Bringing your partner to Austria? We outline the basics of the Austria spouse visa, including application requirements, timelines, and arrival tips.
Often topping lists of the healthiest and happiest places to live, Austria is an attractive expat destination. And for many, moving to the beautiful Alpine country only gets better when they can bring their family. Fortunately, with its single application system for all spouse visas, bringing your family with you to Austria should be straightforward and pain-free.
To help you get the process started, this helpful guide provides the following information:
- Austria spouse visas
- Who can move to Austria to join their family?
- The Austria spouse visa
- Short-term visits for family members in Austria
- Joining family members who only have a temporary visa in Austria
- Spouse visas to join refugees or asylum seekers in Austria
- When family members arrive in Austria
- In the event of divorce or death of a family member in Austria
- Austria spouse visa complaints and appeals
- Useful resources
Austria spouse visas
Family members of people working in Austria can apply for the Red-White-Red Plus Card at the Austrian embassy in their home country. Alternatively, if they are already in Austria, applications should be submitted at the local residence authority in Austria. Waiting times can vary but will usually take three to five months before approval.
Although there is no guarantee that an application will be granted, the Austrian government has explicitly stated that it values family reunification. Therefore, provided that you have the appropriate documentation, bringing your family to join you in Austria should be a fairly smooth process.
Who can move to Austria to join their family?
Who doesn’t need a spouse visa to move to Austria?
Citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland (and their partners and children) can move to Austria without a spouse visa. However, if you plan to stay in Austria for longer than three months, you will have to register with the government upon arrival.
Who needs a spouse visa to join their family in Austria?
If your family member is working in Austria and neither you nor they hold European citizenship, you will need a Red-White-Red Plus Card. Fortunately, you don’t need to apply for different visas depending on your relationship to the family member working in Austria; you’ll just need the Red-White-Red Plus Card.
The Austria spouse visa
Who can apply?
If you would like to join your family member in Austria, you must meet one of the following relationship criteria:
- Spouses (aged 21 and older)
- Registered partners, including same-sex partners (aged 21 and older)
- Unmarried minor children, including adopted children and stepchildren
The Red-White-Red Plus Card is valid for one year and can be renewed as long as the sponsor is still legally employed in Austria. That said, if you have been lawfully settled in Austria for two years, and have completed the first module of the Integration Agreement (basic German language skills), you can apply for a three-year Red-White-Red Plus Card.
As a Red-White-Red Plus Card holder, you have unfettered access to the Austrian labor market; so, if you would like to get a part-time or a full-time job, you won’t have any immigration issues. Additionally, you can legally study in Austria; although the fees you pay may be slightly higher and will depend on the institution you wish to attend. Furthermore, you and your family will be able to access some of the social entitlements, such as Austrian health insurance coverage or unemployment benefits, provided you meet certain requirements.
How to apply
If you are a non-EU citizen, the working sponsor in Austria will spearhead the application; this will be processed through the Austrian consulate in your home country. The working sponsor will have to already have a work visa in order for you before you can apply for an Austrian spouse visa. Generally, processing times can range from between three and five months. The following documents will need to be submitted and translations may be required by an official translation company such as Lingoking.
- Valid travel document (e.g. a passport)
- Birth certificate
- A 45x35mm photo of the applicant; taken within the last 6 months
- Proof of income or adequate funds
- Documents proving the relationship to the sponsor (e.g. a marriage certificate, registration of same-sex partnership, or adoption papers)
- Proof of accommodation in Austria
- Health insurance proof
For more information, including application forms, refer to the Austrian migration office website.
The total visa application cost is €160, however, this doesn’t include any translation or other fees you may incur. Depending on the consulate, you may be able to pay cash or use your card, and the fees are due upon submission of the application.
Short-term visits for family members in Austria
To visit a family member temporarily, you’ll need to apply for a special visa through the Austrian consulate in your home country. The specifics of the application, such as fees, required documents, and how to apply will vary depending on the country. Usually, you can apply on your own, however, in certain countries, the Austrian government has authorized certain companies to provide visa services. Required documents also vary, but usually include employment information and proof of sufficient funds and health insurance.
Joining family members who only have a temporary visa in Austria
There are various work visas issued for anywhere between six months to three years, depending on the line of work. Technically, therefore, the sponsor is often on a temporary visa. The possibility of joining family members on a temporary visa will therefore depend on which visa they are on. It will also depend on your nationality because Austria has different agreements with different countries. With this in mind, the best bet is to check with your local Austrian consulate to determine your options.
Spouse visas to join refugees or asylum seekers in Austria
The Austrian government recognizes family reunification as a human right. Consequently, if you are officially recognized as a refugee, you have a right to have your family join you in Austria. Specifically, ‘family’ is defined as the spouse and unmarried children under 18. However, if you have asylum-seeker status, your family may not join you; you have to wait until you are officially recognized as a refugee. Furthermore, the guidelines about family reunification differ depending on your legal status, for example, if you are part of a resettlement program.
For more information about family reunification applications, costs, and such, it’s best to refer to the UNHCR Austria division.
When family members arrive in Austria
Once family members arrive, they should register at their local municipality within three days. Failing to do so can get you fined. Because the family member will be joining the household of the sponsor, they will usually be covered by their sponsor’s health insurance. Beyond this, the family member will have to open a bank account, set up a phone plan, find their favorite grocery store, and the myriad of other things you need to do once you land in a new country.
In the event of divorce or death of a family member in Austria
Sadly, if there is a divorce, the chances of the family member being able to stay in Austria are slim, unless they can find sponsorship through an employer. In cases of abuse or violence, however, the Austrian government can make exceptions and provide the spouse with a work visa. If the sponsoring spouse dies, you should contact the Ministry for the Interior about the options specific to your situation.
Austrian spouse visa complaints and appeals
If the sponsoring family member has all their documents in order, the spouse visa application should go smoothly. However, if your visa application is denied, you will be informed of the decision in writing. Additionally, alongside the decision, the Ministry will provide information about how to file an appeal, including options and timelines.