Studying (and Working) in Austria
In Europe and around the world, Austria is known as a renowned university location. There are more than 70 higher education institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences, etc.) and more than 2,000 courses of study. It is not only the quality of teaching and scholarship which is interesting to international students, but also Austria as a location in itself. The country is, among many other reasons, convincing due to its high quality of life and social security. As a result, it attracts a large number of students each year from all over the world.
In terms of studying, Austria offers a broad range of advantages
- There is no “numerus clausus” system (usually used to restrict the number of students) which allows or denies students access to higher education only on the basis of the final grades achieved in school. Instead, there are admission tests for many fields of study.
- As an EU member state, Austria is embedded in the European and international university landscape. For this reason, most university degrees follow the Bachelor - Master - PhD degree structure.
- Most universities have numerous partner universities abroad in both Europe and globally. A semester abroad is perfectly normal for many students in Austria.
- Studying in Austria is generally free of charge with the exception of the “ÖH Beitrag”, i.e., the mandatory fee paid to the Austrian Student Union (“Österreichische Hochschülerschaft - ÖH”), amounting to about € 30 per semester. Tuition fees for Austrian and European students (EU/EEA and Swiss nationals) are only charged for universities of applied sciences, private universities and if the stipulated duration of the studies is not met.
- There are many support and funding possibilities (scholarships, etc.).
- The Austrian Exchange Service (“Österreichische Austauschdienst - OEAD") is a public institution which provides information to international students at no charge on issues such as insurance, housing, mobility, research, scholarships, recognitions, etc..
Would you like to study in Austria? Your nationality and the country from which you received your school leaving certificate / secondary or high school diploma are the decisive factors for all further steps.
In principle, secondary school diplomas from the EU, Switzerland and the European Economic Area are considered to have the same value as an Austrian secondary school diploma (“Matura”). However, if you graduated from a secondary school in another country, you may have to present additional documents in order to be permitted to study in Austria. Please clarify these prerequisites directly with the Austrian university where you intend to study.
Have you decided to study in Austria and now want to move here? Please consider the following points if you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national:
- You are required to register in the municipality you move to within the first three days of your stay in Austria. You are subsequently given a residence registration (“Meldezettel”) which you frequently need in Austria. For example, you need this residence registration at many universities when enrolling there.
- You have to register as an EU/EEA/Swiss national in the first four months after arriving in Austria. The certificate you apply for is called the Registration Certificate (“Anmeldebescheinigung“).
You have to personally apply for the registration certificate at the Immigration and Residence Authority (“Aufenthaltsbehörde”). The location of this government office depends on where your place of residence in Austria is.
The following documents must be taken to the competent Immigration and Residence Authority when applying for the registration certificate:
- Application form
- Valid passport or identity card
- Residence registration (“Meldezettel”) as proof of the place of residence in Austria
- Proof that you are studying in Austria (enrolment certificate – “Immatrikulationsbescheinigung”, up-to-date student record sheet – “Studienblatt”, etc.)
- Proof of sufficient means of subsistence (salary slips, bank account statements, etc.)
- Proof of health insurance coverage (Austrian e-card, European Health Insurance Card, etc.)
- Relevant documents on your family status (marriage certificate, partnership document, etc.)
- Costs: fee of € 15
You may be subject to a fine if you fail to apply for the Registration Certificate or submit your application too late.
After residing in Austria for five years, you have the right to permanent residence (“Daueraufenthalt”). You can submit an application to the Immigration and Residence Authority for a document certifying permanent residence (“Bescheinigung des Daueraufenthalts”). For this purpose, you will have to be prove that you actually lived in Austria for at least five years and had health insurance coverage during this time.
The Registration Certificate does not have an expiration date. You are not required to extend the certificate as long as you continue to fulfil the requirements.
If you have the Registration Certificate or the document certifying permanent residence, you can also apply for the photo ID for EEA nationals (“Lichtbildausweis für EWR-Bürger”) at any time. This comes in a credit card format and can be used as an identity card. However, you are not required to apply for this type of identification. This identification is valid for five years.
Are you coming to Austria with your family? Please inform yourself on our website about the necessary steps and documents.
- Do you live in Austria, have a certain valid residence permit, for example a Red-White-Red – Card Plus, a Settlement Permit (“Niederlassungsbewilligung”) or a Long-Term Resident EU permit (“Daueraufenthalt EU”)? If you continue to fulfil the prerequisites for these residence permits, you are allowed to continue living, working and studying in Austria.
- Are you moving to your wife, husband, or civil partner in Austria or with this person to Austria? Is this person an EU/EEA or Swiss national? If this is the case, you can apply for a Residence Card (“Aufenthaltskarte”). This permit allows you to live, work and study in Austria.
- Are you moving to your life partner (“Lebenspartnerin/Lebenspartner” (unmarried) in Austria or with this person to Austria? Is this person an EU/EEA or Swiss national? If this is the case, you can apply for a Settlement Permit (“Niederlassungsbewilligung”). This enables you to live, work on a self-employed basis and study in Austria.
- Are you moving to your wife, husband or civil partner in Austria or with this person to Austria? Is this person an Austrian citizen? In this case, you can apply for the Residence Permit – Family Member (“Aufenthaltstitel Familienangehöriger”). In turn, this will allow you to live, work and study in Austria.
- Are you moving to your wife, husband or civil partner in Austria or with this person to Austria? Does this person have a Red-White-Red – Card (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte”), a Blue Card (“Blaue Karte”) or a Settlement Permit – Researcher (“Niederlassungsbewilligung Forscher”)? Or does this person have a Red-White-Red – Card Plus (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte Plus”) or a Long-Term Resident EU permit and previously had a Red-White-Red – Card, a Blue Card or a Settlement Permit – Researcher? In all these cases, you are eligible to apply for a Red-White-Red – Card Plus. This permit entitles you to live, work and study in Austria.
- Do you have a valid residence permit for students in another EU member state (except for Denmark and Ireland) and are taking part in a mobility programme (for example ERASMUS) in Austria? If you have sufficient insurance and a confirmation of your participation in the mobility programme, you are allowed to stay and study in Austria for up to 360 days.
Do you not fall under any of these special categories? If this is the case, you can apply for a Residence Permit – Student (“Aufenthaltsbewilligung Student”). The Website of Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalisation (OEAD) contains all the information you need about where you should apply for this residence permit, which documents you need, which prerequisites you must fulfil, what rules apply to your family and much more.
- You work independently on a self-employed basis with a contract for work and labour (“Werkvertrag”). You do not need a special permit for this. However, it is important that this contract is actually a real contract for work and labour. Otherwise, you might face penalties.
- You work an employee with a company in Austria with a work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”). In both cases, it is important that you continue to prove your success in your studies. Otherwise, you may encounter problems in the extension of your Student Residence Permit.
The work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”) is a confirmation that your employer has to apply for. You yourself are not allowed to apply for a work permit. You are first allowed to begin work when your employer has received this confirmation from the Austrian Public Employment Service (“Arbeitsmarktservice” - AMS).
- If you would like to work up to 20 hours per week with a work permit, AMS only checks if you have a valid Student Residence Permit, and if they have received all the required documents from your employer. You also require a work permit even if you are only engaged in marginal employment (“geringfügig”).
- If you would like to work more than 20 hours per week with a work permit, AMS may carry out a special procedure called labour market test (“Ersatzkraftverfahren”) to help determine if there are other equally qualified individuals on the Austrian labour market who are looking for jobs and who could potentially get your position. In this case, it may take longer until you receive your work permit.
The Student Residence Permit is your residence permit. The work permit is only a confirmation that you are allowed to work in Austria. This means that you cannot get a work permit if you do not possess a valid residence permit. The purpose of our stay in Austria is first and foremost your studies. For this reason, your success in pursuing your studies is the most important factor for the Immigration and Residence Authority.
Are you studying at a public Austrian university or university of applied sciences, and plan to complete an internship (“Praktikum”) in your holidays in order to complement your university studies? Is this internship either compulsory or classified as an elective subject (“freies Wahlfach”) or is credited to your studies in some other way? In this case, your employer has to apply on your behalf to the AMS for a confirmation of your vocational internship (“Bestätigung für Berufspraktikanten”) at least three weeks before your internship is scheduled to begin. You do not need a work permit. However, it is important that the university or university of applied sciences confirms that the internship will be credited to your studies and that the internship is in fact related to your studies.
As a first step, you can extend your Student Residence Permit for one year after concluding your studies. During this year you can search for a job in Austria. During this time, you are also allowed to continue working (independently) with a contract for work and labour (“Werkvertrag”) or with a work permit (as a salaried employee).
This Student Residence Permit is not the same as a Job Seeker Visa (“Jobsuche-Visum”). The Job Seeker Visa targets third-country nationals who are very highly qualified. The prerequisites for your extended Student Residence Permit are much more attractive because you already live in Austria.
If you receive a job offer within a period of ca. twelve months after concluding your studies in Austria, you or your employer can apply for a Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für StudienabsolventInnen”). This Red-White-Red – Card is the basis for your permanent and long-term stay in Austria. This particular Red-White-Red – Card is the most attractive option of all the six Red-White-Red – Cards, because as a graduate of an Austrian university, you have an Austrian education and thus make a particularly good fit to companies in Austria. Your family can also live with you in Austria and apply for the so-called Red-White-Red – Card Plus. Here you can find out everything about the Red-White-Red – Card Plus (link).
You have to fulfil the following prerequisites in order to receive this Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates of Austrian Universities.
- You successfully completed university studies in Austria in the ca. twelve-month period before submitting the application. Only diplomas from state-owned universities or universities of applied sciences or from accredited private universities or universities of applied sciences are recognised.
- You have received a job offer from a company in Austria which matches your studies.
- Your employer in Austria will pay you a minimum gross monthly salary of at least € 2,551.50 in 2022. This minimum salary is legally prescribed.
If you have not yet successfully concluded your studies in Austria or if you graduated a long time ago, the Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates is not the best way forward for you. Instead, you can find out whether the Blue Card, the Red-White-Red – Card for Very Highly Qualified Workers, the Red-White-Red – Card for Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations or the Red-White-Red – Card for Other Key Workers more closely matches your situation.
In any case, you will have to submit the following documents in order to receive a Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates:
- Application form
- Passport photo fulfilling EU criteria (not older than six months)
- Work-related documents:
- Binding job offer (signed by both parties)
- Proof of successfully concluded studies (diploma, etc.)
- Employer documents:
- Employer’s declaration (“Arbeitgebererklärung”)
- Job description (in German)
- Personal documents:
- Birth certificate
- Police clearance certificate (“Strafregisterbescheinigung”), only if you no longer live in Austria, not older than three months
- Fees: 160
Please note the following:
- The validity of your Red-White-Red Card depends on how long your job offer is valid as well as how long your passport is still valid. If both are valid for at least two years, then your Red-White-Red Card is also valid for a period of two years.
- You will have to present one or more police clearance certificates depending upon the country in which you live. Here you can see which police clearance certificates you will have to obtain. You do not have to present any police clearance certificate if you still live in Austria.
- Personal documents must be specially verified so that these documents are officially recognised. This depends upon the country in which the documents were issued. Here you can look to see which type of verification is necessary.
- If personal documents are not available in German or English, they must be translated by a court-certified translator (“gerichtlich beeidete Übersetzerin/beeideter Übersetzer”).
- If you have to show additional personal documents or if you need a Visa D, the fee to be paid may actually be higher than € 160.
- Registration certificate (“Anmeldebescheinigung”): Sect. 51 ff Austrian Settlement and Residence Act (“Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz” - NAG)
- Student Residence Permit: Sect. 64 NAG
- Work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung“): Sect. 4 Aliens Employment Act (“Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz“ - AuslBG)
- Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates of Austrian Universities: Sect. 41 NAG; Section 12b AuslBG