As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, British people living in Austria at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 can apply to stay in Austria – but the deadline is looming.
Applications for the Article 50 EUV Card should be submitted by 31 December 2021 and the card is mandatory for British people that want to continue living and working in Austria past New Year’s Eve.
Here’s what you need to know about the Article 50 Card and how to apply.
What is the Article 50 Card?
The Article 50 Card replaces all previous residency permits held by British people in Austria. In a nutshell, it’s a post-Brexit residency card.
The application process for the Article 50 Card opened on 4 January 2021, although many people in Vienna have experienced delays.
Mike Bailey, from British in Austria, told The Local: “The Article 50 Card application procedures have been handled differently in Vienna and in other provinces.
“In Vienna, the process takes longer and feedback has shown it has taken between two and 39 weeks before people receive the card.
“Some people in Vienna applied at the start of the year and have been asked three or four times for more information, plus there have been very publicised staffing issues at MA35 [Immigration and Citizenship Department].
“But outside of Vienna it has been a different story with quicker processing times.”
Any British people that move to Austria post-Brexit have to go through the standard immigration channels as a third-country national.
Who needs to apply?
British people that were living in Austria as an EU citizen on 31 December 2020 and want to continue living, working or studying in Austria have to apply for the Article 50 Card – regardless of age or socioeconomic status.
The British in Austria group even advises people with a second EU nationality to apply for the 10-year Article 50 card, if eligible.
This is because the 10-year card offers greater flexibility when it comes to time spent away from Austria, compared to the pre-existing Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts (a legal residency document obtained after five years in Austria as an EU citizen).
Mike said: “We are currently trying to reach out to the remotest corners of Austria by campaigning with, ‘Don’t miss out’.
“Some people have been here for 50 or 60 years and they haven’t applied yet.
“We are also trying to find out how many trailing spouses from other third countries haven’t applied and could be impacted if they haven’t submitted an application by the end of the year.”
If British citizens living in Austria don’t apply for the Article 50 Card they could lose their current rights that are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mike said: “In the worst case scenario they will no longer be eligible for pension upgrades in line with the UK, they will only be allowed to be in Austria for 90 days out of 180 days, they won’t be able to live here permanently and they won’t have access to the employment market.
“If people are unsure about what to do they should visit the British in Austria website and the websites of Austrian government ministries and regional administrations, but the main thing is to apply for the card and apply as soon as possible, just in case there are lockdowns again in the coming months.”
He added: “By applying now instead of leaving it to the last minute there is a chance to appeal or reapply if the application is rejected.”
How many people have applied so far?
The British Embassy in Austria has confirmed to The Local that 7,440 applications for the Article 50 Card had been made by the end of August, which is around 65 percent of UK citizens living in Austria.
There were around 11,500 UK nationals registered in Austria at the end of 2020.
Nerys Jones, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy, told The Local: “It’s very important that British nationals living in Austria now apply for an Article 50 card.
“If you don’t apply before the deadline at the end of December, it will be much harder to stay in Austria from January next year, and you might not be able to access important services.
“We are working hard to reach as many people as possible but are especially concerned about older or vulnerable British people who have been in Austria for some time and may not realise this applies to them.
“Please help spread the message: it’s time to apply.”
In January, the first Article 50 Cards were issued to British citizens in a special ceremony attended by former British Ambassador Leigh Turner and Vice Mayor of Vienna Christoph Wiederkehr.
Turner retired from the post of Ambassador in September but will continue to live in Vienna and recently applied for the Article 50 Card.
How does the application process work?
For people that live outside of Vienna, Article 50 applications take place at the local Bezirkshauptmannschaft or Magistrat where a person lives (Hauptwohnsitz).
In Vienna, applications are processed at MA35, the City of Vienna Immigration and Citizenship department in Arndtstrasse in the 12th district.
In most cases, an appointment has to be made in advance and proof of status will have to be provided, such as a job contract, proof of self-employment, proof of address and ID.
In some cases, additional checks will be made to determine the eligibility of an applicant.
Applicants also have to pay a fee (see below for more information), provide fingerprints and a passport photo.
After applying, each applicant should be issued with an official confirmation of application. If the confirmation is not provided, Mike from British in Austria advises people to request it.
The British in Austria website has an updated list of offices across the country where an application for the Article 50 Card can be made. You can find the page here.
Typically, the process takes a couple of weeks from lodging the application to receiving the Article 50 Card, but it can take longer in Vienna as there are more British people living in the capital than elsewhere in Austria.
However, earlier this year some people experienced delays in applying for the Article 50 Card as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and closed offices.
In February, there were also reports of some British citizens in Austria wrongly having their benefits payments suspended due to misunderstandings of the new post-Brexit rules, as reported by The Local.
The suspension of benefits went against the Withdrawal Agreement and resulted in Ambassador Turner reaching out to the Austrian Federal Government to resolve the issue.
How much does the application cost?
The costs of applying for the Article 50 Card ranges from €0 to around €75.
The difference will depend on how long someone has lived in Austria and whether further documentation is required.
The standard fee is €61.50 but this is waived if a person already has a permanent residency status in Austria that was obtained pre-Brexit.
Permanent residency is gained after living in Austria for five years and meeting the conditions for a residency permit under EU law.