Your guide to Austrian residence permits
Wondering who needs an Austrian residence permit and how you can apply for one? Find out all this and more in our guide.
6 min read
If you’ve immigrated to Austria, or anywhere in the EU, you’ve probably had to get what’s called a residence permit. But what exactly is a residence permit, and who needs to get one?
The term “residence permit” comes from the European Union’slaw on asylum and foreign nationals. However, the precise meaning differs from country to country. This article focuses on what Austrian residence permits are and how they work. We’ll explain the different kinds of permits available, who exactly needs one, the specific requirements to getting one, and much more.
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What is a residence permit and who needs one?
Residence permits are documents that enable third-country nationals to reside and work in Austria for a set amount of time. Before we dive deep, let’s define what a “third-country national” is.
In essence, this term refers to everyone who is not entitled to freedom of movement within the EU. That’s anyone who’s not a citizen of an EU member state, the EEA (i.e. the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), or of Switzerland. People in these groups don’t need a residence permit for Austria: if they want to stay in the country for more than three months, they merely need to apply for a registration certificate. Third-country nationals, on the other hand, need to apply for a residence permit if they want to stay in Austria for longer than permitted under an Austrian visa for entry.
What kinds of different residence permits are there?
Before you can apply for a residence permit, you first need to know what kind of residence permit is right for your situation. In Austria, you’ll be issued a different kind of residence permit depending on the purpose and duration of your planned stay. For instance, there are specific conditions that permit relatives, students, researchers, entrepreneurs, or even freelancers to receive a residence permit. Here’s a list of every Austrian residence permit and the requirements for each one.
What are the requirements to apply for a residence permit?
No matter what kind of residence permit you’re eligible for, there are certain conditions you'll always have to meet. These include:
- A secure livelihood.You’ll only get a residence permit if you can prove that you’ll be receiving a regular income for the entire duration of your stay. Depending on your family status, this income must (at a minimum) meet the monthly reference rates for a compensation allowance. As of January, 2023, this amounts to €1,110.26 for individuals, €1,751.56 for married couples, and an additional €171.31 for each child. This needs to be the amount available on your account after deducting all monthly expenses, such as rent and electricity payments. Income that will be received after the residence permit has been granted, such as social security benefits, does not count as proof.
- Health insurance. While you’re in Austria, you’ll need a health insurance plan with comprehensive coverage in case you fall ill.
- Accommodation. You’ll need to provide evidence of an entitlement to accommodation of an appropriate size, such as in the form of a rental agreement.
- A no-risk status. You won’t be eligible for a residence permit if you are deemed to pose a risk to public safety, are associated with terrorist or extremist activities, or may weaken Austria’s relationship with other countries.
Other useful information on the overarching Austrian residence permit requirements, including all the necessary documents, any constraints and the legal basis, can be found at oesterreich.gv.at.
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Applying for an Austrian residence permit for the first time
Most of the time, you must file your initial residence permit application before you even arrive in Austria. To this end, you’ll need to submit your application to anAustrian embassy or consulate (representative authority) in your country of origin, or the country where you currently reside. The application will then be forwarded to the relevant settlement authorities in Austria, who will ensure that all the requirements have been met. If everything looks good, the representative authority in Austria will be informed of your application. Depending on whether you need a visa for entry, an application for the granting of a visa will be filed first, so that you can travel to Austria and collect your residence permit from the relevant settlement authority in person.
That said, there are some exceptions that allow for initial residency applications to be filed in person. They primarily include family members of Austrians, EU/EEA citizens, or Swiss nationals who reside in Austria. Family members are defined as spouses and registered partners of at least 21 years of age at the point of the application, along with unmarried, underage children. If you do not require a visa to enter the country, you may also submit your initial application within Austria[TR1] . Other groups who can apply for a residence permit from within Austria can be found here.
How can you handle your Austrian residence permit renewal?
If you need to renew your residence permit, you should make sure you factor in the processing time. Renewal applications need to be submitted before your current residence permit expires. However, you can only do this three months prior to expiry, at the earliest. Missed the deadline? Under certain circumstances, renewal applications can be accepted even if they are submitted late. For instance, if your renewal application couldn’t be filed on time due to an unforeseen impediment, and you submitted the application within two weeks of the incident in question. Like initial applications, renewal applications need to be submitted to the relevant settlement authorities in Austria.
What are residence cards and permanent residence cards?
Third-country nationals related to Austrians or EU citizens entitled to reside in the country can apply for a “residence card.” They’ll need to apply within four months of entering Austria. It can be used as proof of identity and enables them to freely participate in the Austrian labor market. The residence card is valid for five years.
If you hold a residence card and have spent five straight years living in Austria legally, you can apply for something known as a “permanent residence card.” It serves the same purpose as a residence card but is valid for ten years. Bear in mind that you need to apply for your Austrian permanent residence card before your current residence card expires.
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