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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. For further information in German and English visit 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) 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).

EU/EEA workers who wish to remain in Austria for more than three months require a certificate of registration with the authorities, 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 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 skills, age, a suitable job offer and appropriate payment.

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

  • Very Highly Qualified Workers
  • skilled workers in Shortage Occupations
  • Other Key Workers
  • Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
  • Self-Employed Key Workers
  • Start-up Founders

The Red-White-Red Card is issued for a period of 24 months and entitles the holder to fixed-term settlement and employment by the employer specified in the application or as self-employed workers.

Red-White-Red Card plus

The Red-White-Red Card plus entitles to fixed-term settlement and unlimited labour market access.

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.

Holders of a Red-White-Red Card can bring their family members with them. They receive a Red-White-Red Card plus and unrestricted labour market access in Austria.

Persons who have already been settled in Austria for five years can apply for a residence title "Permanent Residence EU". This entitles to unlimited settlement and unrestricted access to the labour market. Advanced German language skills (B1 level) are required for the residence title.

Labour market access for school pupils and students

Pupils and students with a corresponding residence permit may also be gainfully employed if this does not interfere with their education as their primary purpose of residence. Pupils and students with a nationality from a third country are subject to the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act and require an employment permit for employment in Austria. This also applies to marginal employment!

Temporary employment – posting by companies

Posting of workers is defined as the process whereby foreign employers without a place of business in Austria temporarily post workers in Austria to fulfil an assignment. Such work is usually carried out on the basis of a contractual obligation, in particular a contract for work/services.

Posted workers are entitled to at least the statuary payment plus special payments, overtime premiums, and other bonuses and allowances in Austria due to you according law, decree or collective agreement (wage and salary).

Further details are available on our posting platform.

Temporary employment – intra-corporate transfers (ICT)

Key workers who are tgoing to be temporarily employed in an Austrian branch of their company or group by their employer, may obtain a residence permit entitling them to residence and taking up employment in Austria.

For personnel leasing companies or placement agencies intra-corporate transfer is not applicable.

Temporary employment – seasonal workers

By way of regulation, the Federal Minister of Labour and Economy may set quotas for the employment of seasonal workers and harvest helpers if the demand for such workers cannot be covered by the available workforce.

Regulations of this kind are regularly issued for the sectors of tourism and agriculture/forestry.

Temporary employment – au pairs

Au pairs are foreign citizens (usually pupils or students) between 18 and 28 years of age who would like to improve their German language skills acquired abroad and get to know Austrian cultural and social life during their stay in Austria. The au pair is taken into the host family and helps with childcare and light household tasks.

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: 28 January 2022