- Working in Austria
The EU Blue Card – An Overview
The EU Blue Card (“Blaue Karte EU”) represents an attractive, combined residence and work permit which targets well-qualified workers from third countries who want to reside in Austria and be gainfully employed for a longer period of time than six months.
The regulations relating to the EU Blue Card are based on the revised Directive (EU) 2021/1883, also known as the European Blue Card Directive, and are implemented in Austria within the context of the Austrian Residence and Settlement Act as well as the Act Governing the Employment of Foreign Nationals.
By Stephanie Maya Flasch, Immigration and Residence Services
Basic requirements for the issuance of an EU Blue Card
Just like the Red-White-Red – Card based on national law, the EU Blue Card is valid for a period of up to two years and binds its holder to a specific employer with a registered office in Austria.
Accordingly, a binding job offer from a company based in Austria is the basis for applying for the EU Blue Card.
Moreover, the following pre-requisites must exist:
- Education/professional experience
Completion of a course of studies with a minimum duration of three years which fits the desired position. Or else, in the case of a job offer in the IT sector, proof of at least three years of relevant professional experience is sufficient if this experience was gained within the seven years prior to submission of the application.
- Minimum salary
The annual gross income must not be less than the legally stipulated minimum salary of € 45,595 (2023).
The EU Blue Card is issued in the form of a check card and includes the name, date of birth and nationality of the skilled worker, identified by means of a photo, as well as the period of validity of the EU Blue Card and the name of the company where the individual will be employed.
Notes on procedures
You can find a list of the required documents needed for the application of an EU Blue Card as well as detailed information on the application process on our website.
The Austrian Public Employment Service (“Arbeitsmarktservice” – AMS) is authorised, if deemed necessary, to conduct a labour market check (“Arbeitsmarktprüfung”) when applications for the EU Blue Card are submitted. In such cases, it may propose skilled workers who are just as qualified or are even more qualified, who are already registered as job seekers and could subsequently apply for the particular position (“Ersatzkraftverfahren”).
An alternative approach without the possibility of a potential labour market check, for example, would be applying for the Red-White-Red – Card for Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations (“Rot-Weiß-Rot-Karte für Fachkräfte in Mangelberufen”) - provided that the desired employment is actually in such a shortage occupation and all pre-requisites are fulfilled. You will find information on the different categories of the Red-White-Red – Card on our website.
Just like the Red-White-Red – Card, the skilled worker is only permitted to actually begin working for the Austrian employer after personally picking up the EU Blue Card. Starting on the first day of employment, the company has three days within which to notify the responsible department (“Ausländerfachzentrum”) of the Austrian Public Employment Service of the beginning of the employment relationship. The same procedure must be carried out when the employment relationship is (prematurely) terminated.
A copy of the front and back of the EU Blue Card must be on file at the place of work. Moreover, both the human resources department of the company as well as the cardholder must be aware of the expiry date of the card so that a renewal application can be initiated in a timely manner.
Immigrating with family
As in the case of applying for the Red-White-Red – Card, immediate members of the family (spouse, civil partner, children up to their 18th birthday) may immigrate to Austria together with the applicant for the EU Blue Card. You can find further information on the Red-White-Red – Card Plus for family members of skilled workers with an EU Blue Card as well as a list of necessary documents on our website.
Main differences between the EU Blue Card and the Red-White-Red – Card
- No points system
There is no points system to take into account when applying for the EU Blue Card in contrast to most categories of the Red-White-Red – Card. For this reason, the list of documents required for the EU Blue Card is shorter than, for example, for a Red-White-Red – Card for Other Key Workers. Neither special language skills nor age play a role in the application process.
When an application is submitted for an EU Blue Card, no member of the family immigrating with the skilled worker is required to show proof of German language competencies in order to obtain a Red-White-Red Card – Plus. Therefore, neither a German certificate at an A1 level nor a university diploma as a substitute will have to be presented. This also applies to family members of individuals applying for the Red-White-Red – Card for Very Highly Qualified Workers (“Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte für Besonders Hochqualifizierte”) or for a Settlement Permit – Researcher (“Niederlassungsbewilligung – Forscher”).
- Simplified change of employers within the European Union
Individuals holding an EU Blue Card of another EU member state are not automatically allowed to pursue gainful employment in Austria. However, the following simplified procedure exists:
Applicants for an EU Blue Card for Austria who at this point in time have already held an EU Blue Card in another EU member state for at least twelve months are permitted to tentatively begin working for an Austrian employer after the expiry of a 30-day period following their application – provided that the AMS does not change or suspend this period by issuing a notification to the contrary.
If the skilled worker already had an EU Blue Card from another i.e., third EU member state immediately beforehand, employment lasting at least six months on the basis of an EU Blue Card of another EU member state is sufficient in order to at least tentatively begin working for a company 30 days after submission of the application. This also only applies as long as the AMS does not change or suspend this period by issuing a notification to the contrary.
Ms. Oliveira is a Brazilian national and currently holds an EU Blue Card issued in Germany, with which she has worked in Germany for 6.5 months. Recently she received a job offer from a company based in Austria. She is ready to relocate to Austria and work here. For this reason, her future Austrian employer submits an application on her behalf for an EU Blue Card. Before Ms. Oliveira obtained her current EU Blue Card for Germany, she had already possessed an EU Blue Card for France immediately beforehand. As a result, she is already entitled to tentatively begin working for her new Austrian employer after expiry of the 30-day period after applying for the EU Blue Card for Austria – as long as this period is not changed or suspended by the AMS issuing a notification to the contrary.
- Short-term mobility within the EU
Holders of an EU Blue Card enjoy a higher level of flexibility with respect to mobility within the EU:
Individuals holding an EU Blue Card of another EU member state do not require either a Permission of Posting (“Entsendebewilligung”) or a work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”) if they want to pursue gainful employment in Austria for up to 90 days within a 180-day period for an activity described in detail in the Act Governing the Employment of Foreign Nationals – inasmuch as this activity is directly related to the interests of the employer in the other member state.
Nevertheless, in principle it is still required to notify the Central Coordination Office (“Zentrale Koordinationsstelle des Bundesministeriums für Finanzen” / “ZKO") at the Ministry of Finance for the Monitoring of Illegal Employment provided that no exception exists pursuant to the Anti-Wage and Social Dumping Act. The AMS continues to issue EU Permissions of Posting or Confirmations of Hiring Out for holders of an EU Blue Card of another EU member state on the basis of notifications to this Central Coordination Office.
Various simplifications also apply to business trips to other EU member states undertaken by holders of an EU Blue Card issued in Austria. For example, in accordance with the European Blue Card Directive, EU member states are required to refrain from requiring either a visa or a work permit from an individual if the business activity is directly related to the interests of the Austrian employer. Nevertheless, before any business trip to another EU member state, it is important to clarify the particular regulations which apply.
- Long-term mobility and permissible periods of absence from the EEA
When applying for a a Long-Term Resident EU permit (“Daueraufenthal EU”), which is possible after residing in Austria for five years, holders of an EU Blue Card have advantages when it comes to permissible periods of absence.
Applicants for the issuance of a Long-Term Resident EU permit are required to show proof of their continuous residence in Austria during the previous five-year period.
During this period of five years, holders of an EU Blue Card are permitted to spend up to 18 months in total or 12 months at a time outside of the EEA region without losing their right to obtain a Long-Term Resident EU permit (assuming all the other preconditions are fulfilled). Periods of absence above and beyond the stipulated limits are considered by the law to be an interruption of the required time of residence with respect to the five-year period.
The times in which the person uninterruptedly resided in another member state on the basis of an EU Blue Card issued in this particular country (or a similar residence permit for highly qualified occupations in accordance with the respective national laws or a residence permit as a researcher, person granted the right to asylum or subsidiary protection) are fully taken into account before the person received an EU Blue Card to work in Austria and resided here uninterruptedly for at least two years.
If the person previously held a Residence Permit - Student in another EU member state, half of the time spent there will be credited in calculating the stipulated five-year period.
Feel free to make use of our Immigration Guide in order to get an assessment of the best immigration option for your own particular situation or for your skilled worker! Both our Immigration Guide and our website also contain information on extending an EU Blue Card issued in Austria.
Do you have any questions which we did not answer in this blog? Would you appreciate additional advice, or a check of the forms and documents required for the EU Blue Card?
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