By Max Binder
With an unselbständige Erwerbstätigkeit—the residence permit most USTAs and Fulbrighters have in Austria—the borders of your personal life can be somewhat limited.
Just because we come here from the US doesn’t mean we get diplomatic immunity to labor laws. Our jobs are limited to exactly what we’re hired for—namely working as an English-language teaching assistant—and all other work in the EU is illegal. With a base income of about €1,500 before taxes, this can make it complicated to bring a spouse with you. I should know. I’ve done a lot of digging.
My “household situation” is unusually complicated. My husband is from Guatemala, and we met while both studying in Paris in 2017. We got married in summer 2018 in order to facilitate him moving with me to Vienna, but I would soon discover that the financial specifics of this would become complicated at best, prohibitive at worst.
Austria establishes a minimum net income required to bring a spouse to Austria of about €1,300 per month, an amount a USTA generally doesn’t meet after taxes. This means having sufficient savings to supplement this income and organizing one’s bank documents to prove it. Moreover, since I don’t have access to the job market, my spouse wouldn’t either. Taking into consideration more than €150 in fees, assembling documents, and a several-month-long processing time was enough for us to decide to pursue less complicated means.
These complications were sufficient for us to give up on the visa process, but not to give up entirely. I can happily say I’ve spent about half my time in Austria so far with my spouse living with me. During my first year, he had a visa to look for a job in France and he’d stay with me for the permitted three-month stints before returning to France for a while, finally coming back to Vienna for another legally permitted three-month period after his visa expired.