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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 24 months and allows employment with the employer for which it was requested. Afterwards 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 55 out of 90 points) of the points system for workers in shortage occupations [pdf, 42.7kb].

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 /  Founders of start-ups

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.

Key positions may be filled by self-employed citizens of non-EU countries when this employment is of significant benefit to either a specific region or the wider economy. In particular, when the employment:

• occurs in the context of a capital investment in Austria to the value of at least EUR 100,000, or
• contributes to the creation of new jobs or the securing of existing ones.

That these conditions are satisfied must be clearly demonstrated in a business plan and confirmed by a positive, written assessment from the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) .

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.

Founders of start-ups

From October 2017 onwards, founders of start-ups will be included in the Red-White-Red Card system as qualified immigrants and a separate points system [pdf, 47.6kb] established for them.

Young entrepreneurs intending to establish a start-up can obtain a Red-White-Red Card if they meet the following requirements:

  • Attainment of the minimum number of points (50 out of 85 points)
  • Development of innovative products, services, methods or technologies and their introduction on the market
  • Presentation of a coherent business plan for the establishment and operation
  • Exercising of an active role in the company management by the applicant
  • Proof of capital in the amount of EUR 50,000 (at least half of which is equity)

After two years, founders of start-ups have the opportunity to change to the Red-White-Red Card plus – if they meet the following requirements:

  • Employment of at least two full-time staff
  • Actual exercising of fundamental influence over the company management in person
  • Attainment of an annual turnover of at least EUR 200,000 or ensuring the financing of at least EUR 100,000
  • Actual offering or development of an innovative product or service.

The fulfilment of the requirements will be checked by means of a written appraisal by the Public Employment Service Austria (AMS).  The changeover to a Red-White-Red Card plus results in the founder of the start-up having unlimited access to the labour market. If the requirements for a Red-White-Red Card plus are not met, founders of start-ups can change to a settlement permit after two years.

The Red-White-Red Card can be applied for from the responsible Austrian embassy or the consulate abroad respectively or directly in Austria, in particular when entry without a visa is possible.

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 12 months in Austria to find a job, if they have at least completed the 2nd section of study of a diploma programme or have obtained a bachelor's, master’s or PhD degree at an Austrian public university, university of applied sciences 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 Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) is also omitted.

The “Red-White-Red Card“ can be applied for directly in Austria during the 12 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 for up to 20 hours per week.

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 .

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