Visa and working permission

Principally speaking, one of the basic freedoms in the European Union is the free movement of workers. This means that nationals of EU member states as well as of the European Economic Area and Switzerland are allowed to be employed in another member state at any time.

Do I need a work permit to work in Austria?

EU and EEA countries, Swiss

On June 30, 2020, the transitional period originally enacted for the youngest EU member, namely Croatia, has expired. The transitional period was implemented within the context of restricting this basic freedom within the EU following the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union beginning in 2004. After June 30, 2020, all EU citizens enjoy free access to the Austrian labour market. At that point in time, the question as to whether they require visas or work permits in Austria can be answered with an unequivocal “no”. In addition to the EU member states, the free movement of workers in Austria also applies to:

  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

The EU’s right of residence:
Visa exemption

Nationals of the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals are exempt from the requirement of having a visa. They have the right to stay in Austrian territory for a period of three months. The following prerequisites exist in order to exercise the right to reside in Austria for a longer period of time:

  • Self-employment or paid employment in Austria.
  • Sufficient financial means (means of subsistence) and comprehensive health insurance coverage for oneself and eventually also for family members.
  • Attendance of a school or another educational institution for educational purposes and
  • sufficient health insurance coverage for oneself and family members as well as sufficient financial means.

This right of residence is called the Right of Residence under EU Law.

Application for the right of residence under EU law

The responsible authority is the Provincial Governor or the authorised regional or district administrative authority (Bezirkshauptmannschaft) or the local administrative authority (Magistrat) in the statutory cities and the MA 35 in Vienna.

The following documents are required when submitting the application:

  • The completed and signed application form
  • A valid identity card or passport
  • Proof of employment or proof of self-employment

or:

  • Proof of sufficient financial means e.g. by showing savings, retirement benefits and comprehensive health insurance coverage

or:

  • Proof of attendance at or admission to a school or educational institution. (In this case it is also necessary to show proof of comprehensive health insurance coverage as well as sufficient financial means.)

The public authority may also require submission of other documents on a case by case basis, for example an extract from the judicial record. Submitting this with the application can help to speed up the application process.

Visa and residence permit for third-country nationals

Third-country nationals require a residence permit when they stay in Austria for longer than six months. In this case there are various possibilities.

Qualified employees from third countries can apply for the so-called “Red-White-Red Card” which entitles them to settle in Austria for a limited time and to be employed by a specified employer. Entitlement to receive a Red-White-Red Card is determined on the basis of a point system.

Particularly highly-qualified university graduates have the option of applying for the “EU Blue Card“. This is dependent on certain conditions being fulfilled but does not involve a point system.

Highly qualified individuals searching for a suitable job can apply for a Job Seeker Visa entitling them to stay in Austria for a period of six months in order to search for a job.

Stays in Austria of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days are possible without a visa for certain relatives of third-country nationals.

Generally speaking, in the case of non-EU nationals, a distinction is made between:

  • permanent immigration
  • temporary stay
  • temporary employment

The Red-White-Red Card

Qualified workers from third countries can apply for a Red-White-Red Card. The Red-White-Red Card is valid for a period of 24 months and entitles the applicant to fixed-term settlement and employment with a specified employer. In contrast, family members have the possibility to apply for the Red-White-Red Card plus for the purpose of family reunification.

The Red-White-Red Card plus entitles relatives of third-country nationals to fixed term settlement in Austria and unrestricted labour market access. This encompasses both self-employment as well as paid employment and is not limited to a specified employer.
Entitlement to a Red-White-Red Card is determined on the basis of a point system. Here you can find out, with the help of a calculator, whether you fulfil the stipulated prerequisites.

What are the general requirements for the Red-White-Red Card?

  • Adequate financial means to cover living costs: a fixed and regular monthly income which must be at least equal to the particular equalisation supplement reference rate (for singles: € 933.06; for couples: € 1,398.97; for each child additionally: € 143.97)
  • Health insurance coverage which covers all risks, and which provides benefits in Austria.
  • Locally customary accommodation (e.g. on the basis of a rental agreement).
  • Your stay must not be a threat to public order or security or substantially affect Austria’s relations with other countries.

The following groups of people can receive a Red-White-Red Card under certain conditions:

Very highly qualified workers

One option for these individuals is to enter Austria under a Job Seeker Visa to look for work while in Austria. If they receive an employment offer, they can apply for a Red-White-Red Card at the competent residence authority in Austria. The other option, if these individuals have already received an employment offer, is to directly apply for a Red-White-Red Card with the competent Austrian representation in the country or origin or the current country of residence.
Very highly qualified university graduates also have the possibility to apply for the “EU Blue Card”.

The Job Seeker Visa

Third-country nationals with very high qualifications can apply for a residence visa for a period of six months in order to search for a job during this period. The prerequisite is to achieve at least 70 points according to the relevant Points calculator.

Skilled workers in shortage occupations

The prerequisite is completed vocational or educational training in a shortage occupation (Austria-wide shortage occupations and regional shortage occupations for 2020) in accordance with valid regulations, a binding job offer in Austria and reaching the required minimum of 55 points in accordance with the Points calculator.

Shortage occupations are announced by the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection in consultation with the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. A distinction is made between Austria-wide shortage occupations and regional shortage occupations.

Other key workers

A third-country national who wants to take up employment as a key worker in a company on the basis of his or her qualifications can apply for a Red-White-Red Card if:

  • The company will pay the statutory minimum salary (2019: € 3,132 gross monthly salary plus special payments for key workers over 30 years of age and € 2,610 gross monthly salary plus special payments for key workers under the age of 30),
  • No equally qualified person is registered as a Job Seeker with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS),
  • The individual reaches the required score of 55 points according to the Points calculator.

Graduates of an Austrian university

A third-country national who has pursued and successfully completed his/her studies at an Austrian university may renew his or her residence permit for "Students" for a period of twelve months for the purpose of searching for employment in Austria or starting a business. If the individual receives an employment offer from a specified employer (work contract) which matches his or her qualifications, a Red-White-Red Card can be applied for without a labour market test. In addition to the general requirements, the prerequisite is that the individual is paid the locally customary gross minimum salary for career starters (2019: € 2,349 gross per month plus special payments).

A points system is not stipulated for graduates of an Austrian university. 

Self-employed key workers

The prerequisite for obtaining a Red-White-Red Card is that the self-employed work in Austria represents a macroeconomic benefit, for example based on the sustainable transfer of investment capital to Austria amounting to at least € 100,000 or the intended occupation creates new jobs or secures existing jobs in Austria or know-how will be transferred or new technologies will be introduced, or if the business is of considerable significance for the entire region.

There is also no points system for self-employed key workers. 

Start-up founders

An application can be submitted for a Red-White-Red Card for start-up founders if the founding of the company will lead to the development of innovative products, services, processing methods or technologies which will be introduced on the marketplace, a consistent business plan exists, a decisive influence will be exerted on the management of the newly set-up company and the capital of the start-up will amount to at least € 50,000 with an equity share of at least 50%. Moreover, a score of at least 50 points must be achieved according to the Points calculator.

EU Blue Card

The "EU Blue Card" is a residence permit for very highly qualified university graduates from third countries allowing fixed-term settlement in Austria and restricted access to the labour market. The EU Blue Card enables easier access to the labour market, creates favourable conditions for family reunification and facilitates mobility within the EU. Individuals possessing an EU Blue Card can apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus if they were employed for 21 months in line with their qualifications during the preceding 24 months.

Family reunification in Austria

The following family members of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals of people entitled to reside in Austria on the basis of the right of residence under EU law, who do not fulfil the necessary conditions themselves, are also entitled to the right of residence in Austria in accordance with EU regulations:

  • The spouse or registered life partner
  • A direct descendant in descending order (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) aged 21 years or younger or older than 21 if they are still dependent
  • A dependent direct relative in the ascending line (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)
  • A registered partner, inasmuch as the existence of a permanent relationship can be proven
  • Other relatives who were already dependent on the EU, EEA or Swiss national entitled to the right of residence under EU law in the country of origin, who already lived in the same household as this national in the country of origin or who are in need of personal care by this national due to serious health conditions.

Third-country nationals entitled to claim the EU’s right of residence are also entitled to reside in Austria in accordance with the right of residence under EU law and enjoy freedom of movement of workers. Upon request, they are first given a residence card (“Aufenthaltskarte"). After five years of continuous lawful residence in Austria, they receive a permanent residence card ("Daueraufenthaltskarte"), which also serves as an identity document.

This applies to:

  • The spouse or registered life partner
  • A direct descendant in descending order (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) aged 21 years or younger or older than 21 if they are still dependent
  • A dependent direct relative in the ascending line (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)

Temporary residence in Austria

Temporary stay permits can be issued to third country nationals in the case of a temporary stay without the intention to settle down in Austria. For example, this option applies to:

  • Key workers within a company or corporate group who should be temporarily employed in an Austrian branch of the company by their employers. These individuals are termed intra-corporate transferees (“ICT”).
  • Employees of employers from an EU member state without a place of business in Austria who are posted to an Austrian employer for the purpose of fulfilling contractual obligations.
  • Self-employed individuals who pursue a self-employed activity for a period lasting more than six months and who do not have the intention to settle down in Austria.
  • Researchers (a hosting agreement with the research facility must be presented).
  • Employed persons exempted from the regulations contained in the Austrian Act Governing the Employment of Foreign Nationals e.g. au-pairs (in this case a confirmation notification by the Austrian Public Employment Service is required).
  • This also applies to pupils, students, social service employees as well as volunteer workers.

With regard to a temporary residence permit, an application can also be submitted for family members in some cases. However, this option may only be considered for the spouses and registered partners (in both cases over the age of 21) or unmarried under-age children (also adopted children and stepchildren) of the following individuals: intra-corporate transferees, researchers, special cases of paid employment (except for au pairs) and students.

The application must be submitted to the competent Austrian representation abroad (embassy or specified consulates). However, the residence permit itself is granted by the competent residence authority of the intended place of residence i.e.

  • the Provincial Governor or
  • the authorised regional or
    • district administrative authority (Bezirkshauptmannschaft) or
    • the local administrative authority (Magistrat) in statutory cities and the MA 35 in Vienna

Fixed-term employment

Special requirements and procedures apply to the following groups of people in the case of residence and work permits or in the granting of residence visas:

  • Seasonal workers in the fields of tourism and agriculture as well as harvest helpers.
  • Employees of foreign companies who are sent to Austria in order to fulfil contractual obligations (posting of workers).
  • Employees of foreign companies who are hired out to Austrian companies (transnational hiring of workers).
  • Key workers within a company or corporate group who are temporarily employed in an Austrian branch of the company by their employers (ICT or mobile ICT).

Download info brochure

Concise information about living and working in Austria and the services of ABA - Work in Austria can be found in our info brochure for skilled workers.