Whether or not you are allowed to work in Austria depends on your nationality, the kind of work you would undertake and – for nationals of third parties –also on the kind of residence permit.
Nationals of Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, Cyprus, United Kingdom or Switzerland are allowed to work in Austria without any further permit (e.g. work permit) being required.
Croatian nationals still need a work permit for gainful employment due to transitional arrangements that run until 2020. If you carry out a job that is not subject to the regulations of the Austrian Act Governing the Employment of Foreign Nationals, you do not need a work permit. Activities which are not subject to the regulations of the Austrian Act Governing the Employment of Foreign Nationals are: activities in the framework of exchange or research programmes of the European Union or activities in academic teaching and research.
Work permits under the Aliens Employment Act of 1975
An Austrian employer may recruit a foreign national for employment within Austria, but to do so he/she must apply for approval and an employment permit from the regional employment office (AMS – Arbeitsmarktservice).
This employment permit allows the potential foreign employee to work in the specifically designated position for the applying employer for a period no longer than one year. The employment office will deliberate on whether or not to issue the employment based on three criteria:
- The first criteria will involve an analysis of the current labour market and whether the state of the market will benefit from employing a foreigner.
- Second, the office will determine whether issues of public policy sway against issuing the employment permit to the foreigner, taking into account the specific circumstances of the employment contract.
- Finally, the employment office will evaluate the employer and determine whether the employer is compliant with applicable working conditions, minimum wage requirements, and the social security act.
However, the work permit is only given for foreigners who already own a residence permit.
Red-White-Red Card System
Austria has recently added a specific avenue to its immigration system to create an easier route into its industry for high-qualified foreign employees. Austria implemented this system, called the Red-White-Red (RWR) Card on July 1, 2011. This system created two different options to gain access to the Austrian labour market, the RWR Card and the RWR Card Plus. The former entitles a foreigner to residence and employment with a specific employer for 12 months. The latter entitles a foreigner to residence and unlimited labour market access.
The RWR Card is available to highly qualified workers, skilled labourers in fields that the Chamber of Commerce has deemed to be in high demand, and graduates of Austrian universities and colleges. The system creates a point-based equation that allocates points to applicants based on job qualifications, education, work experience, language skills, age, and offer of employment in the field of qualification. If a foreign worker applying for the RWR card meets the minimum threshold of points based on the previously listed criteria, then they will be considered a “highly qualified worker” in the eyes of the Austrian immigration system. In order for a “highly qualified worker” to obtain a RWR Card, they must first have an offer of employment. If they have an offer before coming to Austria, they may apply for the RWR Card at a foreign embassy or consulate. Alternatively, they may apply for a six-month visa, and then within that six months, obtain a legitimate offer of employment. After obtaining an offer of employment, the highly-qualified employee may then apply for a RWR Card on Austrian soil, which would allow him to remain within Austria for twelve months and work for the specific employer.
The RWR Card is available to skilled workers in shortage professions on nearly the same basis as highly qualified workers. They must also have an offer of employment, and meet the minimum requirements of the applicable point schedule. The list of shortage professions is released every year by the Federal Minister of Labour after consultation with the Federal Minister of Economics, and in recent years has primarily included engineering professions. In the same fashion as highly qualified employees, skilled workers in shortage professions may apply for a RWR Card plus after working in Austria under the basic RWR card for at least ten months during the previous 12 month period.
If any of these workers successfully obtain a RWR Card, they are entitled to bring their spouses, registered partners, and unmarried minor children (under eighteen years of age) along with them into Austria. Interestingly, the family members of highly skilled workers, or other workers who apply for the RWR Card are entitled to a RWR Card plus if the primary applicant is granted a RWR Card. Therefore, family members of the initial applicant will have unlimited labour market access in Austria.
European Union Blue Card
Third-country nationals may be granted an EU Blue Card, if they
- have completed a course of study at a university or other tertiary educational institution with a minimum duration of three years,
- have received a binding job offer for at least one year in Austria and the employment corresponds to the applicant’s education,
- will earn a gross annual income of at least one and a half times the average gross annual income of full-time employees (in 2016: at least € 58,434 which is about € 4,174 gross monthly income plus special payments),
- and the labour market test (Arbeitsmarktprüfung) shows that there is no equally qualified worker registered as a jobseeker with the Public Employment Service (AMS) available for the job.
A points system is not used for the EU Blue Card. Applications for an EU Blue Card may either be filed by the applicant in person with the competent Austrian representation (embassy or consulate) in the applicant’s home state or country of residence or, on the other hand, by the potential employer with the competent residence authority in Austria local Provincial Governor’s Office or the duly authorised district administration bodies. An employer’s declaration has to be submitted along with the application. Persons who are entitled to enter Austria without a visa or already have a valid residence title may also file the application themselves with the abovementioned competent residence authority in Austria.