How Britons in Austria can secure post-Brexit residency
With the Brexit transition phase now over, a new residency application process is being rolled out for those British residents in Austria covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Here's what you need to know.
Published: 6 January 2021 17:41 CET Updated: 26 January 2021 14:15 CET
Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP
Brexit has been finalised – but what does this mean for Britons living in Austria? Hayley Maguire explains how Britons can stay in Austria permanently.
What is the new residency permit?
The new post-Brexit residency permit for Britons who were resident in Austria before the end of the transition period on December 31st is known as the Article 50 EUV Card.
The Article 50 EUV Card will be valid for five years, or for ten years depending on how long the applicant has lived in the country for, but they guarantee the right to permanent residency, just as being an EU citizen did.
Any British nationals moving to Austria in 2021 and beyond cannot qualify for the Article 50 EUV card and must apply for a visa as a third country national.
Applications are open
The application process opened on January 4th but there is plenty of time to apply with the deadline for submitting an application is the end of December 2021.
Many residents have already started the process with the first appointments taking place across the country this week.
As this is the early days of a new system being rolled out nationally, some teething problems can be expected. But so far, most people seem happy with the process.
The Local is looking into whether this is the case – so please email us if you have had any difficulties in receiving the 10-year card.
For those that haven’t started the application yet, don’t be alarmed. The process can be broken down into three steps: filling out an application form, gathering the necessary documents and booking an appointment with the Austrian authorities.
Article 50 EUV Card application form
Proof of German language skills is not a requirement for the residency card but the application form is in German, so people without strong German language skills might need some help to fill out the form.
The information to be submitted includes personal data like name, address, date of birth and social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer). The form also asks for the name of the applicants mother and father.
Next, the applicant has to state why they are staying in Austria, such as for work, study or as a self-employed person. As well as provide details about children, a spouse or registered partner in Austria, or any criminal convictions.
Booking an appointment
To submit the application for the Article 50 EUV Card, British residents have to book an appointment with the relevant authorities where they live.
For people in Vienna, this means at the Magistratsabteilung 35 (MA 35) that deals with immigration and citizenship. The first appointments took place on 4 January, in line with social distancing guidelines.
For other provinces, the appointment has to be made at either the Bezirkshauptmannschaft (district authority) or Gemeinde (municipality). For example, in Styria it will be either Leibnitz or Graz.
There are exceptions though, with some provinces not taking bookings for appointments until after the current lockdown has ended. Currently that date is January 24th but things may change depending on the Covid-19 situation.
According to britishinaustria.net, Salzburg and Innsbruck are not yet facilitating appointments, and there are similar reports coming out of Vorarlberg.
What does the appointment involve?
Mike Bailey from British in Austria says the appointments are mainly to process the documents, take fingerprints and hand over a bill for the process rather than to grill applicants about their lives in Austria.
The group’s advice for those in Vienna were mainly wrap up warm, prepare to wait between 20 and 50 minutes, check that your Medezettel is returned to you and check the fee – “it should be no more than €15 for Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts ( permanent residency) – if they charge €75 ask them to check”.
Documents needed to apply
To apply for the permit applicants will need their valid British passport or identity card and documents to show how they will continue living in Austria. This will depend on what has been stated on the form, as detailed below.
So employed applicants will need a work contract from an employer and self-employed people will need a work contract or an income-tax assessment from last year.
Students will need to show confirmation of enrolment at an Austrian educational establishment.
An economically inactive person will need proof of health insurance and financial resources, like a pension.
A husband, wife or registered partner (Familienangehöriger) will need to show the Anmeldebescheinigung (registration certificate) or a wedding certificate.
All applicants will have their fingerprints taken and need to provide a passport photo that is no more than six months old. Finally, the application form has to be signed in front of an employee of the Austrian authority during the appointment.
For some British residents in Austria, the prospect of new bureaucracy is daunting and the British in Austria Network is providing guidance and advice. Mike Bailey says anyone struggling with the process should reach out for help.
He said: “Visit the britistinaustria.net website and don’t panic. The initial indications from people submitting the application are good and it seems to be straightforward.
“But don’t bury your head in the sand. Try to seek help rather than hiding if you’re worried.”
The first applications are now being processed with the first Article 50 EUV Cards expected to be issued in the coming weeks.
How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals
Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.
Published: 30 April 2022 09:33 CEST
The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.
The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members.
But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?
What is EU long-term residence?
Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level.
This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge.
The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).
Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions.
What does the European Commission want to change?
The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it.
Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move.
This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes.
All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.
Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.
EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.
Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications.
The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.
A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits.
The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country.
Why make these changes?
Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says.
Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.
Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.
This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine.
On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February.
Will these measures also apply to British citizens?
These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit.
The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.
As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status.
These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.
What happens next?
The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped.
In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.
EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”.
National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.
The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.