Working as a Researcher in Austria

Are you a third-country national with a PhD or doctorate or Master’s degree giving you access to a doctoral programme? Do you also have a long-term job offer (for a job lasting more than six months) for scientific work as a researcher for a recognised research facility in Austria? In this case, the so-called Settlement Permit – Researcher (“Niederlassungsbewilligung Forscher”) could be a suitable residence permit for you.

The Settlement Permit – Researcher targets third-country nationals who want to pursue scientific work for a research facility in Austria within the context of a specific research project after getting an advanced academic degree (at least a Master’s enabling participation in a doctoral programme).

For this purpose, a hosting agreement (“Aufnahmevereinbarung”) between the research facility and the researcher must be concluded, amongst other prerequisites.  


The Austrian Exchange Service (“Österreichischer Austauschdienst - OeAD”) provides comprehensive information and tailored advisory services for researchers and students on the issue of residence permits at no charge.  

What is a research facility?

In any case, research facilities include all Austrian state-run universities.

Examples: University of Graz, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, University of Vienna

Private universities and private research facilities must be certified in order to be allowed to conclude a hosting agreement.  

Examples: Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg (“Paracelsus Medizinische Privatuniversität Salzburg”) – a private foundation, Central European University – CEU, Institute for Human Sciences (“Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen”), VRVis Zentrum für Virtual Reality und Visualisierung Forschungs-GmbH    

Generally, research facilities operated by a state-run institution are exceptions to this rule and do not need their own certification in order to be able to conclude hosting agreements as a research facility.

Examples: I.S.T. Austria - Institute of Science and Technology – Austria, ACIB - Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology, Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH


You can see all the certified research facilities and all research facilities which do not require certification on the list available on the website of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. However, the list of research facilities which do not require certification is by no means complete. As a rule, a university clinic which is part of a state-run medical university and carries out research projects can conclude a hosting agreement because it is operated by a state-run institution – even if it is not named on the list.  

You must also receive a specified minimum salary because of your work at the research institution in order to be able to prove that you can cover the costs of your stay in Austria. Another option is to prove that you have other financial means at your disposal (e.g., private funds) to cover the costs of your being in Austria.


Is the Settlement Permit – Researcher not an option for you because, for example, you will not work for a recognised research facility? In this case, under certain circumstances (depending on your qualifications and planned activity), a Red-White-Red – Card or Blue Card could be an attractive alternative for you.  

Necessary documents

  • Application form
  • Passport
  • Passport photo fulfilling EU criteria (not older than six months)
  • Personal documents:
    • Police clearance certificate (“Strafregisterbescheinigung”), no more than 3 months old
  • Work-related documents:
    • Proof of successfully concluded studies (doctorate/PhD or university diploma providing access to the doctoral programs)
    • Hosting agreement
  • Fees: EUR 160

Validity, extension, family reunification

After these 2 years, you can obtain a Red-White-Red – Card Plus, which in turn gives you unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market. In this case, you are no longer bound to a specific employer and can freely decide whether you want to work as a salaried employee or on a self-employed basis.  

If you have concluded your research work and have not been in Austria for 2 years, but would like to remain in the country, you can also extend your Settlement Permit – Researcher for further 12 months for the purpose of looking for work or establishing your own company. In this case, you have to provide the Immigration and Residence Authority with proof that you have successfully concluded your research work to get this extension. Subsequently, you can only change over from the extended Settlement Permit – Researcher to a Red-White-Red – Card, an EU Blue Card, a Settlement Permit – Researcher or similar residence permits. You will not be allowed to apply for a Red-White-Red – Card Plus when you have an extended Settlement Permit – Researcher.

Are you immigrating to Austria with your family? Family members of researchers can apply for a Red-White-Red – Card Plus, granting them unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market. Your family members will be able to decide whether they want to work in Austria as salaried employees or on a self-employed basis.

Short stay in Austria as a researcher

In any case, you will need a visa for gainful employment purposes if you want to work in Austria as a researcher, even if you are otherwise permitted to enter the country without a visa. You can begin your research work immediately after entering the country. 
You can apply to the Austrian representative authority for a visa no earlier than 6 months before the planned date of entering the country but at least 4 weeks beforehand. 


If your future employer is a state-run university, a research facility operated by the state or a certified research facility, and this research facility presents the following documents on your behalf to the Austrian representative authority in your country of residence:  

  • a Declaration of Commitment (“Verpflichtungserklärung“)
  • the employment contract (“Arbeitsvertrag”) and  
  • the contact addresses,

a simplified process is applied for your entering the country, staying within the country’s boundaries and the prompt commencement of work.  

You will then promptly get a special appointment to appear before the Austrian representative authority and submit an application for the issuing of a visa for gainful employment (Visa C or Visa D). If the simplified process should also apply to your family members, the Declaration of Commitment must also encompass your family members too.


If you are already in the Schengen Area with a residence permit from another Schengen country, you can only apply for a visa to enter Austria to the Austrian representative authorities in Bratislava, Ljubljana and Munich.

Legal Foundation

Sect. 43c Austrian Settlement and Residence Act (“Niederlassungs- und Aufenthaltsgesetz” - NAG) (Settlement Permit – Researcher), Sect. 41a Para. 4 NAG (Red-White-Red– Card Plus in the extension process), Sect. 46 Para. 1 (1) NAG (Red-White-Red – Card Plus for Family Members)