8 April 2022
Leaving Ukraine – 1 of 11 Insights
Generally, entering via the Schengen internal borders from Hungary and Slovakia, but also via the Czech Republic (coming from Poland) is 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), onward travel within the Schengen area is generally not permitted for Ukrainian citizens (as they are third-country nationals).
However, if a Ukrainian citizen (without a visa or residence permit) has been evacuated to a neighbouring country and has received an entry stamp in his/her passport for entry into the Schengen area, entry into Austria for the purpose of onward travel is possible. The entry stamp affixed in the passport upon entry constitutes an entry permit of a Schengen state bordering Ukraine. This entry permit extends - for the purpose of transit and immediate departure to the home country - to the entire Schengen area, thus also to the Austrian territory, regardless of whether Austria carries out internal border controls or not. The Ukrainian citizen may legally stay in Austria for as long as it is necessary for the purpose of the earliest possible onward journey to his or her home country.
A current list of all Austrian borders can be found here.
Border control times and travel times may be found here.
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, a respective visa (C for stays of up to 90 days or D for longer stays) is generally needed for entering Austria (as a rule, even if only transit to another EU state is planned; except for mere stopovers at the airport).
This also applies to other third-country nationals (in 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 for each nationality can be found here.
According to official information, the Austrian Embassy in Kyiv is currently not able to issue visas. However, these embassies are currently working on a system to process visa applications at an accelerated rate:
Further information can be found here
In general, however, Ukrainian citizens may be granted entry or only transit without a biometric passport / visa on humanitarian grounds after an individual case-by-case assessment (this means that there is no guarantee that the authorities will in fact take this approach – however, in practice this is usually the case), if the person:
Since 22 February 2022, entry from all countries is in principle only possible upon presentation of a valid 3G proof - (booster) vaccination, proof of recovery not longer than 180 days ago, or a 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 imposed until a negative test result (PCR or antigen test) is available. Additionally, registration via the pre-travel clearance must be carried out, which can be done here. Children up to the age of twelve are exempt from the obligation to provide proof.
However, no registration and no negative test result/vaccination certificate/health certificate are required for transit through Austria without a stopover. Upon entry, it must be ensured that immediate exit is possible.
Anyway, according to the Ministry of Interior, the COVID-19 checks are generally put on hold given the current emergency situation. Persons entering the country due to military conflict are exempt from the application of entry requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 even for such short stays. Check this list to see if a visa is generally needed.
In Austria, the Regulation on Displaced Persons (Vertriebenen-Verordnung) has been in force since 11 March 2022. This is based on the Mass Influx Directive of the EU. The “Vertriebenen-Verordnung” grants persons who had to flee Ukraine due to the war as of 24 February 2022 a temporary right of residence (including full access to the labour market, full health care, schooling and education) in Austria at least until 3 March 2023.
This includes Ukrainian citizens and third-country nationals or stateless persons who had a protection status in Ukraine before 24 February. Family members, i.e. spouses, minor children and other close relatives, are also covered by the right of residence.
Ukrainian citizens who had already been in Austria before 24 February and cannot return to Ukraine because of the war also have a right of residence - even if their title has not actually been renewed or their visa has expired.
Therefore, displaced persons from Ukraine must register with the authorities. Registration is carried out by the police at certain specific police stations or the registration centres.
A list of registration centres in Austria can be found here.
In Vienna, there are currently two registration centers:
During registration, the data - including from the passport or other documents - is recorded. Fingerprints are taken from persons over 14 years of age There is a form that must be filled in and handed in at the time of registration.
Documents required for registration (if and to the extent available):
The Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BFA) is responsible for issuing the blue residence card ("blaue Aufenthaltskarte") and has access to the data collected by the police during registration. No further steps are required on the part of the displaced person once the application has been completed, nor is it necessary to contact the BFA.
If important documents (e.g. passport) are missing or no documents are available, the BFA will contact the displaced person subsequently. If someone has no documents, the BFA initiates an investigation procedure before issuing the blue residence card. The BFA contacts the displaced person and invites him/her to an interview so that the missing data can be collected.
As soon as all data has been collected by the authority, the blue residence card is issued by the BFA.
With the blue residence card and the passport, a Ukrainian citizen can, in principle, travel within the Schengen area for 90 days within 180 days without a visa. With the valid blue residence card, he/she may re-enter Austria at any time.
A displaced person from Ukraine has a temporary right of residence in Austria. This right of residence is currently valid until at least 3 March 2023 and will be extended if necessary (according to current law, however, no longer than one year).
There are multiple options for staying longer in Austria, such as applying for a visa or residence / work permit.
For longer stays, the application for a visa D and, in addition, a residence permit (e.g. Red-White-Red Card / EU Blue Card etc.) may be considered. However, the granting of such residence permits is usually linked to numerous requirements such as special qualifications / knowledge, a points system, a binding job offer, a certain level of earnings, etc. Please note that it has not yet been definitively clarified to what extent such visas and residence permits can be applied for after the end of the protection status under the “Vertriebenen-Verordnung”. When the protection status expires, further options must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Further, since Ukrainian people are fleeing from the war, they would in principle also be entitled to apply for international protection (asylum) in Austria. However, due and for the duration of the temporary protection status, it is not necessary to apply for asylum. If a Ukrainian national has already filed an asylum application, it will not be processed for the duration of the temporary protection status. If the Ukrainian citizen has already applied for asylum and would like to obtain a blue residence card, it is best to contact the BFA (https://www.bfa.gv.at/Kontakt/start.aspx).
At the moment, people fleeing from the war in Ukraine are generally allowed to use trains of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) free of charge; proof of citizenship (e.g. passport / Ukrainian ID) may be required. The timetables can be found here.
In Vienna, the use of public transport is free at least until the end of April, if the person can identify him/herself as a Ukrainian citizen (for example with a passport) at a ticket control.
NGOs such as “Volkshilfe” or “Caritas” may also provide support / assistance.
Up to now, a vignette payment has been required when using Austrian motorways. These can be purchased in digital form via an electronic system here or at gas stations along the motorway.
A list of arrival centres in Austria may be found here.
In Vienna, a central arrival centre has been set up in the 2nd district – specifically in the “Sport & Fun Halle Leopoldstadt” (address: Engerthstraße 267/269).
Initial care is provided together with NGOs. At the arrival centre, advice as well as medical and psychosocial care will be offered.
Further, the Federal Agency for Reception and Support Services (BBU) offers care, counselling and support. They have also set up a hotline for Ukrainians, which can be used if assistance is needed and through which accommodation and donations in kind can be arranged.
Temporary housing, food and non-food-items are provided in shelters if Ukrainian citizens do not have the financial means to organize accommodation for themselves.
Hotline: +43 1 2676 870 9460
In addition, a platform for private accommodation has been established where people who want to help, including with the arrangement of accommodation, can register (firstname.lastname@example.org). Distribution will then be coordinated by the federal and state governments.
Homes for Ukraine is an initiative of non-profit organizations that arranges accommodation from private individuals.
People who have fled from Ukraine receive the necessary support within the framework of basic care (“Grundversorgung”) in order to quickly cover the basic financial needs of their daily lives.
The amount of the basic care depends on the particular type of benefit the person is receiving and on the particular federal state (the amount varies between about EUR 5.50 and 6.50 per day). Additionally, if they can provide confirmation from the landlord that they are paying rent, they will also receive a rent subsidy.
The Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) has already implemented that Ukrainian citizen, as long as they do not have an insurance number or e-card replacement certificate, can and must identify themselves as Ukrainian citizens at doctors' offices, hospitals or pharmacies using their passports.
In any case, with the blue residence card, persons who have fled Ukraine have the full right to access the Austrian public health care system.
In the course of the registration as a displaced person, the recorded data will be forwarded to ÖGK via the basic health care system and an insurance number will be assigned automatically and subsequently a registration for health insurance will be carried out. This process is expected to take several weeks.
As soon as the person who has fled Ukraine has received an insurance number, an e-card replacement certificate should be requested from ÖGK.
Ukrainian citizens as well as other third-country nationals usually need an employment permit in addition to their residence title or visa in order to take up employment in Austria. This, in general, also applies if the Ukrainian citizen or other third-country national works remotely from Austria for a Ukrainian company (as Austrian laws applies as soon as work is performed on Austrian territory).
However, due to the “Vertriebenen-Verordnung”, refugees from Ukraine have full access to the Austrian labor market. As soon as the blue card ("Ausweis für Vertriebene") is available, an employment permit can be issued in a (very) simplified procedure. The employer must obtain an "Employment Permit for Displaced Persons" from the AMS. This can be downloaded from the AMS website.
Please note: Third-country nationals who are not covered by the “Vertriebenen-Verordnung” still need a “normal” employment permit (e.g. Red-White-Red Card / EU Blue Card etc.).
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.
Due to the current events, the Viennese digital portal "Trending Topics" has launched its own job platform for people from Ukraine (https://www.jobs.trendingtopics.eu/for-ukrainians)
In addition, after receiving the “blue residence card”, Ukrainians can also register with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS), which will also support them with job placements. They will record data like education, work experience and skills, etc. and try to connect them with a suitable job offer.
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 of about 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 the applicable CBA). Moreover, since almost all CBAs provide for 14 wages per year (special payments for vacation and Christmas remuneration), the minimum wages actually rise to EUR 1,750 gross per month. However, there do still exist sectors in which no CBA is applicable and therefore also no minimum wage is stipulated.
“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 where 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 vocational 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 must be submitted to the Federal Ministry for Digitization and Economic Location.
More information can be found here.
Public schools in Austria generally offer primary and secondary education free of charge. In principle, Ukrainian citizens are entitled to education in Austria.
However, each federal state in Austria has its own regulations in this regard.
For the allocation of a school place, the respective education directorate of the federal state must be contacted. The education directorate also specifies the documents to be submitted for the school children to be enrolled.
You can find the respective education directorate here.
Further links to useful websites
8 April 2022
by Sandra Popp
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