Settlement and residence of more than 6 months
A residence title is always required for longer stays. There are three groups: Residence permits, settlement permits and red-white-red cards. Red-white-red cards come under the category of settlement permits.
There are general requirements that have to be met at any rate with all settlement and residence titles. This includes sufficient means for a secure livelihood, accommodation and health insurance.
Documents to be submitted:
- valid travel document
- birth and/or corresponding certificate
- with first-time applications: extract from criminal records
- current photo (not older than 6 months; format: 45x35mm)
- if applicable: marriage certificate, certificate of partnership, adoption certificate, proof of family relation
- proof of secure livelihood
- proof of legal title to customary accommodation (e.g. lease)
- proof of health insurance coverage (e.g. mandatory insurance), all risks covered
Secure livelihood (2020)
Additionally, for each child
Pupils/students under 24 years of age
Notional fixed costs
The notional fixed costs are a fictitious amount for monthly fixed costs. If the actual fixed costs surpass that amount, the minimum income is increased by the excess amount.
The amount required for secure livelihood must remain available for use after deduction of monthly fixed costs (rent, social insurance, loan instalments, ….), provided that these costs exceed the amount of EUR 299.95. Savings may also enter into the calculation to a certain extent.
If the fixed costs are lower than EUR 304.45, the amount of EUR 1,000.48 remains the minimum amount required to ensure secure livelihood for a single person in our example. If the fixed costs are higher, the excess amount must be added. With fixed costs of EUR 500 monthly, the notional fixed costs must be deducted in a first step (500 – 304.45 = 195.55) and the result must then be added to the amount of secure livelihood (1,000.48 + 195.55 = 1,196.03). The secure livelihood for which monthly proof must be submitted is therefore EUR 1,196.03 in this case.
Eligibility of savings
Account balances and savings may be used to substitute actual income only if
- the balance or the savings are sufficient for the duration of the residence title,
- evidence is submitted as to the origin of funds and/or to prove that the funds do not stem from illegal sources, and
- the applicant has a legal title (meaning that he or she is actually entitled to the funds).
A single musician applies for a settlement permit as an artist. He will work on a self-employed basis in Austria. His future monthly contribution to social insurance (SVS) is EUR 133.68. The rent for his room in a shared apartment is EUR 360.
Notional fixed costs
Required minimum income =
The musician can provide evidence of future contracts amounting to EUR 8,000. His account shows a balance of EUR 6,500.
The artist applies for a settlement permit for artists for a duration of one year. In this case, a calculation will be made whether the available balance on account can replace the lacking amount.
Annual minimum income
Income from contracts
Bank account balance
The savings are sufficient to prove a sufficient minimum income.
With unlimited residence titles, savings deposits are relevant only if they involve substantial amounts. Unlimited residence titles require a forecast on future income, which will be positive only if the applicant’s livelihood appears to be secured for the long term.
Declarations of liability are permitted, if the person assuming liability can prove sufficient earnings/assets so that the liability declaration is considered to be “viable“. In cases where the applicant has a very low income and a high share of other financial means, the question will arise, as with savings, whether the purpose of stay, i.e. “practicing the arts”, still applies. It would be problematic if the contracts in the above example were for merely one or two thousand euros.
Unemployment benefits and social assistance payments also count as income, since they qualify as insurance benefits and not as social welfare benefits. Support payments due by law or by contract also qualify as income, while voluntary support payments do not count, since they could be discontinued at any time. Grants and scholarships are also considered to be income.
Health insurance coverage
Health insurance may either be mandatory insurance, voluntary insurance, but also co-insurance (e.g. with a spouse). Private health insurance that covers all risk is also possible.
Usually, mandatory insurance will not have taken effect when the application is initially filed. Therefore, private health insurance needs to be taken out to bridge the gap. Travel insurance is also accepted (during the first-instance proceedings). Such insurance must pay out benefits in Austria, have an insurance cover of EUR 30,000 and guarantee defraying any rescue and return costs.
If the residence title is denied in the first instance, you may file a complaint. In such a case, the following applies:
Once the higher administrative court has ruled on the complaint, the court decision will immediately serve as residence title. Therefore, full-cover health insurance coverage needs to be proven as soon as this decision is rendered. If the applicant is not in Austria (because he or she has exhausted the maximum legal stay before the decision was rendered), this is possible only with certain private insurers. Some insurers allow online contracting, see www.feelsafe.at or www.care-concept.at. You will find a list of further insurance companies here.
When you file the application, you already need to have a legal title to customary accommodation. You may submit a lease or a sublease, but also a binding preliminary contract. If the landlord lives at the same address, you may also submit an accommodation agreement on shared use, if it covers the entire duration of the title being applied for or if an unlimited agreement can only be terminated under the conditions customary for leases. If you own an apartment, you need to submit proof of ownership (e.g. land register extract, purchase agreement).
Statements of intent are not sufficient.
Obstacles to a title being granted
A residence title must not be issued if
- there is a valid prohibition in force against the applicant to enter the country (§ 53 Aliens Police Act, FPG) or a valid prohibition to stay (§ 67 Aliens Police Act, FPG);
- there is an expulsion decision by another EEA state or Switzerland in force against the applicant;
- there is an enforceable expulsion decision against the applicant and less than 18 months have passed since his or her exit, unless an application under § 21 (1) Settlement and Residence Act, NAG was filed after the person voluntarily complied with his or her obligation to leave the country;
- there is a marriage, partnership or adoption that was contracted for the sole purpose of obtaining a right of residence;
- the duration of the permitted length of stay with or without a visa has been exceeded in the context of an application for a first-residence title which it was lawful to file in Austria and not solely abroad;
- the applicant was punished with final and binding effect for circumventing border controls or entering Austrian federal territory unlawfully in the past 12 months.
Red-white-red cards were introduced to allow qualified workers from abroad to access the Austrian labour market.
Red-white-red cards are issued for a period of (up two) two years. If you are employed, the card is tied to a defined employer. The proceedings are handled by the competent regional authorities together with the PES in a one-stop-shop process, meaning that only one application needs to be filed with the authority. The application is then handled inter-institutionally between the authorities involved. The residence title issued covers a residence permit and a work permit.
As a general rule, the application must be filed with the Austrian embassy or consulate in the state of residence. If you are entitled to enter Austria without a visa or are in possession of a visa to look for work, you may file this application also in Austria.
The application may also be filed by the employer.
Third-country nationals to whom a red-white-red card was issued must apply with the embassy for a category D visa for entry to Austria, unless they are allowed to enter the country visa free. The red-white-red card needs to be collected personally in Austria.
If, within the past 24 months, you were employed for at least 21 months in line with the requirements of the red-white-red card, you may apply for a follow-up red-white-red card +.
In the following you will find an explanation of red-white-red cards eligible for artists and culture workers.
Very highly qualified key worker
There is a possibility to apply for a red-white-red card (very highly qualified key worker) also for artists.
Anyone who meets the criteria of a very highly qualified key worker may enter Austria for the purpose of looking for work even without a specific job offer using a job seeker visa. This visa is valid for six months. If, during that period, he or she finds an adequate job, he or she may apply for a red-white-red card in Austria.
Nationals who are allowed to enter Austria without a visa do not require a visa to look for work (in most cases, however, the potential length of stay is limited at 90 days).
To obtain a Very Highly Qualified Worker red-white-red card, the following requirements apply:
- general requirements
- minimum number of points (see graph)
- adequate employment and remuneration in line with qualifications (compliance with collective agreements).
- no minimum pay
- no labour market check
The application must, as a general rule, be filed with the Austrian embassy or consulate in the country of residence. If you are entitled to enter Austria without a visa, or hold a job-seeker visa, you may file the application also in Austria.
Employers in Austria may also file the application.
Other Key Worker
Persons who do not meet the requirements of a very highly qualified key worker, may apply for an Other Key Worker red-white-red card.
For this red-white-red card, the following requirements apply:
- general requirements
- minimum number of points (see graph)
- minimum gross pay plus special (bonus) payments (2021)
- EUR 2,775 for those under 30 years,
- EUR 3,330 for those over 30 years
- Labour market check (the card will be issued only if the PES cannot find a person with equal qualifications who is reported unemployed with the PES).
Graduates from an Austrian university
Students from third countries who have completed their studies in Austria have easier access to residence titles.
After having completed their studies, they may extend their residence permit as students by another year without having to enrol in a new study programme in order to be able to stay in the country and look for work. This subcategory of the red-white-red card for university graduates benefits from a number of advantages.
If they find job that is commensurate with their training, they can apply for a red-white-red card for university graduates under the following conditions:
- general requirements
- adequate employment and remuneration commensurate with qualifications, in any case no less than EUR 2,497.50 plus special (bonus) payments
- no labour market check
- no points-based system
Those who are unable to find employment as a key worker (red-white-red or blue card) during that year (less processing time, i.e. within 10 months) may apply for a title as researcher or relative of an Austrian/EU citizen instead of the red-white-red card, but is not allowed to “transfer back“ to (another) study programme. To be on the safe side, it would be worthwhile to consider seeking admission to another study programme, and to accept having to pay tuition fees, so that the student title can be extended.
The red-white-red card for self-employed workers is issued to applicants who, by their future activity, generate a benefit for the Austrian economy, or if that activity is at least of regional significance. This is assumed if one of the following requirements is met:
- the self-employed activity must be linked to a long-term transfer of investment capital of at least EUR 100,000 to Austria or
- the self-employed activity generates new jobs or secures existing jobs.
After two years, a settlement permit to exercise a self-employed activity is issued, which is valid for 3 years.
Other red-white-red cards
Red-white-red card plus
The red-white-red card + entitles holders to settle in Austria for a limited period of time and to freely access the labour market. Defined groups of persons may be granted a red-white-red card +; these are:
- red-white-red card holders and holders of an EU Blue Card, if they have met the requirements of their red-white-red card for at least 21 months in the preceding two years.
- Family members of
- permanently settled non-nationals (e.g. permanent stay EU)
- red-white-red card holders or holders of an EU Blue Card
- defined holders of a red-white-red card plus (who previously held a red-white-red card or a settlement permit - Researcher)
- holders of certain types of settlement permits – special cases of self-employed activities or of a settlement permit - Researcher
The law defines family members as follows:
- spouses and registered partners (over 21 years of age)
- unmarried minor children, as well as adopted and step children
EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is a settlement title based on EU harmonisation efforts. It is similar to the red-white-red card - Other Key Worker, but calls for higher minimum remuneration.
Settlement permit – Artists
Self-employed artists do not require a settlement permit, but a visa (gainful activity of up to six months) or a residence permit (gainful activity of more than six months). On application, evidence of self-employed artistic activity must be credibly demonstrated.
The following requirements must be met for a visa or a settlement permit – Artist:
- general requirements
- proof of artistic activity
You need to exercise or intend to exercise an activity that is predominantly artistic. It does not matter whether the person is an artist, what matters is whether the activity is an artistic one. With some occupations, artistic activity is inherently assumed, e.g. with circus performers, musicians, photographers, fashion designers, artistic directors and related professions (e.g. event managers), dancers (unless the activity is of a purely athletic nature, and not applicable to gogo and/or table dancers). Documents that are suitable as proof include a certificate of artistic education or a description of artistic activity carried out so far.
- Secure livelihood through artistic work
For this purpose, a written contract evidencing artistic activity, e.g. contracts with galleries, theatres or concert halls, must be presented. These contracts must be able to prove secure livelihood. If you do not succeed in proving that your livelihood is secured by submission of these contracts, or by providing evidence of personal funds, you may still obtain a visa or settlement permit, if a person, company or association based in Austria (“host”) submits a commitment letter guaranteeing that all costs are covered. In the commitment letter, the host confirms that they will bear all costs which may arise to the public sector in relation to the artist. This relates in particular to the costs of the aliens police proceedings, should the person in question fail to leave the country after the visa or the settlement permit has expired.
Foreign artists who intend to work in Austria for more than six months require a settlement permit Artist – Employed. This permit must be applied for with the regionally competent immigration authority (municipal administration, district administration authority) and includes a work permit as an artist with the organiser or employer stated in the application. This application is checked by the PES and may only be denied if the impairment of public interest is disproportionately higher than the impairment of the foreign national’s freedom of art.
Therefore, the labour market situation and a potential overrun of the federal or province thresholds (= maximum number of non-Austrians employed in Austria) will be checked to a very limited extent only, as part of weighing the interests of the foreign national’s freedom of art. However, there will be a check as to what kind of employment is involved (employed or self-employed) and whether the remuneration offered is not below that of domestic artists in that field.
Please note in particular that the denial of a work permit for the non-national must not make it impossible for him or her to reasonably practice art. In this context, no assessment must be made on the value of his or her artistic activity, or on the artist’s artistic quality.
A settlement permit – Employed Artist is always tied to the employer stated in the application.
The settlement permit – Employed Artist entitles employed artists also to engage in artistic activity on a self-employed basis, as this activity does not require a work permit.
Settlement permit – special cases of employed persons
This settlement permit is issued for workers wanting to engage in an employed activity which is currently exempted from the Act on the Employment of Non-Nationals (“Ausländer-beschäftigungsgesetz, AuslBG“). For such activities, a work permit is usually not required. All exemptions are listed in § 1 (2) AuslBG.
For artists, two of the listed exemptions are relevant, specifically when they also act in a teaching function:
b) to foreign nationals regarding their scientific, educational, cultural and social work at educational establishments or at institutions of scientific, cultural or social character created on the basis of an intergovernmental cultural agreement;
i) to foreign nationals in public and private entities and companies regarding their scientific work in research and teaching, in the development and furthering of the arts, as well as in teaching the arts, and to their spouses and children;
All activities serving research and development, scientific, including research-driven academic teaching and the generating of new scientific findings are considered to be scientific activities in research and teaching. The notion of “research“ covers basic research, applied research and experimental development. Activities such as academic teaching and developing new approaches to the arts at universities, but also at accredited private universities, are, in particular, considered to be scientific activities in the field of developing and furthering the arts as well as in the teaching of the arts. Purely pedagogical and administrative tasks are not covered by the exemption, neither are artistic activities in arts and crafts businesses or at artistic events.
Temporary stay (residence permit)
Anyone who wishes to stay in Austria on a temporary basis without intending to permanently settle here may apply for a residence permit.
Residence permit - StudentIn addition to the general requirements, this residence permit requires having been admitted to a study programme or having taken up studies, with the following conditions applying:
Regular studies at a
- university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule )
- public or private university of higher education (Pädagogische Hochschule)
- private university, or
- within the framework of university courses (minimum of 40 ECTS points; no pure language courses)
- courses for supplementary examinations in order to be admitted to a study programme
- attendance of individual lectures in scientific subjects, if the non-regular study programme mentioned earlier was completed successfully and the admission or aptitude tests can only be sat for in the following semester for reasons not attributable to the third-country national,
- to establish the equivalence of a foreign degree
- the residence permit - Student can also be applied for after the completion of studies in order to undergo mandatory professional training (e.g. court internship….)
Whenever the residence permit is renewed, academic achievements must be evidenced.
In general, the residence permit - Student is issued for one year. With international exchange programmes, it may be granted for a duration of two years.
Students holding a residence permit - Student may be employed up to a maximum of 20 hours in addition to doing their studies, without any labour market check to establish whether a more eligible candidate is available for the job. However, it is still necessary to apply for a work permit with the PES, which, generally, will be granted for employment of up to 20 hours per week.
Self-employed (artistic) activities are also possible.
Self-employed activities “similar to employment” (freelance contracts for service) also require a work permit to be applied for with the PES. See Labour Law.
After successful completion of the study programme and/or training, the residence permit – Student may be extended for another year for the purpose of looking for work.
As a holder of a residence permit – Student you may only apply for a change the purpose of stay if you hold a red-white-red card, an EU Blue Card, a settlement permit – Researcher or a residence title as a family member.
Residence permit - self-employed
If you are a cultural worker who does not directly perform artistic activities (e.g. cultural managers, event managers, sound and light engineers, …), you may apply for a temporary residence permit – Self-employed.
In addition to the general requirements, you simply need to submit a contract for self-employed activity in Austria. The duration of the residence permit will depend on the contract. If there is any doubt whether the activity is self-employed, the application will be passed on to the PES for confirmation of the self-employed nature of the activity.
Other residence permits
How to apply (in Austria/from abroad)
As a general rule, the initial application must always be filed with the competent embassy abroad. You should not travel to Austria before the relevant decision has been made. There are some exceptions to these rules which are listed in the following:
- family members who are currently lawfully settled in Austria
- third-country nationals applying for a settlement permit – Researcher, a residence permit – Student or a residence permit – Volunteer
- third-country nationals who are in Austria by virtue of a job seeker visa for a red-white-red card, if they apply for a red-white-red card
- third-country nationals entitled to visa-free entry, during their lawful stay.
If you have entered Austria with a job-seeker visa, you are then not allowed to apply for a different settlement permit or residence permit in Austria. This would have to be done from abroad. Only red-white-red cards can be applied for with such a visa.
If you are entitled to enter Austria without a visa, please make sure to apply for a settlement permit as quickly as possible. The proceedings may take a few weeks. If their case is not decided during their lawful stay (usually 90 days), applicants must leave the country and wait for the outcome of their proceedings abroad.