Austria has clarified and relaxed its entry criteria for Ukrainian citizens.
Due to the current conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the Austrian Ministries for Internal Affairs and for European and International Affairs have published and clarified the legal framework that applies for Ukrainian citizens who wish to enter Austria.
Ukrainian citizens with a biometric passport can still enter and stay in Austria for a short period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.
For Ukrainian citizens without a biometric passport, however, there are currently, it appears, no general exceptions. That means they would basically have to apply for a visa before entering Austria. Since making a visa application in Kiev is not currently possible, an application can be made in the Schengen countries next to Austria, for example, the Austrian Embassy in Bratislava, Ljubljana or Munich.
However, even if Ukrainian citizens enter or stay in Austria without a biometric passport or valid visa and are therefore basically in the country ‘illegally', given the nationwide state of war in Ukraine they should be allowed to apply for a visa based on ‘exceptional circumstances' at the appropriate provincial police directorate. Based on our understanding they will not face any sanctions in this scenario, as it is impossible for them to leave for Ukraine.
In addition, Ukrainian citizens entering Austria or transiting through Austria to reach a contact person (such as a family member or friend) in Austria or in another country may (and in the current scenario most probably will) be granted entry to or transit through Austria on humanitarian grounds based on an individual case-by-case examination. This will be conditional upon proving their Ukrainian citizenship and identity, that they are not subject to an entry or a residence ban, and there being no indication that the individual poses a threat to public order or internal security.
An entry permit for a Schengen country bordering Ukraine extends to the entire Schengen area. This means that a stay for the purpose of transit and immediate subsequent departure to the destination country would be considered ‘legal' as long as it is necessary for the purpose of the transit or journey to the destination country as soon as possible.
The Austrian Federal Agency for Reception and Support Services has published information here (in Ukrainian as well as in English) including a hotline, the provision of shelter and food as well as information on free railway travel for Ukrainian citizens. Several other public and private organisations in Austria will also assist and provide shelter and other services.
More information on this (and also on possible seasonal work for Ukrainian citizens, etc.) can be found under the links below also including FAQs in English.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.