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Work and migration

Here you can find information on the topic of labour migration of EU/EEA citizens and persons from third countries. More detailed information in German and English is available on our migration portal.

The employment of foreign citizens

The legal basis for the admission of foreign workers to the Austrian labour market is formed by the Employment of Foreign Citizens Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz) and the corresponding provisions of the Settlement and Residency Act  and the Immigration Authorities Act 2005.

Workers from EU/EEA states

Workers from EU Member States and from the EEA states of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have free access to the Austrian labour market and do not require a work permit to start work (they enjoy freedom of movement for workers). This also applies to workers from Switzerland (agreement on freedom of movement between the EU and Switzerland) as well as to workers from Croatia (from 1 July 2020).

EU/EEA workers who wish to remain in Austria for more than three months require a certificate of registration with the authorities. This is issued by the relevant registry office.

Workers from EU/EEA states who have a place of residence in Austria can obtain the support of the Public Employment Service (AMS) in their search for a job vacancy. Those who do not yet have a place of residence in Austria can look for job vacancies via the European job mobility portal EURES.

Workers from third countries (non-EU/EEA states)

For long-term access to the labour market, workers from third countries require a combined work and residence permit which either enables employment for a specific employer (e.g. the Red-White-Read Card, or grants  free access to the labour market (e.g. Red-White-Red Card Plus or EU permanent residence).

Long-term immigration – Red-White-Red Card

Qualified workers from third countries and their family members can obtain permanent residence and work in Austria with the Red-White-Red Card Access is granted via a points system.

The most important criteria for the award of a Red-White-Red Card are:
qualifications, work experience, language ability, age, a suitable job offer and appropriate payment.

The following groups of persons can obtain a Red-White-Red Card:

  • particularly highly-qualified persons;
  • skilled workers in fields where there is a shortage;
  • other key workers;
  • university graduates;
  • self-employed key workers, and
  • founders of start-up companies.

The Red-White-Red Card is issued for 24 months and entitles a person to take up residence and to employment with a specific employer.

Red-White-Red Card plus

The Red-White-Red Card plus entitles a person to settle in Austria and to unlimited access to the labour market.

Persons who have already been employed with a Red-White-Red Card for 21 months within the last 24 months can apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus.

Specialist and key workers with a Red-White-Red Card can be joined in Austria by members of their families. The latter immediately receive a Red-White-Red Card plus and unlimited access to the labour market.

Persons who have already been resident in Austria for five years can apply for the granting of Permanent residence EU. This entitles the holder to permanent residence and unlimited access to the labour market. An advanced knowledge of German is required for this permit (B1 level).

Labour market access for school pupils and students

Pupils and students with a residence permit can also work if their education or training – as the main reason for their stay – is not impaired by this.
Pupils and students who are citizens of third countries are subject to the Employment of Foreign Citizens Act and require a work permit in order to take on employment in Austria. This also applies to marginal part-time work.

Temporary employment – posting by companies

Employees who are posted to Austria to carry out work by a foreign company which does not have a registered office in Austria are entitled to at least the payment including special payments, overtime pay and other supplements which Austrian workers are entitled to according to legislation, regulations or collective agreements.

Further details are available on our posting platform.

Temporary employment – intra-corporate transfers (ICT)

Key workers who are to be temporarily posted by their company or group to a branch in Austria receive a residence permit which entitles them to live here and take up work.

Intra-corporate transfers are not possible for companies acting as employment agencies or recruiting companies.

Temporary employment – seasonal workers

The Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection can issue a regulation setting contingents for the employment of seasonal workers and harvest helpers when the demand for such workers cannot be covered by the existing workforce.

Regulations of this kind are regularly enacted in the tourism, agriculture and forestry sectors.

Temporary employment – au pairs

Au pairs are foreign citizens (usually school pupils or students) between the ages of 18 and 28 who wish to improve their existing knowledge of German and get to know Austrian culture and society. Au pairs are taken in by a guest family and help them by looking after children and doing light work in the household.

Recognition of qualifications

For foreign citizens, recognition of their qualifications can play an important role when entering the Austrian labour market.

There are contact points which address persons resident in Austria whose qualifications were obtained abroad and who have questions on their recognition of their qualifications or on how to make use of their abilities here.

Contact points of this kind have been established in Vienna, Linz, Graz and Innsbruck to provide support in the recognition and assessment process. Advice is also provided once a week in Feldkirch, Sankt Pölten, Wiener Neustadt, Klagenfurt and Salzburg.

The tasks of the contact points

  • Providing free multilingual advice
  • Clarification on whether formal recognition is necessary or possible
  • If required, providing support throughout the entire recognition process
  • Obtaining certified translations of diplomas, reports and references and other documents
  • Passing on documents to an assessment office
  • Offering information on initial and further training opportunities

Evaluation of the contact points

L&R Sozialforschung OG has carried out an evaluation of the contact points on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Last update: 29 June 2020