Who does this guide apply to?
This information only applies to married couples in which one member is an EEA citizen and one is not, who are moving to Austria.
What does the Aufenthaltskarte give you?
The Aufenthaltskarte gives residency for up to 5 years, or whatever date is issued on the card. From what I have been told, the authorities usually just grant them for 5 years. It also documents that you are the spouse of an EU citizen who has used their treaty rights to move here, and are therefore exempt from needing a work permit to work in Austria. There is an additional confirmation of this that can be requested from the AMS, but in my experience with potential employers, most have been satisfied with the just the Aufenthaltskarte1.
Prerequisites to apply for an Aufenthaltskarte:
- The EU citizen in your partnership must be making use of their EU treaty rights to move freely. This means that they are either a student, working, self-employed, or a private person with sufficient resources to not become a burden on the social programs of Austria. In practice, this means that when you apply for your Aufenthaltskarte, your EU spouse will need to show their Anmeldebescheinigung, which is a document issued to EU citizens stating that they are allowed to stay in Austria beyond 3 months because they are using their EU treaty rights. When my wife and I visited the government office where we filed our applications, she actually applied for her Anmeldebescheinigung at the same time as me applying for my Aufenthaltskarte, so you don't have to wait for the Anmeldebescheinigung before starting the Aufenthaltskarte process.
- A sub-point to this is that you are not eligible to apply for an Aufenthaltskarte if national law takes precedence over EU law. This would be the case if you were moving here to live with your Austrian-citizen spouse, who has not made use of their treaty rights in the past and are therefore processed under national law and not EU law. Ironically, this often means it is easier for EU (non-Austrian) citizens to move here with their spouses than it is for non-EU citizens to join their Austrian spouses, as EU law is more lax than national law.
- You must have valid "all-risk" health insurance for Austria. I was told it needs to be certified as: "alle Risiken abdeckender Krankenversicherungsschutz mit Leistungspflicht in Österreich gemäß § 11 Abs. 2 Z 3 NAG". If your EU-spouse is already working, you can be insured through them assuming they are insured under the standard social insurance in Austria. Otherwise you will need to take out some other insurance.
- You need to be married. As far as I know, Austria does not recognize common-law relationships, though I can't actually verify this.
- You must prove sufficient financial means. What this means has never been exactly clear to me, and I received a lot of conflicting information about it. Some sources said my wife needed to show 3 payslips. Other sources said we needed to show a certain amount of money in the bank. Given that we were doing this application 2 weeks after arriving, we didn't have 3 payslips from my wife to show. In the end, it was suggested that we open a "Savingsbuch", which is basically a savings account at the bank, and deposit some money into it. We were told that 10000 euros would be sufficient, but we put more just in case. We then took the Savingsbuch and a scanned copy to the government office where our application was processed. Had my wife been working for 3 months prior, I believe they instead would have looked at her monthly income to ensure it was above some minimum threshold. Cursory searches show this to be somewhere around 1300 euros a month for a couple with no children. Regardless, you can expect to have to show some proof of financial security.
- You must have registered for your "Meldezettel" already with the competent authorities. In practice, this meant to us that we had to have signed an apartment lease before we could start the application process. We actually got our Meldezettels and applied for the Aufenthaltskarte on the same day.
- Both of your passports (originals and copies)
- Marriage certificate (original and copies)
- Non-EU person's birth certificate (original and copies)
- Work contracts (both yours and your spouse's if you are both working - I believe this just factors into the financial security aspect as there is no requirement that your spouse be working as long as they qualify for the Anmeldebescheinigung in some other way)
- Proof of health insurance (original and copies)
- Meldezettel(s) (originals and copies)
- Completed application form
Once you have everything in order, you go to the registration office in your city, sit down with a clerk, and file the application. We had someone go with us who spoke fluent German as we are just beginners, and that helped immensely. I think it would have been very stressful if we hadn't brought a fluent German-speaker with us.
In the end, we arrived on May 6th, and I had my Aufenthaltskarte in my hand on May 31st, I don't remember the exact date, but I think we submitted our Aufenthaltskarte application around May 15th. I believe we were quite lucky that it was processed so fast, so I wouldn't rely on being able to get it within a month.
If you are planning on (or already) going through a similar process, feel free to reach out and I can give whatever advice I have. Keep in mind that nothing here is legal advice... It's just the experience of a foreigner moving to Austria with their EU spouse and how they managed to deal with the administrative formalities. While it may seem like a bit of a long and sometimes stressful process, it's worth it to get that little green card that lets me live and work here .
1 If you are asked for the AMS confirmation as well, you just have to go to an AMS office and submit an application form with a couple of documents. It took me 1 hour one morning to deal with the AMS part as my employer also wanted it.