The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card (“Blaue Karte EU”) targets third-country nationals with a binding job offer in a company in Austria which pays them an avarage salary. The EU Blue Card does not apply a point system like most Red-White-Red – Cards.
You have to fulfill the following prerequisites:
- completed a three-year university programm which matches your job offer OR
- have gained at least 3 years of relevant job experience within the last 7 years prior to application, comparable to academic level, if you apply for a job in the IT industry.
2. Your employer in Austria pays you a gross annual salary of at least € 45.595 in the year 2023. This minimum salary is legally stipulated.
Holders of an EU Blue Card or Red-White-Red Card valid in Austria are allowed to pursue a self-employed activity in addition to their employed activity, but only to a minor extent.
If you have not pursued appropriate studies or, as a skilled worker in the IT industry, do not fulfill the mentioned requirements, and/or will earn less than the prescribed minimum salary, the EU Blue Card is not the best way forward for you. Instead, you can find out whether the Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates, 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.
Documents for the EU Blue Card
In any case, you will have to submit the following documents in order to receive an EU Blue Card:
- Application form
- Passport photo fulfilling EU criteria (not older than six months)
- Work-related documents:
- Binding job offer (signed by both parties)
- Updated curriculum vitae
- Proof of successfully concluded studies (diploma, etc.) OR proof of sufficient relevant job experience in case of IT professionals
- Employer documents:
- Employer’s declaration (“Arbeitgebererklärung”)
- Job description
- Personal documents:
- Police clearance certificate (“Strafregisterbescheinigung”), not older than three months
Fees: 160 €
Please note the following:
- The validity of your EU Blue Card depends on the duration of your employment as well as on your passport's validity. If both are valid for at least 2 years, your EU Blue Card is also valid for a period of 2 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.
- 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 check which type of verification is necessary.
- If personal documents were not issued 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.
Please pay attention to the number of visa-free days you are entitled to! In general, you have 90 days (out of 180) in which you can stay in the Schengen Area. Once you have used up this allotment of visa-free days, you will no longer be allowed to submit the application in Austria because you are no longer legally in the country.
After you and your future employer have gathered all the necessary documents, the application must be submitted to an Austrian public authority. There are several options:
- Your employer submits the application on your behalf to the Immigration and Residence Authority (“Aufenthaltsbehörde“) in Austria. This applies regardless of your nationality and your country of residence. This option has the advantage that your application is submitted directly to the public authority which processes your application. Moreover, this option allows you to submit certain documents via email at a later stage (for example, verifications).
- You submit the application to the Austrian representative authority (embassy/consulate) in your country of residence. If you select this option, your application must be complete when submitted. As a rule, it is not possible to provide any missing documents afterwards. Your application is then sent from the representative authority to Austria via postal services. For this reason, the immigration process based on this option usually takes longer than with the first option.
- If you are entitled to travel to Austria without a visa or you already live in Austria, you are permitted to personally submitted your application to the Immigration and Residence Authority in Austria. This is also possible if, as a person not entitled to visa-free entry, you dispose of a valid visa allowing you to enter the country and apply for your EU Blue Card on Austrian territory. Just as option 1, this option comes with the advantage that the application is submitted directly to the public authority which processes it. Moreover, this option allows you to submit certain documents via email.
Before you or your employer submit the application, you must decide where in Austria you want to live. This is important because Austria does not have one single branch of the Immigration and Residence Authority but many. Which of these branches is actually responsible for you depends on your future place of residence in Austria. Once you have selected a particular place (e.g., town), any change is complicated and not recommended. This means that you will need to look for appropriate housing during your application process. Also, please keep in mind that you will need to register your main residence upon immigrating to Austria and before collecting your permit.
Immigrating with your family to Austria
Do you want to immigrate to Austria with your family? In this case, please take the following into consideration:
- If you apply for any Red-White-Red – Card or for an EU Blue Card, your family members can apply for and obtain a so-called Red-White-Red – Card Plus. A simultaneous submission is possible.
- Just as in your case as skilled worker, your future employer can file your family members' applications for them in Austria together with yours. It is important that your family members' application packages are complete.
- If your family is allowed to travel to Austria without a visa, they may also directly submit their applications to the Immigration and Residence Authority in Austria. It is important that your family has a sufficient number of visa-free days at their disposal. If you as a skilled worker apply for an EU Blue Card, your family members who are not entitled to visa-free entry may also file their applications in Austria, provided that they dispose of valid visas.
As soon as you or your employer have submitted your application, various public authorities will evaluate your application. The Immigration and Residence Authority will check to see if you fulfil all the general prerequisites, for example if your passport is valid and if all your documents have the correct verifications. The Austrian Public Employment Service (“Arbeitsmarktservice” - AMS) will review the prerequisites under valid labour regulations. Moreover, AMS may also carry out a so-called labour market test (“Ersatzkraftverfahren”) to help determine if there are other equally qualified individuals on the Austrian labour market who could potentially get your position. The entire evaluation usually takes several weeks, in which you may have to certain missing documents if required. Ideally, the evaluation ends with the formal approval of your application.
All further steps depend upon whether or not you are allowed to enter Austria without a visa or not.
- You live in Austria, have applied for the Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates and your application has been approved? Congratulations! You are permitted to begin working as soon as you receive your card!
- Are you allowed to enter Austria without a visa? As soon as your application for your Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card has been approved, you may go directly to your Immigration and Residence Authority in order to have your fingerprints taken. Furthermore, you will have to show your original personal documents (passport, birth certificate, police clearance certificate, etc.). Your Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card will then be printed. You are permitted to begin working as soon as you receive your card!
- Are you not permitted to enter Austria without a visa? In this case, after your application has been approved, you will receive an invitation from the Austrian representative authority (embassy, consulate) in your country of residence. In this invitation, you will be asked to apply for a so-called Visa D within the following three months and to pick up your Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card in Austria within a period of six months. In order to receive a Visa D, you will need the following documents:
- Application form
- Passport with copy
- Invitation of the representative authority
- Approval of the Immigration and Residence Authority
- Travel insurance (coverage of at least € 30,000)
- Flight reservation
In general, it will take about 2 weeks until the Visa D is stamped in your passport. During this processing time, the embassy will keep your passport. As soon as you have your Visa D, you can travel to Austria and have your fingerprints taken. Furthermore, you will have to show your personal documents (passport, birth certificate, police clearance certificate, etc.). Your card will then be printed. You are permitted to begin working as soon as you receive your card!
- You are not entitled to visa-free entry but have filed an application for an EU Blue Card in Austria based on a valid visa? In that case, you can stay in Austria for the duration of the process as long as your visa is valid. Should the visa be close to expiring and you have not yet received your EU Blue Card, you need to leave Austrian territory in time. To re-entry the country to collect your permit, you have to apply for a new visa (type D) at the respective Austrian representation authority (embassy/consulate).
If both your passport and your work contract are valid for at least 2 years, your Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card is also valid for 2 years. You are bound to your employer during this two-year period. If you would like to or have to change employers during this time, this is only possible on the basis of a so-called change in purpose process (“Zweckänderung“).In this case, the public authorities in Austria will once again check to see if you fulfill all prerequisites. You are only permitted to begin working for a new employer once you have received your new Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card. There is a special provision in place for holders of an EU Blue Card desiring to change their employer after 12 months: no labour market test (as otherwise possible for this type of permit) may be carried out by AMS and emplyoment with the new employer may be taken up preliminarily right away.
You may submit an extension application (“Verlängerungsantrag“) for a so-called Red-White-Red – Card Plus after 21 months of working in Austria. This card gives you unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market. You are no longer bound to your employer. If your passport is valid for at least 3 years, your Red-White-Red – Card Plus will also be valid for a period of 3 years.
You and your family always have to submit your extension applications before the current residence permit expires. You are only allowed to submit extension applications no earlier than 3 months before the expiration of the current residence permit.
If you and your family would like to live in Austria on a permanent basis, the following approach to permanent residence would make sense for you:
- You have a Red-White-Red – Card or an EU Blue Card for 2 years. Your family has a Red-White-Red – Card Plus for 2 years.
- After these 2 years, you and your family extend your respective residence permits. You all apply for and receive Red-White-Red – Cards Plus, which are valid for a period of 3 years.
- Following this three-year period, i.e., after a total of 5 years in Austria, you and your family apply for the so-called Long-Term Resident EU permit (“Daueraufenthalt EU”). You must submit a German certificate at level B1, amongst other prerequisites. The EU permanent residence permit is valid for 5 years and only needs to be extended every 5 years.
Feel free to check out further information on the calculation of this five-year period preceding the Long-Term Resident EU permit here.
- EU Blue Card: Sect. 42 NAG; Sect. 12c AuslBG