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VISAS

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.

Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term
There are several options for moving to Austria on a long-term basis. (Photo by Nappy / Pexels)

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.

READ ALSO: ‘I’ll probably return to the UK’: Moving to Austria as a Brit post-Brexit

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.

READ MORE: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

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.

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

Work permits

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.

Red-White-Red Card

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.

Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations – if you score a minimum of 55 points and have a job offer you can apply for a 24-month permit. Professions include engineers, carpenters and nurses.

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.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

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.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

Joining family

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.

Studying

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.

READ NEXT: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

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

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.

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For members

IMMIGRATION

What is Vienna’s MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The city of Vienna now has several new appointment slots for a 'first information meeting' for those wanting to apply for Austrian citizenship. Here's what you need to know.

What is Vienna's MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna, MA 35, is known for long waiting periods, delays and even mistakes being made in applications. It has recently received renewed criticisms as new appointments for Austrian citizenship were not open until mid-2023.

Things got even worse, and applicants now have to wait until October 2023 to get the first appointment. Only after this meeting will they receive another date (sometimes also a year later) to submit the documents asked. 

READ ALSO: ‘Insensitive and inefficient’: Your verdict on Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

Green politician Aygül Berivan Aslan said the reform of MA 35 had “failed”. She said she welcomed the SPÖ’s push towards simplifying access to citizenship but felt that “theory and practice do not match”. Speaking in the Viennese parliament, she introduced a motion for a six-month evaluation of the office.

Aslan also proposed that in the case of delays of more than six months, citizenship costs should be waived for applicants. 

Stadt Wien service screenshot

How bad is the situation?

Not only do people have to wait months for a first talk and then months to submit documents, but once their part is done, the wait is not over. There are currently 3,800 procedures pending for more than half a year in the MA 35, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Integration Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) said.

He justified delays saying that the number of applications had risen by around 30 percent his year in Vienna – only last month, there were 600 appointments booked. 

“The sharp increase can be explained by the eligibility of refugees from 2015 to apply for citizenship as well as by uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine”, he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Bring everything you have’: Key tips for dealing with Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

He added that the goal would need to be “simplifying the procedures nationwide”. However, Wiederkehr also said there were reforms still being implemented in the MA 35.

Wiederkehr said: “On the part of the city, there are ongoing staff increases at MA 35. The training of the employees is so complex that it takes about a year.” 

“In addition to the increase in staff, there was an analysis to optimise some work processes, as well as intensive training. Digitalisation is also being accelerated”, he added.

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