Third-country nationals - Short-term stay

As a general rule, anyone who travels to another country needs to apply for a visa. Several countries have entered into agreements to waive the visa requirements in order to facilitate mobility.

Visa waiver

Austria has entered into a number of bilateral agreements on visa-free entry. Since Austria’s accession to the Schengen Agreement, such agreements are being concluded between the Schengen area and third countries. The Federal Ministry of the Interior’s list of visa requirements shows which nationals require a visa.

Visa-free entry comes with the same rights as the category C visa (tourist visa). In general, this does not entail the right to take up temporary work. For that purpose, a category C visa (gainful employment) must be applied for. Exemptions from this rule apply to business trips in order to attend meetings, conferences or seminars etc.

Special provisions for artists

Waivers for short-term performances

Special rules apply to the following groups of employed and self-employed artists: 

  • concert and stage performers,
  • circus performers,
  • film-makers, radio and TV professionals, and
  • musicians.

Such foreign artists may be employed without a work permit

  • either for one day  / for one event, or
  • up to eight weeks as part of an overall artistic production.

The purpose of such employment must be to enable

  • a concert,
  • an event,
  • a performance,
  • an ongoing film production, or
  • a live radio or TV broadcast.

However, employment must be reported to the competent regional PES office the day you start work (obligation to notify). 

For the purpose of notification, it is sufficient to send an informal e-mail to the competent foreigners’ unit of the PES. Please enclose a copy of the relevant passports and the arrival and departure details of the artists and culture workers involved.

Even if the artists are nationals entitled to visa-free entry as tourists, they require a C or D visa for such professional activities.

Based on these provisions, artists may pursue several consecutive employments or employments which are at least taking place within the same period of time with different employers in Austria without an obligation of notification arising.

Artists who are third-country nationals but are resident in Austria and hold a settlement permit Artists – Self-employed can also be employed in the same manner for a short period of time.

An Indian film team, for instance, is to shoot a scene for a movie for three weeks in Tirol. Nobody involved (including the support staff, i.e. all foreign nationals taking part in the overall production) needs a work permit, the only requirement that has to be met is notification with the regional PES (ongoing film production). A category C visa must be applied for with the Austrian embassy in New Delhi for all Indian citizens involved.

Category C Visa (gainful employment) – up to 3 months/ Category D Visa (gainful employment) – up to 6 months

Third-country artists and cultural workers who wish to take up gainful employment on a temporary basis in Austria, require a category C or D visa (gainful employment).

This applies to

  • merely temporary gainful self-employment
  • merely temporary employment (based on a work permit or an activity that is exempted from the Act on the Employment of Non-Nationals (Ausländer-beschäftigungsgesetz))
  • an activity as seasonal worker for the exercise of which a work permit is a required, or
  • work as an intern, for which notification is required.

The waivers mentioned above apply to certain categories of artists.

Artistic activities up to six months

Artists who are under contract in Austria for a longer period of time, but no longer than six months, require a work permit and a category C or D visa (Croatian nationals only a work permit). Employers and/or organisers must apply for a confirmation of guaranteed work (Sicherungsbescheinigung) for them, unless they are allowed to enter the country without a visa. This must be issued by an Austrian embassy abroad (not necessarily however in the country of origin). The applications must be filed with the regional office of the PES. Upon presentation of a positive confirmation of guaranteed employment and/or a work permit, the visa will be issued. 

If a confirmation of guaranteed employment had to be applied for, the employer or organiser must then apply for a work permit once the visa has been issued, since the confirmation of guaranteed employment alone is insufficient to be able to take up work. This third and last step is important for artists requiring a visa to enter Austria, as they may be reported to the fiscal police in the event of a check.