Work visas for Austria

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Updated 2023-08-06 12:50

Austria's labor market offers great opportunities, despite some inflation. The economic situation is generally strong, and there is a demand for labor in various sectors. However, applying for a work visa can be a bureaucratic process, so it's essential to research the requirements in advance.

For people from non-Schengen countries, the Red-White-Red Card is the most commonly issued residence permit in Austria. It allows for various types of stays, depending on the individual's qualifications and purpose of visit.

In addition to the Red-White-Red Card, there are other options available, such as the Red-White-Red Plus Card, the EU Blue Card, and extra settlement permits designed for specific groups, including artists. You can find detailed information about these residence permits on the Austrian government's website.

In more complex cases, seeking the assistance of a lawyer might be beneficial to navigate the visa application process.

Whether you already know people in Austria or have done some research on your own, it's essential to be informed about the specific visa requirements that apply to your situation. Understanding the available options will help ensure a smooth and successful application process for your relocation to Austria.

The Red-White-Red Card

To obtain the Red-White-Red Card in Austria, there are certain requirements and considerations depending on the group you belong to. Here are the groups usually eligible for the Red-White-Red Card.

  • Very Highly Qualified Workers and Key Workers: This category is for particularly highly qualified third-country nationals. They can legally enter Austria with a special residence visa, known as the "Jobseeker - Visa," which allows them to stay in Austria for up to six months to seek employment. Afterward, they must apply in person for the Red-White-Red Card as a highly qualified worker.
  • Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations: If you work in occupations that are experiencing shortages in Austria, such as IT engineers, technicians, nurses, and medical professionals, you may be eligible for the Red-White-Red Card. You can check the official skills shortage list to see if your profession belongs to this group.
  • Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
  • Regular Workers in Tourism, Agriculture, and Forestry
  • Self-employed Key Workers and Start-up Founders

It's important to note that before applying for the Red-White-Red Card, you must have health insurance coverage. Understanding which group you belong to and meeting the necessary criteria will facilitate the application process for the Red-White-Red Card and help you obtain legal residence in Austria.

The Red-White-Red Card PLUS

To obtain the Red-White-Red Card PLUS in Austria, there are three possibilities:

  • Renewal of the Red-White-Red Card: If you have already held a Red-White-Red Card for two years and the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) or the responsible entity confirms that you have been employed or have been an entrepreneur for 21 or 24 months during that period, you may be eligible for the Red-White-Red Card PLUS.
  • Renewal of the EU Blue Card: If you currently hold an EU Blue Card (not necessarily the Austrian one) and wish to renew it, you have the option to apply for the Red-White-Red Card PLUS.
  • Family Reunification: If you have legally settled in Austria for two years and fulfill module 1 of the integration agreement, you may be eligible for the Red-White-Red Card PLUS. The integration agreement typically involves German language skills at the B1 level and knowledge of Austrian society, history, and values.

Once approved, the Red-White-Red Card PLUS will be valid for three years, providing you with a longer-term residence permit in Austria.

Now, what does Module 1 entail? To fulfill Module 1, you must pass a language exam and a small test on Austrian society, history, and values. The language exam will be at level A2, which means you need to demonstrate specific language skills. These may include discussing leisure and work experiences in the present and past, making a doctor's appointment over the phone, or planning activities with colleagues.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a residence permit that is valid for 24 months and offers an attractive option for individuals from non-EU countries who have a university degree and find a job in Austria. If you hold a minimum of a Bachelor's degree from a university, college, or similar institution and have received a binding job offer for at least six months in Austria, you can apply for the EU Blue Card.

The EU Blue Card allows you to work as an employee or even be self-employed as long as the job offer matches your university education. To be eligible for the EU Blue Card, you must earn at least the average gross annual income in Austria, which is approximately 46,000 euros per year.

If you decide to change employers while holding the EU Blue Card, you will need to apply for another EU Blue Card with the new employer. Alternatively, after two years of holding the EU Blue Card, you have the option to apply for the Red-White-Red-Plus Card, which is a longer-term residence permit valid for three years.

The EU Blue Card offers an excellent opportunity for qualified individuals from non-EU countries to work and live in Austria, and it provides a pathway to more extended residence in the country through the Red-White-Red-Plus Card after two years.

Internship visas in Austria

The Visa D could be a compelling choice if you are interested in pursuing an internship in Austria. It is available for "third-country nationals," which refers to individuals from countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area. With this visa, you have the freedom to work as an intern anywhere in Austria for a duration ranging from three to six months.

To be eligible for this visa, you should be enrolled in a university degree program in a third country or have completed your university degree within the past two years.

EU (and Switzerland) residents in Austria

EU citizens have the privilege of traveling to Austria without needing a visa and can stay for up to three months. This allows them to explore job and study opportunities in Austria during their stay. As an EU citizen, you do not require a special work permit to be employed in Austria. This applies to nationals of countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

If you plan to extend your stay beyond the initial three months, Austrian law mandates that you obtain a "certificate of registration" within four months from your entry date into Austria. For instance, if you have already been in Austria for three months and you're seeking employment, you'll have one additional month to complete the registration process.

For those intending to reside in Austria for an extended period, after five years of uninterrupted residence, you can apply for a "certificate of permanent residence." Additionally, you can request a photo ID (recognized as an official document in Austria) for EEA citizens.

Registering your address in Austria is obligatory, except for temporary stays in hotels or Airbnbs. This registration can be easily accomplished using the "Meldeschein" form, which also facilitates other bureaucratic processes in Austria. It is crucial to update your registration whenever you change residences, as Austria has stricter regulations regarding home address registration. While carrying a passport is not mandatory at all times, registering your address is essential and can be completed swiftly.

Regarding health insurance, it's advisable to switch to Austrian health insurance when you become employed in Austria, as you will be automatically covered. Before that, you can utilize the EU regulation through the E-CARD. If you work on a part-time, freelance, or project-based basis, you may need to arrange health insurance yourself.

Dependants of EU citizens and Swiss nationals in Austria

If your close relatives, such as spouses or registered partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, or young people under 21 for whom you have custody, do not hold an EU or Swiss citizenship, they can apply for a "residence card" to establish their right of residence in Austria. This application must be submitted within four months of their entry into Austria.

Once approved, the residence card grants them the right to reside in Austria and provides free access to the Austrian labor market. This means they can seek employment or engage in work-related activities without any additional work permits or restrictions.

Permanent residents in Austria

The residence title "Permanent Residence - EU" can be granted to you coming from a non-EU country if you have resided in Austria without interruption for the last five years. In this case, you also have to fulfill Module 2 of the Integration Agreement. Module 2 means: German language skills at B1 level (of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and in-depth teaching of the fundamental values of the legal and social order. There is an official test to pass here. This residence title entitles to an unlimited settlement with unrestricted access to the labor market.

It can be issued to people who hold one of the following residence titles: Red-White-Red Card, Red-White-Red Card plus, Settlement Permit (Artists/Special Cases/Researcher), EU Blue Card, Family member/Dependant.

Furthermore, Module 2 is also necessary for the granting of Austrian citizenship. The other two most important requirements for Austrian citizenship are at least ten years of legal and uninterrupted residence in Austria and no court convictions.

Learning German as requirement in Austria

Knowledge of German is undoubtedly very beneficial, if not essential, both in everyday life and the professional world. Everyone has varying degrees of interest and prior knowledge on this subject, so not all language courses will suit everyone. Therefore, it is important to take your time to find the type of course and lessons that best fit your needs.

Some languages are closely related in various ways; for instance, Dutch or Afrikaans speakers will recognize many similar words. These linguistic connections play a significant role in language learning. A positive trend is that numerous companies have started offering free German courses to their employees during working hours in recent years. However, if this is not an option for you, you may need to attend a private, semi-public, or university-affiliated language school. In cities, there are plenty of choices available.

If you prefer online study, you can explore the possibility of finding a German teacher online. Additionally, for quite some time now, learning some German (Module 1) has become obligatory to obtain certain residence permits, such as the Red-White-Red Card (with a few exceptions), Settlement Permit (for Artists/Special Cases/Researchers), and for family members.

To learn German in Austria, you can consult the ÖIF Consulting Centers in all Austria.

Useful links:

Stay in Austria (Austrian government)

ÖIF (Counselling and language courses/exams)

AMS Österreich (Public Employment Service) 

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