Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term
Moving to another country is an exciting adventure, but it also involves practical matters like securing a visa or residency permit. Here’s how it works in Austria.
Planning a move to Austria? Then the process will depend on where you are from and why you want to move to the country.
Here’s an overview of the different options available to move to Austria.
EU or Schengen zone passport holders
If you have a passport from an EU or Schengen zone country, then you are covered by the European Union freedom of movement rules. This makes it much easier to move to Austria than for non-EU nationals.
For those that belong to this category, visa requirements do not apply but an Austrian residence permit is required for stays longer than three months.
EU nationals will also have to meet the following criteria:
- Being employed or self-employed in Austria.
- Studying at a recognised Austrian institution.
- Having sufficient financial means to support yourself.
Additionally, EU passport holders have to register their residence in Austria within three days of arriving to receive the Meldebestätigung (proof of residence). This is a required document to get the official registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung).
The application for the Anmeldebescheinigung has to be submitted within four months of arriving in Austria at a local government department responsible for immigration and citizenship.
Third country nationals (non-EU)
In Austria, third country nationals are people who do not hold a passport from an EU or EEA country. If you are in this group, you can travel to the EU (including Austria) for a period of 90 days in every 180 days as a visitor.
This might be enough for second home owners or people that don’t intend to live and work in Austria. But for anyone that wants to stay in Austria for longer, some type of visa or residency permit is needed.
This will often mean beginning the application process in your home country, once you have decided which immigration route to pursue.
One of the most common reasons to move to Austria is for work and - like most countries around the world - skilled workers are in high demand in Austria.
There are three types of work permit in Austria to be aware of: restricted (for one year), standard (two years) and unrestricted (for five years). What you can apply for will depend on your situation.
If you plan to stay in Austria for more than six months then you will also need a residence permit to enter the country. You can get this from an Austrian embassy or consulate before you move to Austria.
The Red-White-Red Card is a permit for qualified workers and their families to live and work in Austria. You need to have enough points based on education, professional experience, age and language skills to qualify.
The points system for the Red-White-Red Card is split into several categories, as detailed below.
Very Highly Qualified Workers – if you score 70 points you can get a Job Seeker Visa to enter Austria and find work. If you receive a job offer you can then apply for the Red-White-Red Card.
Start-Up Founder – to be eligible for this category you need at least 50 points and €50,000 in funds. There are bonus points for being under 35, having an additional €50,000 to invest or admission to a business incubator in Austria.
Graduates – if you graduate from an Austrian university, you can extend a student residence permit for 12 months to find a job or start a business. To stay on a long-term basis, graduates need to earn a minimum of €2,551 per month (2022 rates).
Self-employed key workers – this special category is outside of the Austrian immigration points system. Instead, you need to invest €100,000 into the economy and create jobs or introduce new technologies.
Other key workers – to qualify for this category you need 55 points and a minimum salary of €2,8355 per month for people under 30, or €3,402 for people over 30.
The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is a residency permit that is specifically designed for high earners in shortage occupations who have been offered a job in Austria.
There is no points system for the Blue Card, but you do need to fulfil the following criteria:
- Educated at university level (for at least a three-year programme).
- Received a job offer in Austria which passes the ‘labour market test’ to confirm no-one in Austria or the EU could do the job.
- The salary must be one and a half times the average Austrian salary.
In 2022, the salary requirement means that an applicant has to earn a minimum of €66,593 (before tax) – that’s up from €65,579 in 2021, due to an increase in the national average salary.
However, after 18 months, EU Blue Card holders gain free movement within the EU (apart from in Denmark and Ireland) for the purpose of work. For any Brits reading this and searching for the pre-Brexit days, this is as good as it gets.
To join family members in Austria for more than six months (also known as family reunification), you will need a residence permit.
This category of immigration is for spouses, registered partners and unmarried minors (including adopted children and step children) of those with a residence permit for Austria and is called the Red-White-Red-Plus card.
The Red-White-Red-Plus card allows holders full access to the labour market in Austria, but you do need proof of German language skills at Level A1.
Non-EU passport holders need to apply for a visa prior to entering Austria to study for less than six months.
There are two options: Visa C and Visa D.
Visa C allows you to stay in Austria and move around the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days.
Alternatively, Visa D is for stays of at least 91 days but no more than six months.
For stays of more than six months in Austria for the purpose of education, you can apply for a residence permit after entering the country. This is called an Aufenthaltsbewilligung - Student.
Visit the OEAD website for more information about moving to Austria as a student or researcher.
Not working or retired
For retired people, or those not working and able to support themselves financially, there is the ‘gainful employment excepted’ residents permit, otherwise known as Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit.
This type of permit allows for income through a pension or private funds, but there are limits on how many can be issued in Austria each year.
After five years of continuous residence in Austria with this permit, you can then apply for permanent residency in Austria.
Citizenship is available for international residents in Austria, but it comes at a cost – most notably that applicants have to revoke their original citizenship.
Austria also has a requirement of ten years’ continuous residence (including five years as a permanent resident) to be eligible for citizenship, which is one of the longest naturalisation processes of any European country.
However, this is reduced for someone who has been married to an Austrian citizen for five years and lived in Austria on a continuous basis for six years.
Additionally, there is a special law to allow descendants of victims of Nazi persecution to apply for Austrian citizenship without having to give up their original citizenship.