Which border crossings may be used to enter Austria?
Generally entering via the Schengen internal borders from Hungary and Slovakia, but even via Czech Republic (coming from Poland) are conceivable.
In principle, border controls are no longer carried out at the Schengen internal borders; however, due to both the war in Ukraine and the ongoing COVID-19 situation, increased checks are being conducted at the border.
Without a biometric passport or a valid travel document (visa), further travel within the Schengen area is generally not permitted for Ukrainian citizens (as they are third country nationals). However, a granted (refugee) status of an EU country may result in a different outcome.
An actual list of all Austrian borders can be found here.
Border control time and travel times may be found here.
Under what conditions are Ukrainian people allowed to enter Austria?
As already mentioned, Ukrainian citizens generally need a valid biometric passport for short stays of up to 90 days.
If they do not have such a passport, in general a respective visa (C for stays up to 90 days, or D for longer stays) is needed for entering Austria (in general also if only transit to another EU state is planned; except for mere stopovers at the airport).
This also applies to other third-country nationals (need of a respective visa, however, depending on nationality, there might also be a visa exemption for them for short stays). A list regarding visa requirements of each nationality can be found here.
Currently the Austrian Embassy in Kiev is according to the official information not able to issue visa.
- the Austrian Embassy in Ljubljana,
- the Austrian Embassy in Bratislava or
- at the Consulate General in Munich.
These embassies are currently working on a system to process visa applications at an accelerated rate.
More information on this can be found here (Federal Ministry European and International Affairs).
Most Austrian authorities are currently still relying on these prerequisites.
However, in general Ukrainian citizens may be granted entry or only transit without biometric passport / visa on humanitarian grounds after an individual case-by-case examination (means that there is no guarantee that the authorities take in fact this approach), if the person (i) can prove his/her Ukrainian nationality and identity during the border control, (ii) is not subject to an entry ban or a residence ban, (iii) there is no reason to assume that the person pose a threat to public order or internal security, and (iv) the person can show credibly the above-mentioned circumstances. This approach might in particular be applied to children who do not have an appropriate passport.
Whether this approach might also be applied to other third country nationals is unclear.
From our knowledge, the Austrian Embassy in Bratislava generally takes this position and allows in general entry into Austria without a passport or visa if the identity of the person fleeing from Ukraine can be made credible at the border (e.g. by means of a driver's license or other official identification). The Ministry of Interior has not yet confirmed this procedure.
However, clarity and relief may be come soon, as it is actually discussed about granting Ukrainian citizens a “temporary residence permit” according to an EU-wide directive (the decision on the EU directive is basically expected on Thursday this week, 3.3.2022; on this day also news from the Austrian government regarding a regulation on how to deal with Ukrainian refugees at the border is expected) – please see in detail below. This might also eliminate the biometric passport requirement demanded by the Austrian authorities (however, the concrete implementation in Austria is not clear yet).
Further, there do (still) exist COVID-19 restrictions which have to be observed:
Since February, 22nd entry from all countries is in principle only possible by presentation of 3G - valid (booster) vaccination, proof of recovery not longer than 180 days ago, or PCR test (72 hours validity) or antigen test (except those in self-application; 24 hours validity). In general, if no 3G proof can be presented, quarantine must be taken until a negative test result (PCR or antigen test) is available. Additionally, registration via the pre-travel clearance must generally be made, which can be done here. Children up to the age of twelve are exempt from the obligation to provide proof.
However, for the transit through Austria without stopover no registration and no negative test result/vaccination certificate/health certificate are necessary. At entry it must be ensured that the immediate exit is possible.
If these prerequisites are going to be enforced / how this is going to be handled through people fleeing from Ukraine cannot be exactly predicted at the moment. However, according to the Ministry of Interior, the COVID-19 controls are generally put on the background given the current emergency situation. Until now, (e.g. Syrian) refugees were allowed to enter the country without vaccination or testing. Directly at the border, the refugees were tested with an antigen test and subsequently a PCR test was performed. If necessary, there were quarantine obligations in a provided accommodation. It is assumed, that a similar approach will also take place in the current situation.
How long may Ukrainian people stay in Austria without any specific permit?
All Ukrainian citizens with a valid biometric passport do not need a visa for short stays of up to 90 days within 180 days (however, work is not allowed during such a visa-free stay). Other third country nationals might need a visa also for such short stays. Check this list to see if a visa is generally needed here.
Is there any way to stay longer?
There are multiple options for staying longer in Austria such as applying for a visa or residence / work permit.
For longer stays (from 91 days to a maximum of 6 months), the application for a visa D may be considerated and further a residence permit (e.g. Red-White-Red Card / EU Blue Card etc., however such residency permits are usually only granted are linked to numerous requirements such as special qualifications / knowledge, a points system, a binding job offer, a certain level of earnings, etc.).
However, Ukrainian citizens whose legal stay (e.g. visa-free period of 90 days) in Austria is about to come to an end can apply for a visa for special reasons (humanitarian grounds). The state of war in Ukraine - as long as it lasts - is considered a reason, according to the government's information. If this might also be granted other third country nationals with residence in Ukraine is not yet clear.
The visa request must be submitted at the competent provincial police directorate before the expiry of the existing visa or the visa-free stay.
Further, as Ukrainian people are fleeing from the war, they can in principle also apply for international protection (asylum) in Austria (in general at the border / in an arrival center). This in principle also if an application was already made in another EU country.
However, according to the expected EU-regulation / their implementation in Austria an “official” application (which would also mean to go through a bureaucratic process) might (rather) not be necessary. As already mentioned above, there is currently a discussion about activating an EU directive under which Ukrainian refugees might receive protection in the EU for up to 3 years without going through the “official” asylum procedure. Protection may include, among other things, work permits, access to social assistance and medical care as well as access to education for minors. The decision and the specific form / possible implementation in Austria remain to be awaited.
It is therefore - for the time being - rather recommended to enter Austria with a biometric passport or a Visa C, if necessary, and not to apply for asylum, and wait for the decision / announced regulation of the government.
Are there any special transportation means available?
The Austrian government together with the Austrian rail service provider announced that people fleeing from Ukraine before the war are allowed to use trains of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) for free.; the proof of citizenship (e.g., passport / Ukrainian ID) may be required. The timetables can be found here.
NGOs like “Volkshilfe” or “Caritas” may also provide support / assistance.
When using Austrian highways, a vignette payment is required so far. You may buy it in digital form through electronic system here or even at gas stations along the highway.
Are accommodation and health care provided?
Corresponding preparations are currently underway and appropriate quarters are being prepared.
A central arrival center has already been established in the 2nd district in Vienna – concrete in the “Sport & Fun Halle Leopoldstadt” (address: Engerthstraße 267/269). In Vienna actually at least 300 places are available. Additional quarters are prepared and should be available at short notice.
In Vienna, initial care is provided together with NGOS. At the arrival center advice will be offered as well as medical and psychosocial care.
Further, the Federal Agency for Reception and Support Services (BBU) provides care, counselling and support. They have also set up a hotline for Ukrainians which might be used for needs of assistance, and which can also be used to arrange accommodation and donations in kind.
Temporary housing, food and non-food-items are provided in shelters if Ukrainian citizens do not have the financial means to organize accommodation on themselves.
Hotline: +43 1 2676 870 9460
Further, also a platform for private accommodation has been established where people who want to help, also as regards provision of accommodation can register him/herself ([email protected]). Distribution will then be coordinated by the federal and state governments.
Under what conditions may Ukrainian people work in Austria?
Ukrainian citizens as well as other third country nationals usually require an employment permit in addition to their residence permit or visa to take up employment in Austria. This in general also applies if the Ukrainian citizen or other third country national is working remotely for a Ukrainian company from Austria (as Austrian laws applies as soon as work is performed on Austrian territory).
However, it would generally also be possible to apply for a visa D for the purpose of seeking work at the Austrian embassies in Ljubljana and Bratislava or at the Consulate General in Munich. With this visa for job search, a Ukrainian citizen or other third country national can stay in Austria for up to 6 months and apply for jobs locally in Austria. If he or she found a job during this time, the Ukrainian citizen can apply for a "Red-White-Red - Card" (whether this is granted depends on many different points). Further special rules do apply for seasonal workers / harvest workers.
Further, the status of a refugee might in principle entitle (per se) to taking up employment in Austria (without the need of a further permit).
However, as already mentioned, the concrete legislation on how to deal with the current situation has to be awaited.
Where to look for a job?
We advise to look at the websites https://jobs.ams.at/public/emps/, https://www.karriere.at/, https://at.indeed.com/ and https://www.thelocal.at/jobs/. These are the most widely known online job search portals in Austria.
What is the amount of the minimum salary in Austria?
In principle, there is no statutory federal minimum salary in Austria. However, minimum salaries in Austria are regulated in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), which cover most businesses / employment relationships. This results in minimum wages around EUR 1,500 gross per month for approx. 98 % of employees in Austria– however, always depending on the specific activity, qualification and professional experience (which lead to the specific classification in applicable CBA). Further, as almost all CBAs provide for 14 wages per year (special payments for vacation and Christmas remuneration), the minimum wages actually raise to 1,750 euros gross per month. However, there do still exist branches where no CBA is applicable and therefore also no minimum wage is stipulated at all.
What about foreign diploma or other professional qualification?
“Nostrification" is the recognition of a foreign diploma as equivalent to an Austrian bachelor's, master's, diploma or doctoral degree. Nostrification can be applied for at any higher education institution at which an Austrian degree comparable to the foreign degree is established. In many cases, therefore, several higher education institutions come into consideration. In such cases, it is up to the applicant to choose the university at which to apply for the procedure.
Persons who have completed a foreign professional qualification have the option of having foreign examination certificates recognized. The requirement for recognition is the equivalence of this training with the corresponding Austrian apprenticeship. The application for equivalence is to be submitted to the Federal Ministry for Digitization and Economic Location.
More information can be found here.
Are there any special rules concerning education?
Public schools in Austria in general provide primary and secondary education free of charge. How Ukrainian children might be integrated into schools and kindergartens in Austria has still to be awaited. In principle, however, each federal state in Austria has its own regulations in this regard.
Further links to useful websites
- FAQs on the official website of the Ministry of the Interior including information brochure for Ukrainians in Austria
- Austrian news in English (with often relevant articles for Ukraine citizens)
- Official website of the Red Cross to search for people (if you are in Austria, and have lost contact with relatives in Ukraine)