The Integration agreement of 2017

General information

The Integration Agreement (known in German as the Integrationsvereinbarung, or IV) is designed to encourage the integration of third-country nationals (people who do not hold EU,EEA/or-Swiss citizenship) into Austrian society (it does not apply to asylum-seekers or individuals entitled to subsidiary protection). It is intended to encourage immigrants to acquire a sound knowledge of the German language and of Austria's democratic institutions, along with the principles on which they are founded. A basic command of German that allows applicants to use the language for basic interactions is required before certain types of residence permits will be issued, but this requirement does not form part of the Agreement (for more details, see the information on "Proof of knowledge of German (‘German before immigration’).

The Agreement is composed of two complementary modules. Fulfilling the requirements set out in Module 1 within two years is a condition of issue for certain types of residence permits. The requirements set out in Module 2  must be met in order to apply for a long-term-EU residence permit, and also serves as proof of a sufficient command of German for the purposes of obtaining Austrian citizenship.

Module 1

Module 1 is designed to encourage immigrants to acquire a command of German that allows them to communicate for basic everyday purposes, a level equivalent to level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages, as well as to teach immigrants about the fundamental values underpinning Austrian law and society.

Third-country nationals must fulfil the requirements of Module 1 upon being issued one of the following types of residence permit for the first time:

The duty to fulfil the relevant requirements begins when the residence permit is first issued. The requirements of Module 1 must be fulfilled within two years from this date.

The following categories of people are exempted from the requirements of Module 1 of the Integration Agreement:

  • Minors (under the age of 14) who will still be minors when the deadline to fulfil the requirements would ordinarily expire.
  • Individuals who cannot reasonably be expected to fulfil the requirements for reasons of their physical or mental health. The third-country national concerned must provide evidence of their entitlement to this exemption in the form of medical certificate issued by an officially accredited physician.
  • Individuals who provide a written declaration that they will not remain in Austria for longer than 24 months. Submitting this declaration will be treated as an irrevocable waiver of their right to extend their residence permit after the first application for an extension.

Individuals can apply to postpone the deadline for meeting the requirements of the Integration Agreement for up to 12 months on the basis of their personal circumstances.

Caution

Changes to deadlines due to Covid-19: If the deadline by which applicants are expected to fulfil the requirements of Module 1 falls between 22 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, the deadline will automatically be extended to 31 October 2020. If applicants are in receipt of vouchers for the Federal Government contribution to the costs of integration courses for certain family members, and if the vouchers expire before this extended deadline, applicants should contact the Austrian Integration Fund Österreichischer Integrationsfonds (ÖIF).

The requirements of Module 1 can be fulfilled in the following ways:

  • By providing proof from the Österreichische Integrationsfonds (ÖIF) that you have passed the Integration Examination (in the form of the document known as the Zeugnis zur Integrationsprüfung) and have a level of German of at least A2),
  • By providing proof that you have passed the Integration Examination (in the form of your "Zeugnis zur Integrationsprüfung" with a level of German of at least A2) from the Verein Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD), which is authorised to conduct the A2 Integration Examination), provided the examination was sat by 30 May 2021.
  • A school leaving certificate that would entitle the holder to enter a university, as defined under Section 64 para. 1 of the Universitätsgesetz 2002 (Universities Act 2002), or that is equivalent to a leaving certificate from a vocational middle school (berufsbildende mittlere Schule).
  • By proving you hold a Red, White and Red ("Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte") residence permit pursuant to Section 41 para. 1 or para. 2 of the Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz (Residence and Leave to Remain Act) (holders of a Red, White and Red residence permit are considered to have legally fulfilled the requirements of Module 1 of the Integration Agreement by definition).
  • By engaging in artistic activities in one of the branches of the arts named in Section 2 para. 1 (1) to (3) of the Kunstförderungsgesetz (Arts Promotion Act) while holding an artist's/performer's residence permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung – Künstler) pursuant to Section 43a NAG
  • By fulfilling the requirements of Module 2.

Certified providers provide various integration courses in preparation for the Module 1 Integration Examination. For some family members, the Austrian Federal Government will pay 50 per cent of the costs of an integration course, up to a maximum of 750 Euro, provided that the family member concerned

  • takes part in at least 75 per cent of the course and
  • passes the Integration Examination within 18 months from the beginning of the period in which they are required to pass Module 1, as evidenced by the ÖIF's "Zeugnis zur Integrationsprüfung".

Eligible individuals can obtain the required voucher from the relevant Residence and Leave to Remain Authority (Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsbehörde) responsible for issuing their residence permit.

Module 2

Module 2 is designed to encourage immigrants to acquire a command of German that allows them to use the language independently, a level equivalent to level B1  of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages, as well as to teach immigrants more about the fundamental values underpinning Austrian law and society.

There is no general requirement for holders of residence permits to fulfil the requirement for Module 2. However, you can only apply for a long-term-EU residence permit if you have fulfilled the requirements for Module 2. Module 2 is also required before you can apply for Austrian citizenship. Third-country nationals looking to obtain a long-term EU residence permit must have fulfilled the requirements of Module 2 of the Integration Agreement before submitting their application

The following categories of people are exempted from the requirements of Module 2 of the Integration Agreement:

  • Third-country nationals who are minors at the time of their application and are not yet subject to the requirement for compulsory schooling, which applies from the 1 September after a child's sixth birthday.
  • Individuals who cannot reasonably be expected to fulfil the requirements for reasons of their physical or mental health. The third-country national concerned must provide evidence of their entitlement to this exemption in the form of a medical certificate issued by an officially accredited physician.

The requirements of Module 2 can be fulfilled in the following ways:

  • By providing proof from the Österreichischer Integrationsfonds (ÖIF) that you have passed the integration examination (in the form of the document known as the "Zeugnis zur Integrationsprüfung" at a level of German of at least B1).
  • By providing proof that you have passed the B1 Integration Examination of the Verein Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD), provided the examination was sat by 30 May 2021.
  • For minors, by providing proof that they are attending a primary school as part of the requirement for compulsory schooling.
  • For minors, by providing proof that they are attending a secondary school (e.g. Hauptschule or AHS) as part of the requirement for compulsory schooling, provided they were awarded a positive grade in German [language] in their latest end-of-year report or report card.
  • By providing evidence that the individual concerned has attended compulsory schooling in Austria for at least five years, with a positive grade in German [language] or a positive grade in German [language] in school year 9, or a positive grade in "Deutsch – Kommunikation und Gesellschaft" as part of the compulsory school-leaving examination.
  • By providing proof of a positive grade in German [language] following at least four years of instruction in German at a school outside Austria.
  • By providing proof of having completed a  final vocational examination (Lehrabschlussprüfung) in accordance with the Berufsausbildungsgesetz (Vocational Training Act) or the Skilled Worker Examination (Facharbeiterprüfung) in accordance with the relevant provincial law governing agricultural and forestry qualifications.
  • By providing proof of enrolment for two years at a higher education institution (e.g. a university) for a course taught in German and worth at least 32 ECTS credits and/or 16 semester hours (Semesterstunden), or by providing a suitable certificate from a higher-education institution.

Further information

Anyone who has fulfilled the requirement for Module 2 is automatically considered to have fulfilled the requirements for Module 1.

Any Zeugnis zur Integrationsprüfung submitted for the purposes of proving compliance with Module 1 as part of an application to extend a residence permit must have been issued within two years from the date of the application.

With regard to both modules, the relevant authority has the power to rule that an individual does not possess the level of skills required, even if they can provide the requested evidence.

Transitional arrangements

The Integration Agreement (Integrationsvereinbarung) 2017 applies to all individuals issued with a residence permit from 1 October 2017 onwards if their residence permit commits them to fulfilling the requirements of Module 1

Individuals who hold a residence permit that commits them to fulfilling the requirements of Module 1 and was issued up to and including 1 October 2017 can fulfil their obligations under the Integration Agreement in accordance with the rules applicable up to and including 1 October 2020, as well as under the rules that applied before 1 October 2017. If your residence permit was issued after 1 October 2017, you must meet the requirements for Module 1 of the Integration Agreement exclusively according to the terms of the Integration Agreement 2017.

The requirements for Module 2 of the Integration Agreement 2017 must be fulfilled by all applicants for long-term EU residence permits who submit their applications from 1 October 2017 onwards.

If you applied for a long-term EU residence permit or Austrian citizenship before 1 October 2017, the procedure will be concluded according to the provisions of the law that was in force prior to this date.

Further links

Legal basis

Certified Translation
Last update: 27 May 2020

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs