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Residency permits For Members

Reader question: Can I live in another EU country with an Austrian residency permit?

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The Local ([email protected])
Reader question: Can I live in another EU country with an Austrian residency permit?
A residence permit in Austria isn't easy to get - and it comes with more restrictions than what EU passport holders enjoy (Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash)

Holding an Austrian residency permit obviously gives you the right to live in Austria - but does it give you any extra advantages when it comes to visiting another EU country, or even moving to one?

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Question: I have a long-stay residency permit in Austria, so would this make it easier for me to move to Germany, since they're both in the EU?

While citizens of the European Union do benefit from freedom of movement - the right to work and live in other EU countries - this same benefit is not extended to long-stay residents without an EU passport.

This means that if you are an American with a long-stay residency permit in Austria, you cannot simply pack up and move to Germany.

Nor can you visit there for longer than 90 days in every 180, as the 90-day rule applies to the rest of the EU once you leave Austria. Time spent in Austria doesn't count towards your 90 days.

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The same is true for education - for instance, if you are a UK national and you are planning to study in Austria (on a student visa), you cannot spend more than 90 days out of every 180 taking a course in a different EU country without a student visa for that country too. While your classmates with an EU nationality might be able to move to Spain for a full semester abroad, the situation is different for you.

READ MORE: Your key questions answered about the Schengen area's 90-day rule

If you want to either move to another EU country, or pay long visits there, you will have to apply for a visa or residency permit in that country, in just the same way as someone moving directly from a non-EU country. In, short, your residency in Austria gives you no particular advantage.

When it comes to taking up work outside of Austria - but within the EU - the principle is the same. Your right to work in Austria is specific to Austria. If you want to take up a job or start university in Italy or Spain for instance, then you will need to fulfil the necessary requirements of that country. 

For those who have nationality from countries that do not benefit from the 90-day rule and are usually required to gain a short-stay visa before entering the Schengen Zone - like India for example - the benefit of your Austrian residency permit, according to the Europa Immigration website, is that you "you can travel throughout the Schengen area for as long as your visa is valid, and for a maximum of 90 days during an 180 day period.

"You will not need a separate visa for each Schengen area country and you will not need to show your passport at each internal border".

How can I move to another EU country?

According to the Europa Immigration site, to obtain a residency permit for a second EU country, you will have to justify the purpose of your stay and meet the country's requirements, which typically include proving at least one or more of the following:

  • Stable and regular financial resources to maintain yourself and your family, including enough funds for your stay and travel back;
  • Health insurance;
  • Appropriate accommodation;
  • If you wish to take up a job, evidence of employment;
  • If you are self-employed, evidence that you have sufficient financial funds;
  • If you wish to study or train, proof that you are registered to do so.

Some countries also have integration measures, like language requirements, that are prerequisites for issuing long-stay residency permits. For those looking to move for work, the situation will depend on the labour market situation of the second country and their policies for issuing work permits. 

READ MORE: What is the EU's plan to make freedom of movement easier for non-EU residents?

If you came to Austria on an EU Blue card, for example - you might think this would be an EU-wide residency permit, but despite its name, an EU Blue Card issued by Austria is only valid in Austria. If you want to move to another EU country, you need to apply for residency in that country.

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Isn't there an EU-wide residency permit?

Sort of. Technically, under a little-known EU law, third-country nationals who have lived legally in an EU country for at least five years can apply for an EU-wide residency status. But in practice, this hasn't gone to plan.

In 2022, the European Commission proposed a directive to review and simplify the concept of 'EU-wide long-term residency status', and the legislation could be completed as early as February 2024, though it could take longer.

MEPs hope to shorten the minimum stay in the EU to three years, instead of five, and to allow people to combine periods of legal residence in different EU member states.

The main objective will be to make long-term residency in one EU country automatically recognised at the EU level - which could remove restrictions such as labour market checks or integration requirements for people who move to another EU state.

However, even with these changes - which are still in the planning stages - people with an EU residency permit would still need to register for residency in the country they live in. The EU card simply provides a streamlined process for them.

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Citizenship

One benefit of living in Austria is that it does give you the right to apply for citizenship - although dual citizenship is quite restricted in Austria, meaning that you may have to give up your original passport if you naturalise as Austrian.

austrian passport citizenship

Austrian citizenship is not easy to acquire. But it comes with EU Freedom of Movement rights. (Photo: Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

Normally, you can apply to become Austrian after ten years of living in Austria. In some cases though, this can be reduced to six. If your application is successful, you become not only a citizen of Austria but a citizen of the EU, which means you benefit from EU freedom of movement.

Then the world - well, the EU in fact - is your oyster. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

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