Working in Austria as an Artist

When are you considered to be an artist?

You are considered to be an artist when you perform an activity in the field of art. For this purpose, you must be creative and artistic yourself and pursue this work on the basis of your artistic qualifications/aptitude. In any case, you are said to have artistic qualifications when you have completed your studies in art at a university or university of applied sciences.

The following professions are generally considered to comprise artistic activities:

  • Sculptor
  • Painter
  • Drawer
  • Curator
  • Restorer
  • Stage or set designer
  • Interior designer
  • Fashion designer
  • Artistic director
  • Director or producer
  • Quiz master or master of ceremonies
  • Actress/Actor
  • Announcer
  • Singer
  • Dancer
  • Artist
  • Musician

Even if you teach at an art college or art conservatory, you can be considered to be an artist. In this case, you can apply for a Residence Permit – Special Cases of Gainful Employment (“Aufenthaltsbewilligung Sonderfälle unselbständiger Erwerbstätigkeit”) or a Settlement Permit –Special Cases of Gainful Employment (“Niederlassungsbewilligung Sonderfälle unselbständiger Erwerbstätigkeit”) under certain circumstances.

Attention

If you work as an artisan (“Kunsthandwerkerin/Kunsthandwerker”) and only technically carry out or produce the designs or drafts of an artist but do not determine the artistic design yourself, you are not considered to be an artist. If you carry out work in applied arts and crafts and need artistic and handicraft skills to perform this work, you will usually need a trade license (“Gewerbeberechtigung”).  

Note

As a restorer, you can be considered to be an artist if you add to the existing work or restore it as a consequence of extensive damage and if you require artistic skills to do this work. In this case, you are involved in a kind of artistic performance. However, if you only carry out cleaning or conservation work on a work of art, the work is usually considered to be a commercial activity. 

Types of gainful employment for foreign artists in Austria

Employed artist

If you want to work as an employed artist, you must present a written employer declaration (“Arbeitgebererklärung”) in addition to your application for the issuance of a Settlement Permit – Artist. Your employer must declare his or her commitment to adhere to the employment conditions stipulated in the application. The application can be submitted to the Immigration and Residence Authority (“Aufenthaltsbehörde”) by your employer.


Self-employed artist

If you apply for a Settlement Permit – Artist as a self-employed artist, you have to present the relevant contracts with contracting entities in Austria (galleries, theatres, concert halls, etc.) in addition to fulfilling the general prerequisites.


These contracts enable you to prove that you can live from the income derived from your artistic work. One precondition for being granted a Settlement Permit – Artist is that you achieve a certain economic success from your artistic work. A declaration of liability or other types of income which are not artistically motivated (e.g., rental income) are not considered sufficient to substitute for income derived from artistic work.

In principle, your artistic work must fulfil the following conditions:

  • It must primarily involve tasks of an artistic nature.  
  • In principle, the income generated by this work must be sufficient to cover your costs of living.  Specially justified, individual fluctuations in creative output and income can be taken into account (e.g., if exhibitions or performances had to be cancelled as a result of COVID-19).  

If your plans call for salaried employment, your employer can also submit the application for the Settlement Permit – Artist on your behalf. This means you have the following options: 

  • Option 1: Your employer submits the application on your behalf to the Immigration and Residence Authority. This applies regardless of your nationality and the country in which you live at the present time. This option has the advantage that your application is submitted directly to the public authority which also processes your application. Moreover, this option allows you to submit certain documents per email at a later date (for example verifications).  
     
  • Option 2: You submit the application to the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence. If you select this option, your application has to be complete. As a rule, you are not permitted to send any missing documents afterwards via e-mail. Your application is then sent by diplomatic postal services from the representative authority to Austria. For this reason, the immigration process based on this option usually lasts much longer than with the first option.   
     
  • Option 3: If you are allowed to travel to Austria without a visa, you are permitted to personally submit your application to the Immigration and Residence Authority in Austria. This option has the advantage that the application is submitted directly to the public authority which actually processes it. Moreover, this option allows you to submit certain documents per email at a later date (for example verifications).

Attention

Please pay attention to the number of visa-free days you are entitled to! Generally, you have 90 days (out of 180) in which you can stay in the Schengen Area. Once you have used up this allotment of visa-free days, you will no longer be allowed to submit the application in Austria because you no longer legally reside in the country. In this case, you must leave the Schengen Area and wait for the decision of the Austrian authorities abroad.


If you want to work as a self-employed artist, you must personally submit your application for a Settlement Permit – Artist.  This means you have the following options:

  • Option 1: You submit the application to the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence. If you select this option, your application has to be complete. As a rule, you are not permitted to send any missing documents afterwards per e-mail.
  • Option 2: If you are allowed to travel to Austria without a visa, you are permitted to personally submit your application to the Immigration and Residence Authority in Austria. This option has the advantage that the application is submitted directly to the public authority which actually processes it. Moreover, this option allows you to submit certain documents per email at a later date (for example verifications).

Attention

Please pay attention to the number of visa-free days you are entitled to! Generally, you have 90 days (out of 180) in which you can stay in the Schengen Area. Once you have used up this allotment of visa-free days, you will no longer be allowed to submit the application in Austria because you no longer legally reside in the country. In this case, you must leave the Schengen Area and wait for the decision of the Austrian authorities abroad.

Hinweis

In the application process, you have to show basic German language skills (link to the page on German language skills) at an A1 level. Please keep the following in mind:

  • At the time of your application, your German certificate must not be older than one year.
  • In principle, only German certificates from the following institutions are accepted: Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), ÖSD, TELC and Goethe-Institut.

Artists who are striving to do the following artistic work do not have to prove any German language competence:

  • artistic creation in literature, the performing arts, music, photography, film and video art as well as forms of art which are new and experimental or which transcend the boundaries of these art forms,
  • the publication, presentation and documentation of works of art and
  • the conservation of pieces of art and documents.

If you have completed your studies at a recognised university, you do not need to submit any proof of German language skills. Instead, it is sufficient to present your university diploma to the public authorities. Some diplomas need verifications and translations into German or English by a court-certified translator. Find out more about verifications here.

During processing

If the authorities doubt that the work specified in your application involves artistic work, they can request further proof from you. 
If you are an internationally recognised artist and/or you can show that you have signed contracts with well-known theatres, concert halls, galleries etc., the public authorities do not have to further review your application. 
At best, the review will end with the approval of your application.  


After approval

Are you allowed to enter Austria without a visa? As soon as your application has been approved, you can come to Austria and have your fingerprints taken at the Immigration and Residence Authority. Furthermore, you will also have to show your original personal documents - passport, birth certificate, police clearance certificate, etc.). Then, your Settlement Permit – Artist issued in credit card format will be printed. You will only be allowed to begin working as soon as you receive the card.

 


Are you not permitted to enter Austria without a visa? In this case, after you have received approval, you will receive an invitation from the Austrian representative authority (embassy, consulate) in your country of residence. In this invitation, you will be asked to apply for a so-called Visa D within the following three months and to pick up your Settlement Permit – Artist in Austria within a period of six months. In order to receive a Visa D, you will need the following documents: 

  • Application form
  • Passport with a copy
  • Invitation of the representative authority
  • Approval of the Immigration and Residence Authority
  • Travel insurance (coverage of at least € 30,000, valid in the entire Schengen Area
  • Flight reservation

Generally, it will take about two weeks until the Visa D is stamped in your passport. During this processing time, the Austrian representative authority will keep your passport. As soon as you have your Visa D, you can travel to Austria and have your fingerprints taken. Furthermore, you will also have to show your personal documents (passport, birth certificate, police clearance certificate, etc.). Your Settlement Permit – Artist will then be printed in credit card format. You will only be allowed to begin working as soon as you receive the card.


Validity, extension, family reunification

Within the context of the second extension (after residing in Austria for two years), the Settlement Permit – Artist can be issued for another three years. After residing in Austria for five years, you can receive the Long-Term Resident EU permit (“Aufenthaltstitel Daueraufenthalt EU”) in your third extension.

In every extension procedure involved in issuing a Settlement Permit – Artist, the Austrian authorities will check to see if you continue to fulfil all requirements.

Your family members can receive a Settlement Permit (“Niederlassungsbewilligung”) (link). However, this is only possible when all requirements have been fulfilled and quota places are available.

 


Short-term artistic work

Visa-free work

For your short-term artistic work in Austria, you are permitted to enter the country and carry out your work in Austria without a visa if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are generally allowed to travel to Austria without a visa due to your nationality or because you live in a Schengen country and have a valid residence permit. (link)
  • You are not self-employed (i.e., as a rule you are employed) as  
    • a concert or stage artist or
    • belong to a professional group of artists, filmmakers, radio or television employees or musicians.
  • You fall within the scope of a visa-free stay in Austria:
    • for one day (for example to give a concert or perform) or
    • for up to four weeks within the context of an overall artistic production to ensure the implementation of a concert, event, performance, ongoing film production or a live radio or television broadcast.

Note

An overall artistic production is considered to be an event or production with artistic contents based on an overall organisational concept (e.g., concert or theatre tour, total works of art, film shooting). The overall production can consist of several self-contained units (e.g., concerts or theatre performances). To serve its intended purpose, the special provision covers all foreign nationals participating in the overall production, even if their individual work is not of an artistic nature.

In this case, the employment of these people must be reported to the regional office of the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) on the day work begins by the event organiser or producer. The event organiser or producer does not require a visa.

The general prerequisites for a visa-free stay in Austria (for up to 90 out of 180 days) applies. Please make sure that you have a sufficient number of visa-free days for your stay in Austria.


Visa C and Visa C for Gainful Employment

  • You would like to stay in Austria for up to three months.
  • You generally need a visa in order to travel to Austria due to your nationality. (link)
  • You are not self-employed (i.e., as a rule you are employed) as 
    • a concert or stage artist or
    • belong to a professional group of artists, filmmakers, radio or television employees or musicians.
  • You fall within the scope of a stay in Austria as covered by the visa:
    • for one day (for example to give a concert or perform) or
    • for up to four weeks within the context of an overall artistic production to ensure the implementation of a concert, event, performance, ongoing film production or a live radio or television broadcast.

 

You also require a Visa C for Gainful Employment if you work on a self-employed basis.

One thing always applies: A Visa C can only be issued for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days.

You need a Visa C for Gainful Employment (“Visum C für Erwerbszwecke“), a conditional assurance or confirmation of guaranteed work (“Sicherungsbescheinigung”) and a work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”)when you are employed and  

  • you do not work as a concert or stage artist or belong to a professional group of artists, filmmakers, radio or television employees or musicians or
  • you want to work longer than one day or up to four weeks within the context of an overall artistic production.  

Visa D and Visa D for Gainful Employment

  • You would like to stay in Austria for a period of three to six months.
  • You are not self-employed (i.e., as a rule you are employed) as 
    • a concert or stage artist or
    • belong to a professional group of artists, filmmakers, radio or television employees or musicians.
  • You fall within the scope of a stay in Austria as covered by the visa:
    • for one day (for example to give a concert or perform) or
    • for up to four weeks within the context of an overall artistic production to ensure the implementation of a concert, event, performance, ongoing film production or a live radio or television broadcast.

 

You require a Visa D for Gainful Employment if you work on a self-employed basis.

You can stay in Austria for up to six months with a Visa D. 

You need a Visa D for Gainful Employment (“Visum D für Erwerbszwecke“), a conditional assurance or confirmation of guaranteed work (“Sicherungsbescheinigung”)and a work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”)when you are employed and 

  • you do not work as a concert or stage artist or belong to a professional group of artists, filmmakers, radio or television employees or musicians or
  • you want to work longer than one day or up to four weeks within the context of an overall artistic production. 

Special case: secondment

In addition to a posting permit and a work permit, a Visa C or Visa D and potentially a confirmation of guaranteed work may be necessary, depending on the planned duration of the artist’s stay in Austria.

An exception does exist for artists who are posted to Austria for cultural activities within the context of an intergovernmental cultural agreement (“zwischenstaatlichen Kulturabkommen”) or an ensemble guest performance (“Ensemblegastspiel”)which do not last for more than one week. For example, a guest performance by a foreign opera in an Austrian opera house is considered to comprise an ensemble guest performance. 

In such cases, a posting permit and work permit is not necessary. The event organiser or institution in which the artistic works are to be performed must send a notification (“Anzeige”) to the AMS (the Austrian Public Employment Service). This notification must take place no later than on the day work begins.

  • The notification (announcement) must contain the following information about the artists who are posted:
    • Names
    • Date of birth
    • Citizenship(s)
    • Type and duration of their work in Austria
    • Duration of the services rendered within the context of the project (regardless of how long the artists are actually in Austria)

The entire posted staff is covered by the notification of the event organiser. 

Artists whose work involves cultural activities within the framework of an intergovernmental cultural agreement or an ensemble guest performance (not lasting longer than one week):

  • do not need a visa when they do not normally need a visa to travel to Austria because of their nationality or country of residence in the Schengen Area, or  
  • they need a (regular) Visa C/D (without the addition of the word “employment”) when they fall within the scope of the visa obligation because of their nationality.  

Example

A company buys a work of art of a Japanese artist which it wants to install at its corporate headquarters in Austria. For warranty reasons, it is agreed that the artist herself and two of her Japanese employees will install the work of art. The work is expected to last for one week. For this purpose, the Austrian company needs posting permits. The prerequisite for granting the posting permit is that the remuneration which the Japanese employees receive for the work done in Austria is in line with Austrian labour regulations. After the company applies to the AMS for three posting permits and receives them, the artist and the employees can apply for a Visa C for Gainful Employment to the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.

For employees who are posted to Austria in connection to the short-term rendering of services (business meetings, attending trade fairs and congresses, etc.), no work permit or posting permit is necessary. They

  • do not need a visa when they do not normally need a visa to travel to Austria because of their nationality or country of residence in the Schengen Area, or  
  • they need a (regular) Visa C/D (without the addition of the word “employment”) when they fall within the scope of the visa obligation because of their nationality. 

Multiple-entry visa

For this purpose, you must show the necessity to frequently and/or regularly travel to Austria for professional reasons, and, in particular, prove your “integrity and reliability”. For example, this can be demonstrated by showing that you lawfully used past visa. Furthermore, your financial situation in the country of origin is examined as well as your intention to really leave the territory of the Schengen Area before the applied visa expires.

The basis for issuing such a “multi-year visa” can be found in the Visa Code (“Visakodex”).