Which types of visa exist for artists?

Visa C: Travel visa

A travel visa is a classical Schengen visa which is issued both for tourist and business trips. It is also issued for short-term work (with the addition “EMPLOYMENT”). It allows the holder to enter and stay in the territory of the Schengen states. Please bear in mind that visas C are granted for a maximum length of stay of 90 days within 180 days.    When calculating the length of stay, the day of entry in the territory of a Member State is considered the first day and the day of exit from that state is considered the last day of stay.

Visa D: Long-stay visa

Unlike the classical Schengen visa, a (national) visa D issued by an Austrian representation entitles holders to stay up to 6 months in Austria. A visa D issued by Austria or any other Schengen state entitles the holder to move freely within the territory of the other Schengen states up to 90 days within a period of 180 days on the basis of this visa and a valid travel document without intending to engage in gainful activity, provided the general requirements for entry are met and the person is not on the national list of alerts of the member state in question.

Employment with visa (up to 6 months)

Depending on the intended length of stay, a visa D (long-stay visa) or a Schengen visa category C (for short-term work) with the addition “EMPLOYMENT” is required for short-term work in the federal territory of Austria according to the provisions of the Aliens Police Act (Fremdenpolizeigesetz, FPG). This rule (mandatory visa) generally applies also to third-country nationals who are allowed to enter without a visa for other purposes (e.g. tourist trip). Applicants for a visa C or D for short-term work must present themselves personally at the competent Austrian representation and, depending on the nature of the intended employment and after consultation with the representation, submit the required documents. This procedure is not possible for first-time application, the applicant’s integrity and reliability must first be assessed and then regularly checked. Generally, a distinction is made between  

  • Self-employment

Proof of artistic activity (training certificates, earlier engagements etc.) must be presented when filing an application with the competent Austrian representation. Both performing as well as creative artists can apply for a visa, but artistic activity must be predominant (no “singing” waiters). Proof of adequate means of subsistence must be presented in the form of engagement contracts with theatres, concert halls etc. or e.g. agreements with galleries. Depending on the duration of the intended activity, either a visa C Employment or a visa D Employment should be applied for. 

  • Employment

Artists falling under the scope of the Act on the Employment of Foreign Nationals generally require an employment permit to take up employment. Depending on the duration of the intended activity, either a visa C Employment or a visa D Employment should be applied for.

Exception According to sec. 3(4) of the Act on the Employment of Foreign Nationals, foreign nationals who are concert or stage performers, acrobatic artists, film, radio and TV artists or musicians may be employed 1 day or (up to) 4 weeks without an employment permit in the context of an overall artistic production to ensure a concert, an event, a performance, an on-going film production, a live radio or TV broadcast. However, the organiser and/or producer must notify the competent local Public Employment Service (PES) of such activity on the day it is started. In such a case, foreign nationals who require a visa will need a visa C. Persons who are generally visa-exempted may enter without a visa.

Example A Canadian Cirque du Soleil aerial acrobat wants to perform for three weeks in Austria. These performances are part of an overall artistic production, therefore only notification of the PES is required and the artist, who enjoys a visa-waiver status as Canadian national, does not require a visa for this activity.