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Moving to Austria For Members

EXPLAINED: Who needs to take Austria’s integration exam?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Who needs to take Austria’s integration exam?
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Not everyone who moves to Austria has to take the integration exam. We explain who has to take it, and what you need to know about it.

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Taking an exam is never an enjoyable experience – especially when a visa or right-to-remain status depends on the result, like with Austria’s integration exam. 

But what exactly does the test entail? And how good does your German have to be?

Here’s a guide to the exam, including who needs to take it and what to expect.

FOR MEMBERS: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term

What is the integration exam?

The integration exam is part of Austria's "integration agreement", which serves to "integrate third-country nationals who are legally settled in Austria", according to the Austrian Federal Government. It also aims to facilitate the "acquisition of advanced German language skills and knowledge of the democratic system". 

The language section of the exam involves reading, listening, speaking and writing. The values and orientation section comprises a set of questions about life in Austria.

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Who needs to take the exam?

Depending on the end immigration goal and visa route, third-country nationals (non-EU or EEA citizens) need to take one or two “modules” of the integration agreement.

To pass Module 1, you need German language skills at level A2 and knowledge of the fundamental values of the legal and social systems in Austria. You have two years from the date of being granted a residence permit to pass the module.

Module 1 is required for the following permits:

  • Red-White-Red Card
  • Red-White-Red Card plus
  • Settlement Permit
  • Settlement Permit – Gainful Employment Excepted
  • Settlement Permit – Special Cases of Dependent Gainful Occupation
  • Settlement Permit – Artists
  • Settlement Permit – Dependant
  • Family Member

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

Confusingly though, there are some exceptions. For example, some permits (like the Red-White-Red card) are granted on a points-based system, which means an applicant might not have to do the integration exam. 

Other exceptions are holders of a Stay Permit, EU Blue Card, Settlement Permit - Researcher and the Long-term Residence Card.

Certain groups are also exempt from Module 1, including underage third-country nationals, third-country nationals in bad health condition (a medical report by a public health officer has to be provided) and a third-country citizen who has declared in writing that they will not stay in Austria for more than 12 months in 24 months.

You can complete Module 1 by showing proof of German and passing the Integration exam, but also by other means. For example, people with a "school-leaving certificate with general eligibility for university admission", an equivalent to the Austrian Matura, don't need to fulfil Module 1. If your country doesn't have a Matura, it's usually enough to show proof of attendance at a university level.

Holders of a "residence permit - artists", similar to holders of the Red-White-Red, are also considered to have completed the Module. 

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

Module 2 of the integration exam is for granting a long-term residence permit, such as Long-term resident - EU or citizenship. To pass, immigrants also have to prove German language skills at level B1 and have advanced knowledge of Austria's social and legal systems.

However, the following people are exempt from completing Module 2: 

  • Third-country minors who are not yet subject to compulsory education when applying.
  • Third-country nationals in a permanently bad physical or mental health condition.

Additionally, there are several situations when Module 2 is deemed to be completed, including being a minor in Austria and attending Volksschule (primary school). You can find a full list of the exemptions for Module 2 here.

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What is in the integration exam?

For the completion of Module 1, the German test is to prove A2 level, and you can find an online example here.

The civil exam, which should prove integration and knowledge of Austria's democratic system and history, is perhaps the one that causes more concern to those applying. Topics include human rights, work and basic laws. You can find a training test online here.

Useful links

Sprachportal from Integrationsfonds

Österreichische Sprachdiplom Deutsch

Living and working in Austria

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