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Austria: Visas, Residence & Work Permits

With its lush alpine meadows and picturesque towns, Austria has always attracted vast numbers of tourists and expats. Consistently topping quality of life ranking, our expat guide looks at the benefits of moving to Austria, popular expat destinations, and visa requirements.

Becoming an Austrian Resident

Moving to Austria is significantly easier for EU/EEA citizens. You don’t need a visa to enter the country, nor do you need a residence or work permit to live, seek, or take up employment. Since the beginning of 2014, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria also enjoy free labor market access. For Croatian nationals, certain restrictions regarding work permits are still in place.

However, all EU/EEA citizens intending to move to Austria for more than three months need to apply for permanent residency within four months of their arrival. This can be done at a competent residence authority like the state governor (Landeshauptmann), or an administrative district authority (Bezirksverwaltungsbehörde). In order to receive a registration certificate, you will have to prove that you are financially independent and able to support yourself.  

Moving from outside the EU

If you are not an EU/EEA citizen, you may need a visa to enter Austria. An overview of visa regulations for certain countries can be found in the Bürgerservice section on the website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry. Alternatively, you can contact the nearest Austrian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence (or the diplomatic missions of the Schengen state which represents Austria in your area). This is also the best way to access detailed information on the application cost and processing times, and the documents required to obtain a visa.

Some types of visas merely allow you to enter the country while others are tied to specific work or residence permits. Below, we present a few categories that may be relevant for expats.

The EU Blue Card

This type of residence and work permit allows highly qualified non-EU citizens to live and work in Austria for up to two years. It is tied to a confirmed job offer, and will only be granted if the AMS (the Austrian Labor Market Service) is satisfied that no Austrian or EU citizen is available to do the work specified.

Only applicants who have completed a university degree course of at least three years are eligible for a Blue Card. Their qualifications must match the job profile, and the salary specified in the work contract must be 1.5 times higher than the average yearly income of full-time employees in Austria. The figures are published regularly by Statistik Austria. You can expect the application process to last approximately eight weeks.

The Red-White-Red Card

Non-EU citizens who qualify as “key workers” can apply for a Red-White-Red Card, which allows them to work for a specified employer and live in Austria for a period of 12 months. In order to qualify as a key worker, you must be high qualified, a skilled worker in a shortage occupation, a self-employed key worker, or a graduate of an Austrian university.

The Red-White-Red Card works on a points-based system. Depending on which of the above categories you belong to, you must fulfill certain criteria before you can apply. Please consult the Austrian Migration Portal for more information and a points calculator to help you determine your eligibility.  

After ten months of working and living in Austria, Red-White-Red Card holders may apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus, which entitles them to free access to the Austrian labor market. Family members of Red-White-Red or of Blue Card holders are also eligible to apply for a Red-White-Red Card plus.

The Jobseeker Visa

This six-month permit is intended for highly qualified non-EU citizens who are interested in working in Austria but have not yet managed to secure a job offer and thus cannot apply for one of the above permits. Please note that the Jobseeker Visa merely allows you to look for work —you must still apply for a work permit if your job hunt has been successful.

Similar to the Red-White-Red Card, the Jobseeker Visa operates on a points basis. Applicants must meet the required criteria in order to apply for this visa. The issuing of a Jobseeker Visa is managed by the AMS. All application documents must be submitted together with a German or English translation.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.


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