Proof of knowledge of German (‘German before immigration’)  

Third-country nationals (persons who are not EU citizens, other EEA citizens or Swiss nationals) must prove knowledge of German when applying for a residence permit for the first time if it is one of the following:

Since first applications for residence permits must normally be submitted abroad before entering Austria, knowledge of German must in principle also be proven before immigration. You must have reached the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The knowledge required is foundational knowledge of German at the most basic level.

Proof of knowledge of German may be provided in the following ways:

  • By means of a generally recognised language diploma or certificate from the following institutions:  
  • By means of a generally recognised language diploma from an institution designated by order of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs for the region covered by an Austrian professional representation authority abroad (→ BMEIA) and published on the official bulletin board of the relevant professional representation authority.
  • By meeting the requirements for Module 1 or Module 2 of the Integration Agreement (i.e. knowledge of German at the A2 or B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
  • In the case of third-country nationals who wish to obtain ‘Indefinite leave to remain – Artists’ for the pursuit of artistic activity in one of the arts sectors referred to in Section 2 pragraph 1 items 1 to 3 of the Kunstförderungsgesetz (Law on the promotion of art), BGBl. I No 146/1988; in the event of doubt as to the existence of such an activity, an opinion on this matter must be obtained from the competent Federal Minister.

The language diploma or certificate must not be more than one year old at the time of submission.

Proof of knowledge of German does not need to be provided by:

  • Persons who are minors at the time of the application (up to 14 years old)
  • Persons who cannot be expected to provide proof owing to their physical or mental health; the third-country national must prove this by means of an official medical report or an opinion from a medical officer of an Austrian professional representative authority; if no appropriate medical officer is available, the third-country national must provide such proof by means of an opinion issued by another doctor designated by the Austrian professional representative authority or by a medical institution designated by that authority.
  • Family members of holders of a ‘Red-White-Red Card’ for ‘highly qualified individuals’, an ‘EU Blue Card’, ‘Indefinite leave to remain – Researcher’ or a ‘Long-term resident – EU’ residence permit; in the latter case, provided that the third-country national reuniting the family initially held a ‘Red-White-Red Card’ for ‘highly qualified individuals’, a ‘EU Blue Card’ or ‘Indefinite leave to remain – Researcher’.
  • Family members of persons entitled to asylum applying for a ‘Red-White-Red Card plus’
  • Persons who, in accordance with the Integrationsgesetz (Law on integration), irrevocably waive their right to submit a further application for renewal after the first renewal application

The authority may, on submission of a reasoned request by a third-country national, dispense with the requirement of proof of German knowledge in the following cases:

  • In the case of an unaccompanied minor, in order to safeguard the best interests of the child
  • For the purpose of preserving private and family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the ECHR (Section 11 pragraph 3 of the NAG)

Such a request is admissible only during the period before a decision is given.

Persons whose residence permit procedures were already pending on 30 June 2011 do not need to prove knowledge of German before immigration. In this context, procedures involving the submission of an application to the Austrian professional representation authority abroad are deemed to be pending. If the application may be submitted in Austria, residence permit procedures are pending before the competent authority in Austria from the moment the application is submitted.

Further links

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – Self-assessment grids (→ Europass)

Legal basis

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 February 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of the Interior