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Expats who are not citizens of EU-member states must obtain a work permit to legally take up employment in Austria. This is not a straightforward process, due to the fact there are a number of different types of work permits available depending on an expat's field of work and their level of skill and qualifications.
It is important to note that expats from non-EU-member states must apply for the relevant entry visa or work permit at the Austrian embassy or consulate in their home country prior to travelling to Austria.
Types of work permits in Austria
Valid for two years, this work-and-residence permit is granted to non-EU foreigners who score adequately on a points-based immigration system. Points are granted for various desirable attributes, such as special skills and qualifications, work experience and language skills.
After two years, Red-White-Red Card holders become eligible to apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus. This gives expats fixed-term settlement and free access to the labour market, allowing them to change employers without having to reapply for a new Red-White-Red Card.
EU Blue Card
This is a residence-and-work permit which allows highly qualified non-EU citizens to live and work in Austria for a period of up to two years. Applicants for an EU Blue Card must have completed a university degree course of at least three years. Their qualifications must match the job profile and the salary specified in the contract must be at least one and half times higher than the average yearly income of full-time workers in Austria. This type of work permit will only be granted if the Austrian Public Employment Service is satisfied that the company could not find a suitable Austrian or EU citizen to do the job.
As with the Red-White-Red Card, after two years EU Blue Card holders are entitled to apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus and gain all associated privileges.
Red-White-Red Card Plus
Red-White-Red and EU Blue Card holders must work for the same Austrian employer for two years to be granted a Red-White-Red Card Plus. However, family members moving to Austria to join either an Austrian citizen or a holder of an employment card are eligible for a Red-White-Red Card Plus right away.
Job Seeker Visas for Austria
This type of work permit is aimed at highly qualified non-EU citizens who want to work in Austria but have not yet secured a job and therefore cannot apply for an EU Blue Card or a Red-White-Red Card. As with the Red-White-Red Card, the Job Seeker Visa utilises a points-based system that applicants must satisfy to be eligible for this visa.
Under a Job Seeker Visa, an expat is allowed to visit Austria for up to six months for the purpose of finding and securing a job, but it does not allow them to work. Once expats have secured a suitable position, they must still apply for a relevant work permit.
*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.