 percent of the people with a migration background are older than 65.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Regarding nationalities, Austrians have an average age of 44.8, followed by Germans, who average 41.1. The youngest populations are the Afghani living in Austria (24.9 years old on average) and the Syrians (26.3).

Immigration helps keep the Austrian population younger. (Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash)

Language and education

People with a migration background living in Austria have a different educational profile than the population without a migration background, according to the Statistik Austria data.

They are more often represented in the lowest and highest educational segments and less often in the middle-skilled segment than the population without a migration background.

However, the educational level of immigrants is improving over time, on the one hand, due to increasing internal migration, also of higher educated people within the EU. On the other hand, as a result of the selective immigration policy toward third-country nationals by the Red-White-Red Card, the institution said.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

In 2021, 19.4 percent of the Austrian population had higher education, such as a university degree, and 10.9 percent had only mandatory primary schooling. Regarding foreigners, 29 percent had university-level education and 25.1 percent had completed only their primary school years.

When it comes to children and the language they speak, German was the first language of about 72 percent of the four and 5-year-old children in elementary educational institutions in Austria.

READ ALSO: Austria ranked world’s ‘second least friendly country’

With just under six percent each, Turkish and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BKS) were the most common non-German first languages. Around two percent each spoke Romanian, Arabic or Albanian, followed by Hungarian (one percent).

Less than one percent each for Persian, Polish, Slovakian, English, Russian and Kurdish, respectively, as the first languages. Languages other than those mentioned were spoken by slightly more than five percent.

And who is naturalising Austrian?

Not all foreigners become Austrian, even if they have been in the country for decades. One of the reasons is that the process is expensive, but also because it requires applicants to give up their previous citizenship – something many are unwilling to do.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

According to the report, in 2021, most foreign citizens who naturalised Austrian were from Turkey originally (1,100), followed by Bosnia (921), Serbia (782), Afghanistan (545), and Syria (543).

More than one-third of the people naturalising Austrian last year were already born in Austria, and most of the naturalisations were of young people between 20 and 40 years old.

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