Have you lived in Europe on an artist visa?
November 2, 2009 12:07 PM   Subscribe

How difficult is it to secure an artist visa to live in an EU country? Does it vary greatly from country to country? It seems like there are an awful lot of American musicians and artists living hassle free in Berlin for instance...

I know there is plenty of visa info out there for Americans wanting to live abroad in Europe, but I have found little in the way of solid, first hand info on this loophole (?) for working as a writer/artist/DJ in Europe. I understand most of the rules in place regarding work visas are there to prevent non-EU citizens from taking work that could go to a European, that's clear enough. But, say I was a writer who received a decent sized advance for a book from a US publisher and wanted to go write it in Paris, is it simply a matter of applying for the mysterious artist visa, proving I have the means to support myself and voila? Are there other issues at play? It also seems that there are loads of North And South American techno producers living in Berlin now, are they all similarly on artist visas? Doesn't the fact that they are playing gigs on a regular basis over there take away work form German DJs? If anyone has first hand experience of working in Europe legally as an artist and could clarify some of the process for me, I would love to hear from you. Thanks!
posted by the foreground to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of US artists in Europe are nominally students at European universities.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2009

And a lot of US artists in Europe are there on a "working holiday" visa
posted by randomstriker at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2009

mm, almost none of the countries in that link offer that type of visa to US citizens.
posted by past at 12:42 PM on November 2, 2009

Call the embassies in question, it's their job to help you and you'll get much more accurate info from them than you will off the internet. If you have the money in the bank to support yourself and are not working (from their point of view), it should be pretty straightforward.
posted by fshgrl at 2:40 PM on November 2, 2009

I can only speak for Germany (Berlin) having lived there last winter. My social circle consisted almost solely of these types. There's three ways that these people are doing it:
1. Have citizenship in an E.U. country due to ancestry.
2. Student of some kind (this includes one guy I knew who had been taking various German language courses part-time and had managed to string along various student resident visas up to 7 years!)
3. Working holiday visas ... which are only a year but give you time to find a loophole to extend it.

Specifically, the bureaucracy in Germany is simultaneously a living nightmare and your best weapon, as any government process seems to involve crisscrossing the city to various offices and 'talking' (for me, shoving piles of paperwork across desks and using charades) to an endless line of disgruntled cubicle and counter people. You almost never get a straight answer and usually if you are persistent enough they seem to let you stay. At least this was the experience for myself and some of my friends over there.

Anecdote - Another guy I was friends with was three months overdue on his tourist visa yet still managed to rent a flat. Later the police picked him up hitchhiking and he somehow managed to avoid deportation. Eventually all he did was go out and sign up for a language course, and also got a friend who owned a recording studio to write a formal letter saying he was hired to record backing music for several upcoming albums, and he was granted some combo of artist/student residential visa, and I think he was even permitted to work up to 20 hrs per week. The point is it worked. I guess for Germany, the key is just to get over there and get your foot in the door. France I can't speak for, but I have heard similar stories from ex-pats in Czech and Greece.
posted by mannequito at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I should add : I'm Canadian but both of the people I cited as examples above are American, and as far as I could tell the procedures are the same for people from Canada/US/Australia/NewZealand
posted by mannequito at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2009

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