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5 Aug, 2022

What does “German before immigration” mean?

Tafel mit Schrift

For most residence titles, proof of basic knowledge of the German language is a prerequisite for being granted a residence title. This article is about how to prove this basic knowledge and what exceptions there are.

Maria and Tony have been a couple for some time. Both are Canadian citizens. Tony is an engineer and a very successful manager in the metalworking industry. When one day he is offered a managerial position in a large Austrian industrial company, he does not hesitate for long and moves to Austria. Maria is not thrilled about this because she has only recently taken up a job as a Spanish teacher in Canada and she is not yet sure about following Tony to Europe. She, therefore, decides to stay in Canada for the time being.

Tony receives a “Red-White-Red Card” as a particularly highly qualified worker without any problems.

Although neither of them expected it, the relationship between Tony and Maria lasts and after a year they both decide to marry and Maria is now moving to Austria as well.

As a wife, Maria is Tony’s family member and thus entitled to receive a Red-White-Red Card plus. When checking the application requirements, Maria finds out that she has, among other things, to prove basic knowledge of the German language. How is this possible for Maria?

Proof of basic German language skills

Basic knowledge of the German language must already be proven when submitting an initial application by means of a language certificate at A1 level of the European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is the first basic level of language skills, where you can understand and use everyday expressions and very simple sentences.

These language skills can be proven by various language certificates, which can be taken either with providers in Austria or all over the world. Language certificates from the following institutions are officially recognised:

Exceptions to the proof of basic German language skills

Sufficient proof of German language proficiency is of course also provided if higher language levels at A2 or B1 level can be proven. However, there are also exceptions for a number of groups of persons where no knowledge of German is required. For example, children under 14 years of age or persons who cannot reasonably be expected to acquire a language certificate due to their mental and physical condition do not have to provide proof of language proficiency.

In addition, certain family members (spouses or minor children) of holders of certain residence titles are also exempt from this regulation. Thus, family members of holders of a Red-White-Red Card as a particularly highly qualified worker or a Blue Card EU do not have to provide proof of foreign language proficiency.


This means that Maria, as the wife of a holder of a Red-White-Red Card for particularly highly qualified workers, does not have to prove her knowledge of German when applying for her Red-White-Red Card plus. Nevertheless, as a foreign language teacher, Maria is aware of the importance of learning the language spoken in a country, which is why she nevertheless enrolls in a German course and intends to take the language exams as soon as her knowledge allows her to do so.

Dr. Alexander Raidl, BA

Pramergasse 21, 1090 Wien

Pramergasse 21
1090 Wien

© Dr. Alexander Raidl. All rights reserved.
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