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SECOND HOMES

How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

For some British people, Brexit means they can no longer spend long periods of time at their second home in Austria. But are there any alternative options?

How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?
British second home owners in Austria now have to comply with the EU 90-day rule for third country nationals. Photo by Nina Rath on Pexels.

Since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020, British people with a second home in the EU have had to comply with the 90-day rule for non-EU travellers.

The law means British people can now only spend up to 90 days within the EU in a 180-day period (excluding the country of residence, if living in an EU country).

This is different to a similar law in the UK that allows EU citizens to spend up to 180 days per year in the UK, without having to split it up into two separate blocks.

What does this now mean for British second home owners in Austria? And how can they spend more than 90 days in the country?

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

“It would make life so much easier”

Gerry Stapleton, 73, a retired property developer from the UK, has owned an apartment in Maria Alm, near Zell am See in Salzburg, since 2008.

Before Brexit, Gerry and his partner would visit Austria several times a year, with a prolonged stay in July and August, but this is no longer possible. 

Gerry told The Local: “I would like to be offered the same privilege that EU citizens have when they go to the UK. It would make life so much easier because it’s much more flexible. 

“We enjoy spending time at our Austrian apartment in the summer and the winter but we can’t do that anymore because we will now fall foul of the 90-day rule, which is unnecessary.”

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

In a bid to overcome the limitations of the EU visitor visa rules for non-EU citizens, Gerry has been looking into alternative options. However, as he and his partner are both in their 70s, they are experiencing difficulties.

He said: “We are trying to get residency in Austria and we are 90 percent there. We need to get sufficient medical insurance to show we won’t be a burden on the state but so far no one will cover us because of our age.

“The only alternative is to transfer our benefits from the UK system to Austria, but then we wouldn’t have medical cover in the UK, so we are a bit stuck right now.”

The Local spoke to Patrick Kainz, a Vienna-based immigration lawyer, to find out if there are any exceptions to the 90-day rule.

Kainz said: “Unless you were in Austria before the Brexit deadline and now have the Article 50 card that allows you to maintain your previous rights in Austria, you will be treated as a third country national, which means the 90-day rule applies.”

In the case of retired people, Kainz said the best approach is to apply for a “gainful employment excepted” residents permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) that allows for income through a pension or private funds, but there are limits on how many permits can be issued in Austria each year.

What is the 90-day rule?

The 90-day rule allows British people to visit the EU for up to 90 days without having to get a visa. It is the same rule that was already in place for all non-EU citizens prior to Brexit.

This site has a fuller explanation of how the 90-day rule works, as well as a calculator to allow you to work out your visits.

Here are a few key points to be aware of:

  • The rule allows for 90 days in every 180, so in total in the course of a year you can spend 180 days in Austria, just not all in one go.
  • It is a rolling clock, so the 90 days are always counted from the previous 180 days, not from the start of the year.
  • The rule applies to the whole of the EU, so if you spend three months skiing in Austria you can’t then go straight to the south of France after the end of the winter season.
  • The clock only stops once you leave the EU and head to a non-EU country (which now includes the UK).

So, what are the options for British people that want to spend longer in Austria? Here are a few possibilities.

Visa

The Red-White-Red Card is for qualified or skilled workers from non-EU countries that want to live and work in Austria. If granted, the visa is valid for 24 months and allows visa holders to bring family members with them.

However, there are different types of visa issued under the umbrella of the Red-White-Red Card, depending on the applicant’s professional background.

For example, those with advanced degrees and management experience in the fields of mathematics, informatics, natural sciences or technology are considered as very highly qualified workers. They can initially enter Austria with a Job Seeker Visa, which can later be transferred to a Red-White-Red Card following a job offer.

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy a second home in Austria?

Alternatively, there is a category for skilled workers in shortage occupations, such as engineers, carpenters, physicians, chefs and accountants. For this category, applicants must score a minimum of 50 points in the eligibility criteria (including elementary level German and English language skills), show proof of relevant qualifications and have a valid job offer.

Additionally, there is the EU Blue Card, which is available for non-EU citizens with a job offer in Austria with a salary of at least €66,593.

Then there are several other categories for the Red-White-Red Card, including one for recent graduates from an Austrian education institution and family reunification. Each category has its own eligibility criteria. 

For the full list, visit the Federal Government’s official migration website.

All of the above options are suitable for people that want to live and work in Austria on a temporary basis. But for retired people, or those with an existing job in the UK, they won’t be suitable.

Residency

Applying for residency in Austria is a big commitment and involves giving up residency in the UK (but not citizenship).

It also usually means losing access to the NHS because you will be required to contribute to the social security system in Austria, unless you have private medical insurance.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

Additionally, applicants need to be able to support themselves financially, whether through a pension, income from assets or savings. 

This means single people need a minimum monthly income of €1,030.49 and couples need to earn at least €1,625.71 a month to be eligible. An additional amount of €159 for each child also applies.

Trick/cheat the system

For British people who were used to coming and going in Austria with minimal paperwork or checks it can seem like an attractive option to simply stay in the country for more than 90 days.

However we would not suggest that people try this because passports are automatically scanned when you enter and leave the country, which makes it easy to spot over-stayers.

If you are caught over-staying your allocated 90 days you can end up with an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport which can lead to you being deported and fined, as well as making it difficult to enter any other country – not just Austria.

This is likely to make any future attempts at getting visas or residency a lot more difficult.

Hope for a change to the rules

In some EU countries there are already campaigns ongoing for a change to the 90-day rule for second home owners.

France is one example where British people are calling for the 90-day rule to be scrapped and brought in line with the UK’s 180-day rule.

But immigration lawyer Kainz also doesn’t see any possibility of the rules changing soon.

Kainz told The Local: “I do not see any change to the 90-day rule, at least for the next few years as we try to grapple with the fall-out from Brexit. Maybe sometime down the line it could be more reciprocal but right now I don’t see any indication for that.”

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For members

WORKING IN AUSTRIA

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

If you are moving to Austria and planning to work once you're here, there are a few websites that you need to know.

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

Austria is certainly one of the best countries to work in, with strong labour laws that give employees access to public health insurance through their employers, a minimum five weeks of paid vacation and many rights for families.

The alpine country is also known for its high quality of living. Residents can enjoy cheap public transport, public schools and plenty of free or cheap cultural, sports and leisure options.

There are also many vacant jobs, and the country is aiming to make it easier for foreigners who have qualifications to come fill in those jobs – many in nursing and healthcare professions, but a lot in several other so-called “shortage occupations”.

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

If you are planning to work in Austria, here are a few government or government-linked websites to know.

Migration.gv.at

It may not look very modern, but this website will have most of the things you’ll need if you want to move to Austria – especially coming from countries outside of the European Union.

This is where you will find the infamous “point calculator” to see if you get the minimum amount of points based on specific criteria (such as age, education, and language knowledge) to be able to apply for certain work-based residence permits.

There are also many pages explaining the different visas, permits, and many other issues with migration to Austria. The website has a very extensive and complete English version.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

ABA – Work in Austria

ABA – Work in Austria is a department of the Austrian Business Agency, which operates under the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs in Austria.

The website has plenty of information – in English – about Austria, living and working in the country, and its job market. ABA – Work in Austria also offers services, including relocation and recognition of qualifications.

Vienna Business Agency

Another site aimed at expats and immigrants but connected to the City of Vienna. The website is entirely in English (there is a German version, too), and most of it will have tips and services for businesses and startups settling in the Austrian capital.

However, there is also an extensive advice area for foreigners. 

People moving to Vienna can also schedule in-person and free appointments to receive advice on anything from setting up a company to paying taxes.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

Portal der Arbeiterkammern

This is the Chamber of Labour website, which is an organisation that represents the interests of 3 million Austrian employees and consumers.

Even if you are not a member, it still has plenty of valuable information on Austria’s working and labour market. The website, however, is only in German.

Der Wirtschaftskammer

Also, a local website, WKO is the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, and even though it is only in German, it holds a lot of information, especially on labour laws in the country.

Furthermore, it is possible to schedule a free appointment with an English-speaking representative to answer questions on employment, self-employment, and more.

READ ALSO: Which are the best companies to work for in Austria?

Public Employment Service Austria (AMS)

This is Austria’s official provider of labour-market related services. The government agency offers placement assistance and vocational counselling.

It is also the point of contact for those looking to register as employees, hire people or seek many of the benefits (including unemployment payments) that they are entitled to. It also has a job-looking platform.

Even though a part of the website is in English, most of the pages are in German only. It is also challenging to find people willing to speak English at the AMS offices.

Bonus website: The Local

Besides our news website, with pieces that will help you learn more about life in Austria and be up to date on the latest and most important information, The Local also has a job search platform where you can look for open positions which require only the English language.

Check out our jobs platform here. 

Do you know any other government or government-linked websites that might be useful for people working in Austria? Let us know: [email protected]

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