Located in Central Europe and bordered by several countries that include Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, the federal republic of Austria is a parliamentary, semi-presidential representative democracy consisting of nine federal states. Currently one of the richest countries in Europe and the world, Austria has an excellent standard of living rating on the Human Development Index.
The Bundespräsident (Federal President) is the "head of state" and elected according to the results of a popular vote. The Federal Chancellor (chairman of the Federal Government) is appointed by the Bundespräsident and holds power similar to a Vice President.
Austria's Legal System
Private and criminal law are primarily practiced by lawyers employed individually or with a firm in Austria. Private law concerns civil, commercial and employment legal matters and is regulated by the Allgemeine Buergerliche Gesetzbuch, a comprehensive law code that, although decisive, is not always legally binding in certain litigations.
Many of Austria's private law principles come from Roman Law, such as the principle of individual freedom, or Privatautonomie and Konsensprinzip, the principal of consensus. Other facets of Austrian private law include legal capacity, contracts, torts and business partnerships.
Criminal lawyers in Austria must work under certain fundamental principles that guide cases led by state prosecutors and involve juries, judges and magistrates. This includes the "Fair Trial" tenet which promotes the acquittal of anyone accused of a crime if doubts about the accused's guilt exists at the end of a trial.
Findings and verdicts are always proclaimed in the name of the Austrian Republic, with distinctions made between courts of ordinary jurisdictions and courts/tribunals dealing with legal matters concerning public law.
Verfassungsgerichtshof (Austria's Constitutional Court) protects the civil rights of Austrian citizens and guarantees that trials and rulings conform to the guidelines set by the Austrian Constitution. However, the Oberster Gerichtshof (Supreme Court) is the most powerful Austrian court that hears criminal and civil cases which have exhausted all other routes.
Study Law in Austria
Earning a Law Degree in Austria
Austrian universities and law schools offer a comprehensive range of Bachelor of Law (LLB) and Masters of Law (LLM) programs that facilitate specializing in a certain area of law. Entrance into an LLM program requires students first obtain an undergraduate degree in law (LLB) and achieve high grades while earning that degree.
All practicing lawyers in Austria must be members of the ABA (Austrian Bar Association), an organization that oversees any disciplinary matters concerning civil or criminal lawyers. Students will need to graduate from a recognized Austrian law school and fulfill an internship or clerkship training program consisting of at least five years of legal work before they can take the bar exam and gain membership to the ABA.
How much does it cost to study law in Austria?
Austria's public universities charge a per-semester tuition fee. The amount of that fee depends on whether the student is Austrian or from another European Union country. For example, EU students are considered exchange students (ordentliche studierendes) who are often exempt from paying semester fees but are required to pay around 20 euros to the university's student union. Non-EU students are charged more per semester. Additionally, Austria also provides scholarship opportunities for students from less developed countries that include most African countries, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Once again, the fees vary from one university to the other. Read more about Universities in Austria here and contact the law schools directly on Lawstudies.
Nationals of EU and EEA member countries, as well as Swiss nationals, do not need study visas for Austria. However, when staying in Austria for longer than 3 months, they have to apply for a confirmation of registration at the immigration office.
Other foreign students have to apply for a residence permit for study at the Austrian representative authority before entry to Austria, after they have received the notification of admission. You have to apply for a student visa in person at the Austrian embassy or consulate before traveling to Austria.
There are three types of visas available for foreign students:
1) Travel visa C ("Schengenvisa"): entitles you to stay in Austria and in all other Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days.
2) Visa D (Austrian National visa, Aufenthaltsvisum D) - for stays of at least 91 days up to a maximum of 6 months. Visa applications should ideally be submitted at least 3-4 weeks but no more than 3 months prior to departure. This visa is not necessary if you are a Japanese national.
3) Temporary residence permit for students (Aufenthaltsbewilligung Studierende) - for stays longer than 6 months. Your visa application should be submitted at least 3 months before the intended arrival in Austria.
For more information about studying in Austria and Austrian student visas, visit https://studyinaustria.at/en/useful-tips/questions-and-answers/visa/