Visa and Document Verification
As a rule, third-country nationals must apply for a visa to the Austrian representative authority (embassy, consulate) in their country of residence. This is to ensure that they will be allowed to enter and stay in Austria. There are several categories of visa which depend on how long and for which purpose you plan on coming to Austria. Some third-country nationals can enter Austria without a visa, though. This is because they are privileged by visa freedom.
Children of third-country nationals also need a visa so that they will be allowed to enter Austria. A special case concerns newborns (children under the age of six months) if the parents already have a residence permit in Austria.
If third-country nationals want to immigrate to Austria, this immigration process is influenced by the question of visa-free travel and document verification. In particular, the Visa D plays a major role.
Which visa categories are there?
In principle, there are two important visa categories which depend on how long you want to stay in Austria or in the Schengen Area.
The so-called Visa C (“Visum C”) is valid for a maximum of 90 days. It is valid in the entire Schengen area. If you already have a valid Visa C for a country in the Schengen area, you generally do not have to apply for a separate Visa C for Austria. A Visa C can be used for many different purposes. The most important ones are business trips or visits to the country.
The so-called Visa D (“Visum D”) is valid for a period between 90 and 180 days, depending on how long you plan to stay in Austria and what the purpose of your stay is. In contrast to the Visa C, you are not allowed to spend the entire time in another Schengen country, but only up to 90 days. You have to spend the other days in Austria. The most important recognised purposes for the Visa D are:
- picking up a residence permit
- the Job Seeker Visa (“Jobsuche-Visum”)
- longer-term visits
- the Working Holiday Visa
In addition, there is also a so-called Visa A (“Visum A”) for airport transit passengers. This visa is only relevant for citizens of the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Syria.
You must show certain documents when applying for your visa, depending on the purpose of your journey to Austria. This also depends on the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence. In particular, these documents should show that you have a reason for coming to Austria and that you will be able to support yourself during your stay in Austria.
In any case, you need the following documents to apply for a visa for Austria:
- Application form which you get from the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence
- Passport with a copy
- EU passport photo which is not older than six months (plus the invoice for the photo)
- Schengen travel insurance (coverage of at least € 30,000)
- Flight reservation
- Invitation letter or similar documents showing the purpose of your visit
- Visa fee
The processing time depends on which visa you apply for and how many applications the Austrian representative authority is processing at the same time. Your passport will remain with the Austrian representative authority during the processing period.
Did you apply for a residence permit and it was approved? If you are not allowed to travel to Austria without a visa, you need a Visa D for the purpose of being allowed to pick up your residence permit in Austria. For this, you willreceive an invitation from the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence. The invitation will ask you to apply for your Visa D within three months and to pick up your residence permit in Austria within six months.
Some third-country nationals are allowed to enter Austria and the Schengen Area without a visa. This depends on your nationality. For example, citizens of Australia, Bosnia, Serbia and the USA are allowed to enter Austria without a visa.
In contrast, citizens of China, India, Kosovo and Russia are not permitted to enter the Schengen area without a visa.
In most cases, visa-free entry is limited in time. Third-country nationals are only permitted to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. However, in most cases it does not matter in which countries or in how many different countries in the Schengen area they spend up to 90 days.
Exception: Japanese nationals are not only allowed to stay in the Schengen area for 90 out of 180 days but they are also allowed to stay in Austria for up to 180 days.
Third-country nationals who have a residence permit in a Schengen country are also allowed to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 out of 180 days, not counting days of residence in the country of residence.
The updated complete list of visa-free travel can be found on the website of theAustrian Federal Ministry of the Interior.
The immigration process can be longer or shorter depending upon which kind of document verification (“Verifizierung”) is needed for personal documents of third-country nationals. What is particularly important is the issuing country, meaning the country that issued the documents. In this case, the country of residence and citizenship(s) are less or not relevant at all.
Personal documents are documents of your personal status, i.e.:
- Birth certificate (for minors)
- Police clearance certificate (all applicants of age 14 or older)
- Marriage certificate
- Change of name certificate
- Divorce certificate
- Adoption certificate
There are three options:
- No verification or certification is necessary. This is the case for documents which are issued in EU member states or in countries with which Austria has concluded a bilateral agreement on document recognition.
- Apostille: a type of certification which can only be issued by countries which are members of the Hague Apostille Convention. Usually, you apply for the apostille to the public authorities which issued the particular document or a higher-ranking authority. For example, a police clearance certificate is issued by the police or by the Ministry of the Interior.
- Diplomatic legalisation: Documents from countries which do not issue apostilles require a diplomatic or consular certification so that they will be recognised in Austria. After national pre-certification (for example in the case of ministries), the particular document has to be certified by the responsible Austrian representative authority (embassy, consulate). Only then does the document have the complete diplomatic legalisation.
A list of document verification per country can be found here. As this list does not contain all exceptions, it may only serve as a guidance tool in a first step.
The police clearance certificate is a special case among the personal documents. As a rule, it is needed for the immigration process to Austria from third-country nationals who are fourteen years old or older when the application is submitted. The police clearance certificate must not be older than three months when you hand it in to the Austrian authorities. As a rule, there are three options:
- Third-country nationals who have lived in the country of which they are citizens for more than six months. For example, this applies to a Canadian who lives in Canada. These people only need to present the police clearance certificate of this country.
- Third-country nationals who have lived in a third country for more than six months which is not the country of which they are citizens. For example, this applies to a person from Brazil who lives in Turkey. These people generally have to present police clearance certificates from both countries.
- Third-country nationals who have lived in an EEA or EU member state for more than six months. For example, this applies to an Albanian who lives in Sweden. These people must only present the police clearance certificate of the EEA or EU member state.
of visa-free travel and document verification in the immigration process
The Chinese citizen Jia Guihong was born in the Russian Federation. She has lived and worked in Italy for several years, and has a valid residence permit there. She is allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 out of 180 days. The days she spends in Italy are not included in these 90 days. If she wants to immigrate to Austria as a skilled worker, she must present a police clearance certificate. Due to the fact that she lives in an EU country, she has to obtain a police clearance certificate from Italy. She does not need any kind of document verification for this. She must, however, have her police clearance certificate translated by a court-certified translator (“gerichtlich beeidete Übersetzerin/beeideter Übersetzer”) because the document was not issued in German or English.
The Iranian citizen Karim Azmoun was born in Iran and lives there. As a skilled worker, he would like to immigrate to Austria from Iran with his wife Miryam Azmoun. Both of them must obtain diplomatic legalisations for their marriage certificate and police clearance certificates from Iran for the immigration process. First, they have to get national Iranian pre-certifications for their documents. Then they must have their documents translated by a court-certified translator. When this is all finished, they can submit the documents to the Austrian Embassy in Tehran, so that the Embassy finalises the documents with the diplomatic certification. Iranian citizens are not allowed to enter the Schengen Area without a visa. For this reason, Karim and Miryam Azmoun must apply to the Austrian Embassy in Tehran for a Visa D so that they can travel to Austria and pick up their residence permits.
The Canadian citizen Robin Sherman would like to immigrate to Austria. She is allowed to enter Austria and the Schengen area without a visa. She travels to Austria on February 28th. She then stays in Austria for 60 days, until April 28th, so that she can find an apartment and apply for a residence permit. Afterwards, she leaves Canada on May 8th and goes to France, where she spends 14 days on holiday until May 21st. When this time is over, she still has 16 visa-free days in the Schengen area, and can stay in Austria until June 6th to wait for her residence permit to be issued. If she stays in Austria until June 6th, she will first be allowed to enter the Schengen area again on August 28th. When she once again travels to the Schengen Area on August 30th, she can stay in Austria until October 26th (60 days). The reference period is always the preceding 180 days. This means that in this period, she is only permitted to stay in the Schengen Area for a total of 90 days so that her stay is legal.
- Aliens’ Police Act (“Fremdpolizeigesetz - FPG”)
- Aliens’ Police Act Implementing Regulation (“FPG-DV”)
- Visa Code