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Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:09 pm
by james00794
Hi everyone! I'm new to Austria (Graz, not Vienna), and just moved here from Canada with my EU (Polish) wife. As part of our move, one of the first things I had to do was sort out how to acquire an Aufenthaltskarte as that is the key to being able to live and work here in my situation. I thought I would write up a bit of a guide for anyone else in a similar situation, as it was surprisingly difficult to find information, and different (often incorrect) information was given to us from various sources.

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.
Required documents
  • 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
Note that you may also need court-certified translations of all these documents if they are not in German. I got them all translated just in a case and I think it helped smooth the application over, but I can't say whether they were definitely needed or not.

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.

Re: Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:51 pm
by morgenhund
Thanks for that - very useful, and might become even more useful once the UK leaves the EU and becomes a third country.

Re: Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:44 am
by Jayphen
Thank you for this guide.

I am looking to move to Vienna with my soon-to-be wife, who is an Austrian citizen. This means that as you mentioned above, I don't seem to be eligible for a Aufenthaltskarte. Is anyone able to give me more info on what I can do in order to stay in Austria, or point me in the right direction?

Re: Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:35 am
by james00794
Are you currently living in a different EU country with your soon-to-be wife? If so, she has utilized her EU treaty rights, and her return to Austria should be processed under EU-law instead of Austrian law. This is basically akin to the "Surinder Singh" method used in the UK, where national law is extremely strict compared to EU law. If this is the case, then you would still be eligible for an aufenthaltskarte, though I am not sure how much experience the government officials here have with this so you may need to convince them of your eligibility by proving that your wife was making use of her treaty rights (I imagine a work contract or apartment lease from a different EU country would suffice).

If this is not the case, then you still have some options. You could apply for one of the work-related visas (RWR card, EU Blue card, etc.), depending on your qualifications and education. In some cases I have heard that these are relatively easy to get, though it's highly dependent on your degree and job prospects. Alternatively you can go the traditional family reunification route. I am not exactly sure what the requirements are for this, and how much stricter they are than the EU-law requirements, but I do know that basic German skills must be proved (A1 level I believe? Maybe someone else can confirm...), and you must additionally sign an "integration agreement" promising to do additional language courses within a certain time frame. You'll have to check the immigration websites for the specifics though.

Re: Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:19 am
by burcu
Hi there, I highly appreciate for this small guide! It is extremely helpful for me. I have an additional question. I'd appreciate if you could help if you know the answer by any chance.I am a non-EU citizen and will move to Vienna to join my German citizen husband. I normally need a schengen visa to visit Austria. Once I will enter to Austria with my valid visa, I'll apply to my Aufenthaltskart. It is likely that my schengen visa will be expired while I wait for the outcome of my application. Can I continue to stay in Austria after my visa is expired or should I leave the country and wait abroad? Thank you very much in advance! All the best

Re: Guide to the Aufenthaltskarte for non-EU spouses

Posted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:54 am
by james00794
Hi burcu,

Sorry, but I'm not sure what the answer is to your question. My interpretation would be that technically, your right to remain is not dependent on the card being issued but is an inherent right based on your marriage, assuming it is legitimate. The card is just documenting that right. On the other hand, I don't think the Austrian authorities would see it the same way, and you might run into some issues the next time you try to leave EU borders if your Schengen visa has expired, even if you have the Aufenthaltskarte at that point in time. I would play it safe and wait for the card outside of Austria if you think that your visa might expire. I was assured by the authorities that I would get my card within a month or two, and am from a country where I can stay in Europe for 90 days visa-free, therefore this wasn't an issue for me and I haven't looked into it much.