The freedom of art is constitutionally protected in Austria and also applies to the work of artists who are third-country nationals. In order to make it possible for third-country nationals to reside and work in Austria, a separate residence title “Settlement Permit Artist” was created. The following example shows how and under which conditions such a residence title can be granted.
Natalia is a painter and graduate of the prestigious National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv, Ukraine. Natalia has developed a special style of art. She uses old portraits or photographs as models for her paintings and reinterprets them by using intense colours and softening the facial shapes. However, the people depicted in the portraits or photos always remain recognisable.
Natalia’s works are regularly shown in galleries and at exhibitions all over Ukraine and she is already able to make a good living from the proceeds of the sales of her paintings.
One day Natalia is contacted by a bank manager from Vienna who tells her that he has seen one of her paintings while visiting an exhibition in Kyiv, that he is enthusiastic about her style and that he may have a major order for her in Vienna. Interested and excited, Natalia then travels to Vienna where she is introduced to the new project.
A private bank located in the centre of Vienna has portraits of all the bank directors since 1832 hanging in its meeting rooms. There are 33 portraits in all. The bank manager explains to Natalia that the meeting rooms will be completely renovated in the next few years and all the portraits of the bank directors will also be displayed in the new meeting rooms in a contemporary style. He asks Natalia if she would be willing to take on the job of making the new portraits. At the same time, he informs her that the existing portraits have to remain in place in Vienna until the new premises are completed and that Natalia therefore cannot take them with her to Kyiv.
Natalia knows from experience that she can do about one portrait a week. This new commission would therefore keep her busy for at least a year, but probably longer. In addition, the fee she is offered is extremely generous and the bank is also prepared to cover the costs of renting a flat and a studio for Natalia in Vienna. Natalia does not think twice and agrees to start work as soon as possible.
As with all other residence titles, artists must fulfil the general requirements for the granting of residence titles. These include a sufficiently secure livelihood, accommodation that is customary in the locality, health insurance that covers all risks and public order and security must not be endangered by the stay.
In addition, an artistic activity must be pursued, whereby a distinction is made as to whether this activity is dependent or self-employed.
For a dependent artistic activity, on the one hand, a declaration must be submitted by the employer before the settlement permit is issued and a notification must be obtained from the Labour Market Service (AMS) confirming that the requirements for a corresponding artistic activity are actually met.
In the case of self-employed artists, on the other hand, it is only necessary to prove to the immigration authorities that the planned activity consists predominantly of artistic creation and that the artist can earn his or her living from the artistic activity, whereby this must be substantiated by proof of corresponding certificates or contracts. The Labour Market Service is not involved in this process.
Although Natalia will do her work in Vienna independently, she will receive a written contract from the bank she is to work for, in which all the details of the project, which will in any case take more than six months, are precisely regulated and which she can present to the authorities. This will enable her to fulfil all the requirements for the issuance of a settlement permit-artist, which will also be issued to her by the immigration authorities without any problems. This settlement permit is initially valid for one year, but can be renewed thereafter, provided that the necessary legal requirements are still met.