General information on Asylum

General

Granting international protection is an important obligation under international and human rights law. International protection is granted by conferring two categories of status:

  • Refugee status/entitlement to asylum
  • Persons entitled to subsidiary protection

The Austrian asylum system is based on the principle that each case is considered individually. This means that each application for international protection (i.e. an asylum application) is examined on a case-by-case basis to determine whether there are grounds to grant protection from persecution under the Geneva Convention, grounds for subsidiary protection, or grounds to grant leave to remain for humanitarian reasons.

Persons entitled to asylum (recognised refugees)

According to the Geneva Refugee Convention, refugees are persons who are outside their country of origin because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political convictions, and who are unable to claim the protection of their country of origin, or do not wish to do so, because of this fear. If their asylum claims are accepted, people in this situation are considered to be entitled to asylum or, rather, to be recognised refugees.

Since the introduction of the "Asylum for a limited period of time" amendment (which came into force on 1 June 2016), people whose asylum applications are accepted (i.e., who are recognised as being entitled to asylum) have been granted temporary leave to remain in Austria lasting for a period of three years. Once this period expires the right of residence is unlimited by law unless the requirements for starting the process leading to the withdrawal of leave to remain are met.

However, if there is a significant, long-term change in the specific circumstances in an asylum-seeker's country of origin (and particularly if the political situation has changed), or if there is another reason to withdraw their leave to remain (e.g. their having been convicted of a serious crime), proceedings to withdraw their leave to remain must be initiated immediately and their status withdrawn by means of an official decision. 

Persons entitled to asylum are legally recognised as refugees and have full access to the labour market. They are also entitled to apply for a Convention Passport. Foreign nationals are considered to be asylum-seekers during the asylum procedure, which begins from the point at which their application is submitted and lasts until the final decision on their application.

Exclusion from asylum

Certain groups of persons are not eligible for protection, either because they enjoy the protection of another organisation, or because their behaviour poses a threat to the security of Austria, for example as a result of their having committed a serious criminal offence. Anyone who has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or serious non-political crimes is not entitled to international protection under any circumstances.

Withdrawal of asylum

The entitlement to asylum can be withdrawn if the person concerned is not (or no longer) eligible for protection, has acted in such a way as to justify their exclusion (see above), has again subjected themselves to protection in their country of origin, or has moved to another country. If the analysis of the individual's national identification documents shows there has been a substantial, lasting change in the specific conditions upon which their fear of persecution is based (and particularly if the political situation has changed), proceedings to withdraw asylum will be initiated.

Consequences of withdrawal

The withdrawal of international protection usually results in action being taken to terminate the individual's stay in the country (e.g. deportation), unless the individual concerned is entitled to remain in Austria on different legal grounds. Such grounds may include:

Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection

Subsidiary protection is granted to people whose application for asylum has been rejected on the basis that there are insufficient grounds to believe they will be persecuted, but whose life or integrity are nevertheless threatened in their country of origin. People in this situation are not entitled to asylum, but they are granted temporary protection from deportation.

People eligible for subsidiary protection have the right to enter, and to reside in, Austria. In particular, they are allowed to live in Austria, have full access to the labour market, and can apply for a foreign national passport if they cannot obtain a passport from their country of origin.

The period during which someone is entitled to subsidiary protection can be extended if the requirements for this status are still met when the original protection expires. Under certain circumstances, the time limit can be extended multiple times. When first granted, subsidiary protection is granted for one year. If it is subsequently renewed, it is granted for two years from the renewal date. This protection can be withdrawn in some circumstances (e.g. if the individual concerned commits a crime).

It is possible to move from subsidiary protection status to the status of an EU permanent resident if all the relevant conditions are met.

Withdrawal of subsidiary protection

The entitlement to benefit from subsidiary protection can be withdrawn if the person concerned is not (or no longer) eligible for protection, has made themselves ineligible (see above), has acquired the nationality of another state, or has moved to another country.

Applying to extend a residence permit as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection

You can apply to renew a residence permit while your existing permit is still valid. Applicants will continue to enjoy all their rights as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection until a final decision is made on their application.

If the circumstances that led to subsidiary protection being granted in the first place still apply, the residence permit will be extended for two years on the basis of a formal decision.

Documents and form

The application to renew a residence permit can be submitted in person or in writing. There are no special formal requirements. If the application is made in person, applicants must present their current ID card showing they are a beneficiary of subsidiary protection.

Competent authority

All Regional Directorates of the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (→ BFA)German text

Costs and fees

None

Unaccompanied minors

For the purposes of the admission and asylum procedures, unaccompanied minor foreign nationals are defined as third-country nationals or stateless persons under the age of 18 who are not accompanied by a parent or other guardian. Special provisions are in place with regard to these children and adolescents. As they are considered more vulnerable, unaccompanied minors are generally accommodated by the federal government in special accommodation (special reception centres) as part of the registration procedure. Special consideration is given to providing them with the best possible care, taking into account the best interests of the child (increased level of care, providing structure during the day, etc.).

During the admission procedure, unaccompanied minors are represented before the relevant authorities by legal advisers at the reception centres where they first arrive. If their application is admissible, they will be represented by the relevant child and youth welfare service of the province where they are staying. As a rule, unaccompanied minors have a period of four weeks in which to appeal decisions of the BFA.

Further links

Legal basis

Certified Translation
Last update: 25 January 2022

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of the Interior