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BREXIT

Brits in Austria have two weeks left to apply for post-Brexit residency

The deadline to apply for the Article 50 card in Austria is New Year's Eve, with many British people living in Austria yet to apply.

Brits in Austria have two weeks left to apply for post-Brexit residency
Former British Ambassador Leigh Turner applying for the Article 50 Card. Photo credit: Amina Taieb / British Embassy Vienna.

As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, British people who were already living in Austria at the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020 can apply to stay in Austria retaining many of the rights they enjoyed as EU citizens, but the deadline is approaching fast.

Applications for the Article 50 EUV Card should be submitted by December 2021 31st and the card is mandatory for British people who were in Austria under EU freedom of movement laws and do not have another right of residence in order to continue living and working in Austria past New Year’s Eve. If you have another right of residence, such as citizenship of a different EU country, you do not need to apply, but may still want to.

Here’s what you need to know about the Article 50 Card and how to apply.

What is the Article 50 Card?

The Article 50 Card replaces all previous residency permits held by British people in Austria who were living here under EU freedom of movement. In a nutshell, it’s a post-Brexit residency card.

The application process for the Article 50 Card opened on January 4th 2021, although many people in Vienna have experienced delays.

Mike Bailey, from British in Austria, told The Local: “The Article 50 Card application procedures have been handled differently in Vienna and in other provinces.

“In Vienna, the process takes longer and feedback has shown it has taken between two and 39 weeks before people receive the card.

“Some people in Vienna applied at the start of the year and have been asked three or four times for more information, plus there have been very publicised staffing issues at MA35 [Immigration and Citizenship Department].

“But outside of Vienna it has been a different story with quicker processing times.”

British people that moved to Austria after the end of the transition period, in other words from January 1st 2021, have to go through the standard immigration channels as a third-country national.

EXPLAINED: What Brits with EU partners need to know about returning to live in the UK

Who needs to apply?

British people that were living in Austria as an EU citizen on December 2020 31st and want to continue living, working or studying in Austria have to apply for the Article 50 Card – regardless of age or socioeconomic status.

The British in Austria group even advises people with a second EU nationality to apply for the 10-year Article 50 card, if eligible.

This is because the ten-year card offers greater flexibility when it comes to time spent away from Austria, compared to the pre-existing Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts (a legal residency document obtained after five years in Austria as an EU citizen).

If British citizens living in Austria don’t apply for the Article 50 Card they could lose their current rights that are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

There were around 11,500 UK nationals registered in Austria at the end of 2020.

Nerys Jones, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy, told The Local: “It’s very important that British nationals living in Austria now apply for an Article 50 card.

“If you don’t apply before the deadline at the end of December, it will be much harder to stay in Austria from January next year, and you might not be able to access important services.

“We are working hard to reach as many people as possible but are especially concerned about older or vulnerable British people who have been in Austria for some time and may not realise this applies to them.

How does the application process work?

For people that live outside of Vienna, Article 50 applications take place at the local Bezirkshauptmannschaft or Magistrat where a person lives (Hauptwohnsitz). 

In Vienna, applications are processed at MA35, the City of Vienna Immigration and Citizenship department in Arndtstrasse in the 12th district.

In most cases, an appointment has to be made in advance and proof of status will have to be provided, such as a job contract, proof of self-employment, proof of address and ID.

In some cases, additional checks will be made to determine the eligibility of an applicant.

Applicants also have to pay a fee (see below for more information), provide fingerprints and a passport photo.

After applying, each applicant should be issued with an official confirmation of application. If the confirmation is not provided, Mike from British in Austria advises people to request it.

READ MORE: Passport stamps: What British residents in the EU need to know when crossing borders

The British in Austria website has an updated list of offices across the country where an application for the Article 50 Card can be made. You can find the page here.

Typically, the process takes a couple of weeks from lodging the application to receiving the Article 50 Card, but it can take longer in Vienna as there are more British people living in the capital than elsewhere in Austria.

However, earlier this year some people experienced delays in applying for the Article 50 Card as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and closed offices. 

In February, there were also reports of some British citizens in Austria wrongly having their benefits payments suspended due to misunderstandings of the new post-Brexit rules, as reported by The Local.

The suspension of benefits went against the Withdrawal Agreement and resulted in Ambassador Turner reaching out to the Austrian Federal Government to resolve the issue.

How much does the application cost?

The costs of applying for the Article 50 Card ranges from €0 to around €75.

The difference will depend on how long someone has lived in Austria and whether further documentation is required.

The standard fee is €61.50 but this is waived if a person already has a permanent residency status in Austria that was obtained pre-Brexit.

Permanent residency is gained after living in Austria for five years and meeting the conditions for a residency permit under EU law.

Useful links

British in Austria

City of Vienna – Immigration and Citizenship (MA 35)

Austrian Federal Government

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TRAVEL NEWS

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.

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