Website of the Austrian Social Ministry

Work and migration

The permit system for workers from third countries (not EU Member States) was renewed in 2011 - instead of quotas, specific criteria now apply. In 2011 the seven-year transition period for the new EU Member States which joined the Union in 2004 also ended, thus giving their workers free access to the EU labour market.

Since then, many skilled workers from these countries have made use of their right of free movement (choice of one's place of residence) and taken up employment in Austria.

In 2015 around 615,683 foreign workers were employed in Austria. This is equivalent to 16.8% of all workers employed in Austria. More than half of the workers with foreign citizenship were from other EU Member States.

Criteria-led immigration system: Red-White-Red Card

With the Red-White-Red Card, qualified workers from third countries and their families can settle permanently in Austria and work here. Permits are awarded according to a points system.

The most important criteria for the award of a Red-White-Red Card are:

  • Qualifications and skills
  • Professional experience
  • Language skills
  • Age
  • A suitable job offer 
  • Corresponding payment.

The following groups of persons can receive a Red-White-Red Card: particularly highly qualified persons, skilled workers in professions where there is a shortage, other key workers and graduates.

The Red-White-Red Card is initially issued for twelve months und entitles the holder to settle and to work for a specific employer.

More detailed information and application forms are available from the Austrian Migration Platform.

Red-White-Red Card plus and permanent residence in the EU

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

Persons who have been employed with the Red-White-Red Card for ten months out of the last twelve can apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus.

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

Those who have already been living in Austria for five years can apply for permanent residence in the EU. This entitles the holder to unlimited settlement in the EU with unlimited access to the labour market. An advanced knowledge of German (B1 level) is required for permanent residence.

More detailed information on permanent residence in the EU can be obtained from the Austrian Migration Platform.

Recognition of qualifications

For foreign workers, the recognition of qualifications can play an important role in entering the Austrian labour market. 

In order to support the recognition and assessment process, offices have been set up in Vienna, Linz, Graz and Innsbruck. In addition, weekly advice days take place in Feldkirch, St. Pölten, Wiener Neustadt, Klagenfurt und Salzburg.

The offices offer free advice on recognition in several languages to persons resident in Austria.