Like visas, applications for all residence permits have to be processed before coming to Austria. It is highly recommended to hand personally in the application documents at the Austrian embassy or consulate in your home country. If you are already in Austria, for example using a class C Tourist visa, you will NOT be able to get any other permits, so start the application paperwork early and from your home country.
There are three types of residence permits:
- Visa (for short stays or visits)
- stay permit ( Aufenthaltserlaubnis: for working or studying but not settling in Austria)
- residence permit ( Niederlassungsnachweis: for settling in Austria)
Remember to apply for your permit before entering Austria. There are some exceptions to this rule for US citizens and highly qualified individuals. If you are lucky and belong to this group, you are also able to make your application in Austria.
The costs for obtaining permits range from €75-130. Your real costs might be significantly higher, as you may need a lawyer’s advice and assistance for special cases.
Education stay permit
This type of stay permit is issued if you enroll at a school or university in Austria. The tricky part here is not getting the visa, but getting into the school or university. Requirements for getting enrolled at universities differ, depending on the course or studies you want to do. In general you always have to prove that you can get a place at a similar university in your home country. Every year during your stay, you will have to report the results of the exams to the authorities in order to get another year’s permit. The cost of living during your studies in Austria may not be fully paid for by working income, but paid in part from your existing funds. Even if you have the education stay permit, you will also need a work permit to get a job. Your spouse and children can also get a stay permit; this is connected to your education stay permit. The best approach to obtain the education stay permit is to get in touch with the Austrian university of your choice quite early to raise the chances of getting onto your preferred courses. Also, university staff is normally very friendly and may be able to help you arrange your permit.
Getting your family to Austria
If you have a residence permit, your spouse and children also automatically have the right to live in Austria. But it’s not that easy, as there is a strict annual immigration quota, so it might take years until your family members can join you. The residence permit issued to them will be connected to yours for at least four years. After that, they may be granted their own, independent residence permit including work permit.
Highly qualified individuals
As in most countries, the chances of getting all required permits increase with your education level. If you qualify as Schlüsselkraft (highly qualified individual) there is a less strict quota and the process is easier and quicker. The requirements are:
- You need to have a university degree or a similar qualification
- Your work will be of special importance for the employer or the area
- Your work will eventually create new jobs
- You bring investment capital to Austria
There are many exceptions and special rules in this case. However, the chances for success are higher if you find a potential employer in Austria who supports your application.
As everywhere, money does make things easier. If you expect to be earning more than €4,200 per month in an executive position you can live and work in Austria without the need for any permits, just a letter from your employer. This also includes your spouse and children. However, ask your future employer to get in touch with local authorities to get the appropriate forms filed.