As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic takes hold, the question that arises is whether it is possible to extend a visa to stay in Austria.
According to the Article 33 of REGULATION (EC) No 810/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 July 2009 on a Community Visa Code, the period of validity and / or the length of stay of a visa issued is to be extended if the competent authority of a Member State establishes that a visa holder has to provide a proof of force majeure or humanitarian reason which prevent him from leaving the territory of the Member State before the expiry of the visa or before the permitted duration of stay expires.
The OGH (Austrian Supreme Court of Justice) defines force majeure as an extraordinary event from the outside, that does not occur regularly or with a certain frequency and is unexpected, which with the utmost reasonable care, can neither be averted nor rendered harmless in regard to its consequences. In the Supreme Court’s decision 4 Ob 103/05, the outbreak of the SARS infectious disease was defined as such a case of force majeure. Therefore, it can be reasoned that the Coronavirus outbreak is, in fact, a case of force majeure.
Currently there are legal and factual reasons - caused by "force majeure" - that prevent visa holders from leaving the territory before their visa expires or before their permissible duration of stay expires.
Anyhow, the application to obtain an extension of the visa must be submitted in a timely manner, before the expiry date and there are various supporting documents required by the authorities. Presently the Austrian Foreign Ministry has published the following foregoing as regards NON EU member state nationals.
„Third country nationals who are not subject to visa requirements for a stay of up to 90 days as well as those who require a visa and were in possession of a valid visa at the beginning of the crisis, still residing in Austria, should either leave Austria in time or regulate their stay at the competent Austrian authority.
However, if neither the departure from Austrian territory nor the regulation of the legal status is possible due to the temporary closure of the respective competent Austrian authorities to the public, no penalties will be enforced. The delayed departure will have no negative implication on future visa applications. As soon as the situation permits, those who are obliged to leave Austria must do so as soon as possible. “