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Immigration from non-EU countries

Since 1 July 2011, the immigration of skilled workers from around the world interested in relocating to Austria has been made possible by the “Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte” (Red-White-Red Card system). This criteria-led immigration system (points system) allows qualified workers from third countries (another system applies to people from EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and their family members to permanently immigrate to Austria. The “Red-White-Red Card“ is aimed at the following groups of people:

Content:

“Red-White-Red Card“ in general

With the “Red-White-Red Card“ system, interested persons from non-EU countries can immediately ascertain if and under which conditions they are eligible for immigration based on objective criteria. The points system is based on the following criteria: 

  • Qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Language skills
  • Age
  • Studies completed in Austria (for those who are very highly qualified)

The “Red-White-Red Card“ is issued for 12 months and allows employment with the employer for which it was requested. After one year the “Red-White-Red Card plus" can be applied for, this grants the holder unlimited access to the labour market.

Persons who immigrate to Austria with the “Red-White-Red Card“ do not need to prove German language skills before entering the country (they are not subject to the requirement of “German prior to immigration”). However, points can be collected for knowledge of the German or English language.

Family members of workers who immigrate using the “Red-White-Red Card“ are not subject to the quota requirement and receive a “Red-White-Red Card“ with instant free access to the labour market. The “German prior to immigration” regulation must be observed by family members.

Immigration regulations for qualified workers were also created at the level of the European Union, which have been implemented in each individual EU country. In Austria, this was introduced by way of the „EU Blue Card ".

Very highly qualified workers

For very highly qualified immigrants the following conditions apply:

  • They do not need to provide proof of a job offer prior to immigration.
  • When they reach the minimum number of points (at least 70 out of 100 points) they will receive a 6 month visa in order to find a job in Austria (job seeker visa).
  • If they find a job that matches their qualifications in these 6 months, they will then be issued the “Red-White-Red Card“ without further labour market tests.

In addition to the general criteria of professional experience, language skills and age, the points system for very highly qualified workers [pdf, 91.3kb] takes into account special qualifications and skills that are in high demand on the Austrian labour market.

The “job seeker visa” can be applied for at the relevant Austrian embassy or consulate.

If visa-free entry is possible, application for the “Red-White-Red Card“ during the visa-free stay can then be made directly in Austria.

Find more information about the application procedure and carry out a preliminary check with the help of the online points calculator to see whether you meet the criteria.

Skilled workers in shortage occupations

Certain occupations are in high demand in Austria and in these areas there is a shortage of skilled workers. For skilled workers from around the world there is a good chance of finding employment in these areas. The“Red-White-Red Card“ makes it possible to immigrate to Austria more easily and to gain a job here in accordance with the relevant qualifications.

Each year, a list with shortage occupations , based on the needs of the labour market, is created and published. Skilled workers from non-EU countries can apply for the “Red-White-Red Card“ under the following conditions:

  • They have completed professional education in a shortage occupation.
  • They have a job offer in Austria that is paid the legal or collectively agreed minimum wage plus any customary overpayment.
  • They have attained the required minimum number of points (at least 50 out of 75 points) of the points system for workers in shortage occupations [pdf, 100.0kb].

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can either be applied for at the appropriate Austrian embassy or the consulate abroad directly in Austria, particularly if visa-free entry is possible.

Find more information about the application procedure and carry out a preliminary check with the help of the online points calculator to see whether you meet the criteria.

Other key workers

Persons from non-EU countries can also establish themselves in the versatile Austrian labour market within the framework of the immigration track “other key workers”. Immigration via the “Red-White-Red Card“ is possible for international key workers under the following conditions:

  • They produce evidence of a job offer with the required minimum wage. Regular due allowances, fixed rates (e.g. overtime fixed rates) and benefits in kind can in this case be included in the gross pay. Minimum wage 2016:
    • for those under 30 years of age EUR 2,490 before tax per month
    • for those over 30 years of age EUR 2,988before tax per month
  • They have attained the required minimum number of points (at least 50 out of 75 points) of the points system for other key workers [pdf, 78.6kb].
  • The labour market service determines as part of a labour market test (replacement worker procedure) that no suitable worker is available for the job in question within the Austrian labour market.

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can either be applied for at the appropriate Austrian embassy or consulate abroad or directly in Austria, particularly if a visa-free entry is possible.

Find more information about the application procedure and carry out a preliminary check with the help of the online points calculator to see whether you meet the criteria.

Self-employed key workers

Austria's economy is characterised by strong entrepreneurship with a high export ratio and innovative strength. Its location in the heart of Europe makes Austria a pivotal point between the industrialised countries of Western Europe and the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Emerging entrepreneurs from around the world can benefit from these competitive terms and the international nature of Austria's location.

Via the “Red-White-Red Card“ for independent key workers from non-EU states, immigration and establishment of a company in Austria is possible. For this purpose, the immigrant must show that their intended self-employment in Austria represents an overall economic benefit.

This overall economic benefit, which is determined by the assessment of the labour market service is granted especially if 

  • the employment is connected with a sustainable transfer of investment capital to Austria or
  • the intended employment will create new jobs or will ensure existing jobs or
  • the settlement of the key worker is connected with a transfer of know-how or the introduction of new technologies or
  • the company’s key strength has significant importance for the entire region.

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can either be applied for at the appropriate Austrian embassy or consulate abroad or directly in Austria, particularly if a visa-free entry is possible.

You can find details about the “Red-White-Red Card“ for self-employed key workers here.

Foreign graduates

Young people from all around the world come to Austria to take advantage of the courses offered by the universities and Universities of Applied Sciences. During their studies they will acquire the expertise of the respective field of study and become familiar with the language, culture and working environment. Due to these acquired skills and knowledge, they represent an enormous potential for the Austrian economy.

For graduates from non-EU countries, less stringent conditions apply for obtaining a “Red-White-Red Card“ and working here.

  • After graduating, they are entitled to stay for another 6 months in Austria to find a job, if they have at least completed the 2nd section of study of a diploma or master’s programme in its entirety at an Austrian university, University of Applied Science or accredited private university.
  • They can apply for the “Red-White-Red Card” if there is a job offer that matches their level of education and where they would earn the required minimum wage.
    Minimum wage 2017: EUR 2,241 before tax per month
  • They do not have to go through a points system, the replacement worker procedure by the labour market service is also omitted.

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can be applied for directly in Austria during the 6 month stay. You can find more detailed information at the migration portal .

Employment opportunities while studying:

Students from non-EU countries may already gain practical experience during their studies and may work to the extent as specified below:

  • up to 10 hours a week in the 1st section of study of a diploma or bachelor’s programme,
  • up to 20 hours a week in the 2nd section of study of a diploma or master’s programme

No replacement worker procedure is implemented for the purpose of issuing the work permit (application carried out by employer). Thus, the major hurdle ceases to apply when issuing a work permit.

Family members

The “Red-White-Red Card“ enables international workers and their families to build a life together in Austria.

Family members of holders of a “Red-White-Red Card“ or „EU Blue Card" can apply for a so-called “Red-White-Red Card plus”. This enables them to also immigrate to Austria:

  • The immigration of family members is not limited (no quota).
  • They have instant free access to the labour market.
  • They must, however, already have German language knowledge at level A1 of the Common European Framework for Languages (“German prior to immigration”) before entering.
  • For family members of very highly qualified workers and of holders of the EU Blue Card, “German prior to immigration” does not apply. It is not compulsory to prove German language proficiency beforehand.

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can either be applied for at the appropriate Austrian embassy or consulate abroad or directly in Austria, particularly if a visa-free entry is possible.

Find out more about the concrete steps of an application .

Last modified
2017.08.11
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