Work Permits for Austria

work permits for austriaExpats 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.

Work permits for skilled workers - 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. To be eligible for an EU Blue Card expats must have a confirmed job offer in Austria. Furthermore, this type of work permit will only be granted if the AMS (Austrian Labour Market Service) is satisfied that the company could not find a suitable Austrian or EU citizen to do the job specified within the contract.

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.

The processing time for an EU Blue Card in Austria is usually around eight weeks.

Work permits for key workers - Red-White-Red Card

This type of work permit is granted to foreigners who qualify as ‘key workers’ in Austria and allows the holder to live and work in the country for one year. In order to qualify for key worker status, expats must be highly qualified and skilled in a shortage occupation, a self-employed key worker or a graduate in certain fields from an Austrian university.

The Red-White-Red Card is granted according to one’s score on the points-based immigration system. Depending on which field of work an expat specialises in, they will be required to fulfil certain criteria to apply.

After ten months expats who hold a Red-White-Red Card can apply for an extension on the permit, which then entitles them to free access to the Austrian labour marker.
Card holders are also eligible to apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus.This is granted to 'key workers' after 1 year.

Jobseeker 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.

It is important to note that the Jobseeker visa allows a person to visit Austria for the purpose of finding and securing a job, it does not allow them to work. Once expats have secured a suitable position, they must still apply for a relevant work permit.

As in the case of the Red-White-Red Card, the Jobseeker visa utilises a points-based system. Applicants must satisfy certain criteria to be eligible for this visa.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Types of immigration

In this section you will find information on immigration to and residence/settlement in Austria. The target groups are diverse: EU- and EEA- citizens, third-country nationals as well as their family members.

  • The chapter on mobility within the EU addresses EU- and EEA-citizens including their families and provides information on possibilities for obtaining a residence permit in Austria.
  • In the chapter on permanent immigration you can learn all about the Red-White-Red Card. According to the regulations of this flexible new immigration scheme, individuals planning to live and work in Austria can apply for a Red-White-Red Card if they meet certain criteria. These criteria are translated into a points system.
    A points calculator helps you determine whether you meet the required criteria.
  • In the chapter on temporary residence you will find information on residence permits for posted workers and hired out workers, for the self-employed, for artists, pupils, students, social service workers and researchers.
  • The chapter on fixed-term employment addresses individuals who are planning to work in Austria for a fixed period of time, as well as undertakings hiring out or posting workers to Austria.

Immigration to Austria

This guide is aimed at employers. We apologise for lack of any Austrian guides optimised for employees, agents, or investors – if you fall into one of these categories, please feel free to contact us for advice (although you may find that this guide answers many of your questions).

Employers with inquiries for our services may contact us at our Riga, Latvia office for assistance.


Recent political developments in Austria have many companies wary of bringing non-EEA nationals into Austria. However, for all the political hot air, there hasn't been any actual change in immigration law or procedure. Properly formatted and documented applications will still be approved irrespective of the nationality of the candidate.

How long will it take to get an employee on site with an Austrian work permit?

The supporting documentation needed is quite extensive and can take some time to collect, it must be submitted in German, so translations should be taken into both time and financial budgets. Once the application has been lodged, processing usually takes about 7 weeks.

When the work permit is approved the candidate must apply for a residence visa to travel to Austria and start work.

Can my company obtain Austrian work permits?

There are two possible ways for the candidate to be employed with a work permit:

  1. As the direct employee of an Austrian company, this is a Sicherungsbescheinigung (Secured work certificate) application.
  2. As the employee of a foreign company that is providing services to an Austrian company. This foreign company may not be a recruitment agency and must produce a service contract as part of the application. In this scenario, an Austrian accountant must administer the payrolling of the candidate to ensure that all tax and social security is duly paid. This is an Entsendebewilligung (Assignment permit) application.

Does the candidate qualify for an Austrian work permit?

The candidate must be shown to have sufficient experience to fill the position.

If the application is for an assignment permit then the candidate should have at least 6-12 months experience with the service provider, to justify the claim that they have experience with the company's systems.

How do I apply for an Austrian work permit?

Once the application is assembled – which can take some time – The application can be lodged at the local AMS (Arbeitsmarktservice), where it will be processed.

Once the work permit application is approved, the candidate will need to make a residence visa application in their usual country of residence. The candidate will probably need to present a police clearance certificate and an original birth certificate to be granted this visa, so it is worthwhile assembling these documents in advance.

Austrian work permit FAQs

What is the difference between a work permit and a visa?

A work permit is permission for a company to employ a foreign worker given by the labour authorities. It does not allow the candidate to travel to or reside in Austria. Once the work permit has been approved the candidate should apply for a residence visa (type D), a scengen (type C) visa is not sufficient to take up employment with a work permit.

What is the difference between "body shopping" and providing a service?

It is not possible to obtain a work permit for a candidate who is being body shopped, but it is possible for a candidate under a contract to provide services. The key differences are:

  • The sponsor may not be a recruitment agency.
  • The staff remain on the payroll and line management of the service provider.
  • The services are above and beyond that of just a contractor – e.g. consultants assisting in the installation of a propriety product sold to a client.
  • The services provided must be shown to be in the normal run of operations for the service provider.

What elements should be included in a service contract to ensure that it is suitable for a work permit application?

A provision of service contract should include the following elements:

  • The day to day line management of the consultants remains with the service provider
  • It should include warranted deliverables.
  • It should cover the entire period for which the permit is required.

It should be signed by both parties, and on the client headed paper.