Beyond the EU borders


For Austrian citizens there are visa requirements for many non-European countries and a residency permit is required to be allowed to work. To enter and remain in Austria, artists who are not EU citizens generally need a residency permit. The conditions are laid down in the EU visa code, in the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement, in the Schengen Borders Code and in the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz).

Artists from Austria travel to non-European countries to work in the arts

When Austrian artists travel to a non-EU country, they usually need a visa in order to work there as an artist. Requirements and procedures vary from country to country, and it is therefore advisable to get detailed information from the country's foreign mission (embassy/consulate).

The range of visa procedures and documents needed to apply differ worldwide to a significant degree. In the general travel and security information sections on the Foreign Ministry's website, you will find, inter alia, information on visa regulations by country..

Austria maintains direct diplomatic relations with many countries which are represented by embassies and consulates. Make sure to contact them early as the visa processing can take several weeks or months. All information, prices and modalities regarding the visa procedure (including work permit) are usually found on their websites.

Example

An Austrian musician plans a tour in the USA. She will be performing at various locations over a period of two months. She will need a P visa for which she can find all the details on the website of the United States Embassy.

Artists from non-EU countries come to Austria to work in the arts

Foreign artists who want to pursue an artistic activity in Austria generally require a work permit if the activity is performed under an employment relationship or similar service contract (e.g. called ‘free service contract’ (Freier Dienstvertrag)). Artists working under a genuine contract for services do not need a work permit. The legal framework is the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act.

The  Employment of Foreign Nationals Act does not apply to:

  • EU citizens, EEA citizens, Swiss citizens and their
  • resident third-country national spouses, and
  • resident children under 21 years of age or still dependant.

More detailed information is available on the website http://www.artist-mobility.at.

Self-employed artistic work (temporary residence permit - artist)

Although self-employed artists do not require an employment permit, a visa (gainful occupation for up to six months) or a residence permit (gainful occupation exceeding six months) is required. On application, self-employed artistic activity must be proven in a credible manner.

The following special requirements have to be met for a visa or a temporary residence permit - artist :

  • Proof of Artistic Activity
    The person must be engaged or plan to engage in an activity that is predominantly characterised as artistic creation. The relevancy is the artistic activity and not based on the fact that the person is an artist.

    With some professional groups, an artistic activity is generally taken for granted:

    For example: Performer, musician, photographer, fashion designer, artistic director and related professions (e.g. event manager), dancer (unless practiced as a sport, or as go-go dancing or table dancing).

    Documents suitable as evidence
    : Proof of artistic education or description of previous artistic activity.

  • Secure livelihood from artistic work
    A written contract concerning the artistic activity, for example agreements with galleries, theatres or concert halls, are required. The secure livelihood must be evidenced by such contracts.

    If the secure livelihood cannot be successfully demonstarted by contracts or personal funds, artists can still obtain a visa or a residency permit if the defrayment of all expenses is guaranteed by a commitment letter issued by a person, company or association resident in Austria ('host').

    In the commitment letter, the host confirms that they will defray all expenses the public might incur for the artist. This refers, in particular, to reimbursement for medical treatment in public health institutions (unless health insurance exists) and costs for deportation procedures in the event of non-exit once the visa or the residency permit has expired.

Hint

NO German language skills have to be proven when applying for a Temporary Residence Permit - Artist, nor must they meet the requirements of the Integration Agreement. 

Hint: More detailed information about residence and visa regulations is available on the website http://www.artist-mobility.at.

Employed artistic activity

Any gainful occupation of foreign artists by way of employment or similar contractual relationship (e.g. as free service contractors, 'freie DienstnehmerInnen') requires authorisation under the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz).

This employment permit (Beschäftigungsbewilligung) entitles the foreign national to take up a clearly defined employment (nature, duration, place and employer) in Austria and the employer to employ the foreign national for the clearly defined activity.

Exceptions for short-term performances

Special rules apply for the following groups of artists:

  • Concert and stage artists,
  • Performers,
  • Film, radio and television makers, and
  • Musicians.

These foreign artists may be employed

  • either for a day
  • or four weeks within an overall artistic production

without an employment permit. 

The purpose of the activity must be to secure

  • a concert,
  • an event,
  • a performance,
  • a current film production or
  • a live radio or television programme. 

However, the occupation must be reported to the responsible regional Public Employment Service office on the day employment starts (duty of notification). 

The periods during which foreign nationals may be employed without requiring authorisation apply for a single employer only (organiser or producer). Approval for several employments with different employers must be applied for and approved separately.

Artists having citizenship which allows them to enter Austria as tourists without a visa do not require a visa for such activities.

Hint

Based on these provisions, artists may take up several consecutive or at least chronologically linked employments with different employers in Austria without requiring authorisation.

Example

An Indian film crew is to shoot a scene for a feature film for 3 weeks in Tyrol. Nobody on the crew requires an employment authorisation (including the support staff, i.e. all foreign nationals participating in the overall production), only notifying the regional Public Employment Service is required (ongoing film production). Because Indian citizens require a tourist visa, a C visa must be applied for at the Austrian embassy in New Delhi for each Indian national.

Artistic activity up to six months

Artists engaged in Austria for a longer period not exceeding six months need an employment permit and a D visa (Croatian citizens only an employment permit). Employers or organisers have to apply for a confirmation of guaranteed work (Sicherungsbescheinigung) for them unless they are entitled to a visa-free entry. It has to be issued by an Austrian embassy abroad (not necessarily in the country of origin). Visa-free artists only need an employment permit issued by the aliens police authority in Austria. Applications have to be filed with the responsible regional Public Employment Service office. With a positive confirmation of guaranteed work and an employment permit, the visa is issued. Where a confirmation of guaranteed work had to be applied for, the employer or organiser has to apply for an employment permit once the visa has been obtained, because the confirmation of guaranteed work is not sufficient to take up work. This third and last step is important in the case of artists requiring a visa to enter Austria, the failure to do so could result in an infringement being reported in the event of a check by the financial police.

Artistic activity exceeding six months

Foreign artists who intend to work in Austria for a period exceeding six months need an employment permit. It must be applied for with the regional residence authority competent for the region (municipal department, district administration) and includes a work permit as artist with the organiser or employer named in the application. The application is checked by the Public Employment Service and may be refused only if the impairment of public interests is disproportionately more serious than the impairment of the foreign national's freedom of art.

When labour market interests are weighed against the foreign artist's freedom of art, the labour market situation and any excess of the maximum numbers for a province or nationwide (= maximum number of foreign nationals employed in Austria) are considered to a very limited extent only. What is considered is the nature of employment (self-employed or employee) and that the remuneration offered must not be below that of Austrian artists working in the same field.

Note that refusal of an employment permit must not make it impossible for the foreign national to exercise art in a reasonable manner.

No judgement must be made on either the value of artistic activity, or the artist's artistic quality.

Hint

More detailed information about the residence and visa regulations is available on the website http://www.artist-mobility.at.