Expat Emergencies

There’s help for expats in trouble; you won’t be left out in the rain

There’s help for expats in trouble; you won’t be left out in the rain | Photo: Emmanuel Dyan

More than half a million foreigners live in Vienna. But in moments of crisis, in an unfamiliar legal system and lacking a firm social network, things can be difficult, and at times even dangerous. From free legal advice to support groups for bi-national couples, here are suggestions on where to get started if problems occur.


Expat Center

Before you arrive or when you’re settling in, the Expat Center offers information on public authorities and everyday life in Vienna. The Center, conveniently located behind Parliament in the 1st District, also hosts regular events that give expats and internationally oriented Austrians the opportunity to network, for example at the monthly Vienna Review Salon, where this newspaper’s journalists talk about selected articles in a relaxed atmosphere. Register for the next Salon on 12 Sept. at editor@viennareview.net.




Legal help

Despite increasing standardisation within the EU, national laws and systems can still differ widely, putting foreigners at a disadvantage. Free legal advice in English is available at the Rechtsanwaltskammer or for questions related to your rights of residence, at the initiative Helping Hands. Embassies also have lists of attorneys who speak your language.

www.rakwien.at, www.helpinghands.at


Psychological support

Moving to a foreign country is often stressful and confusing. Some facilities specialise in adapting to a new culture and offer mediation, supervision and coaching, such as the English-speaking Consultation House. Embassies can also provide a list of English-speaking counsellors and psychologists.




Bi-national advice

One of the most common problems for expats is obtaining a visa. Problems can be especially daunting for bi-national couples. The initiative Ehe ohne Grenzen (Marriage without Borders) fights for the legal equality of bi-national couples and offers advice and the opportunity to meet people who are dealing with similar situations. Another initiative by and for women affected by Austrian immigration policy is Verein Fibel (Fraueninitiative bikulturelle Ehe- und Lebensgemeinschaften), which offers intercultural mediation, advice and information.





Web support

A firm support network is key, and one of the easiest places to look is the internet. A good starting point is www.vienna-expats.net and its Facebook page, where you can skim through forum discussions on where to live, study German or – crucially! – where to play pool in Vienna. The web is a great resource to meet fellow expats and pursue language proficiency: The Wiener Deutsch-Stammtisch (Vienna German conversation group) meets every Tuesday night. But be warned: It’s a German-language only event!






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