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Visas & Work Permits in Austria

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

Austrian visa types are similar to the visa types found in many other countries and they include special allowances for workers with certain skills. Skilled workers in “shortage occupations” are appreciated in Austria and third-country nationals with these skills can gain extra points towards a Red-White-Red Card. Non-EU/EEA national require the relevant work permit visa or self-employment visa to live and work in Austria. Residence permits (temporary and permanent) are only necessary if you come from outside the EU and EEA. If you do, as a so-called “third-country national” you will require a residence permit for stays longer than six months.

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The Austrian visa application and process is relatively straightforward. If you plan to move there for more than six months, you must apply for an Austrian residence permit, not an entry permit or visa, before you leave your home country. Only EU citizens and spouses and children of EU & EFTA citizens are allowed to apply for the residence permit after arriving in Austria.

Austrian visa requirements demand that you give copies of certain documents, such as your passport and birth certificate, to get a residence permit. Your Austrian visa/permit will cost approximately 100 EUR in total.

One aspect of Austria’s immigration points system involves earning enough points to receive a Red-White-Red Card and then an optional Red-White-Red Card plus. For example, basic German language skills will earn you five points.

You usually need to live in Austria for at least six years before you can apply for permanent Austrian citizenship. Find out about Austrian citizenship, visa requirements, and more in our Visas & Work Permits in Austria section below.

Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

Work permit and employment visas in Austria come in several different forms and cater to professionals in a range of situations. Some of the main work permits non-EU citizens may need in Austria are the “restricted work permit” (valid for one year), the standard “work permit” (valid for two years), and the “unrestricted work permit” (valid for five years).

Austria Work Visa Requirements

Third-country nationals planning to work in Austria can apply for a Red-White-Red Card. The application fee, including the work permit visa application form, should not cost more than 150 EUR/166 USD (2019). The card has a duration of 24 months and allows you to live in Austria. During this time, you can only work for the employer specified in your application.

To be considered for the Red-White-Red Card, you should qualify for in one of the following categories:

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

If your skills are worth 70 points from Austria’s eligibility criteria, you can move to Austria on a six-month residence visa in order to find a job there. You will specifically be eligible for the Job Seeker Visa. The criteria is divided into special qualifications and skills, work experience, language skills, age, and studies in Austria.

Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations

To get a Red-White-Red Card as a Skilled Worker in a Shortage Occupation, you need 55 points, which can be gained through qualifications, work experience matching your qualifications, German language skills, English language skills, and if you are below 40 years of age.

Skilled workers in shortage occupations may file their application for a Red-White-Red Card plus after their arrival in Austria.

Start-Up Founders

To apply for a Red-White-Red Card as a third-country national, you must:

  • Have a company which will develop and launch innovative products, services, processing methods or technology in Austria.
  • Submit a business plan regarding you company.
  • Have controlling influence over the management of the new company.
  • Show evidence you have at least 50,000 EUR (55,300 USD) in funds for the new company and an equity share of at least 50%.
  • You must also score 50 points from the eligible criteria, which include qualifications, relevant work experience, and language skills. You can earn bonus points with evidence of additional investment of at least 50,000 EUR (55,300 USD). You can also earn points by being part of a business incubator or receiving money from an Austrian start-up funding agency. Being younger than 35 years of age will also get you points.
Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education

If you have completed your studies and any relevant training, you can renew your “Students” residence permit for twelve more months to help you find a job or start a business. You may do this as long as you fulfil certain requirements, such as having adequate means of subsistence.

Self-Employed Key Workers

You can get a Red-White-Red Card as a Self-Employed Key Worker if your self-employed role in Austria helps to create macroeconomic benefits above your initial operational benefit. The points system is not relevant here. To prove these benefits, one of the following must be true:

  • You will invest at least 100,000 EUR (110,715) in the Austrian economy.
  • Your activity creates or maintains jobs in Austria.
  • You will introduce knowhow and new technologies.
  • Your business activity is important for the entire region.
Other Key Workers

If you are moving to Austria because you have been offered a role at a company where you will be a key worker, you could be eligible for a Red-White-Red Card. However, if you are under 30 years old, you need to earn at least 2,610 EUR (2,890 USD) per month (gross) and if you are over 30, you must earn at least 3,132 EUR (3,470 USD) per month (gross).

Austrian Work Visa Application Costs

To submit the Austrian Red-White-Red Card (work permit visa) application form, it costs 120 EUR (132 USD). You will also be required to pay for the granting and personalization of the card. There are further costs if you are applying as a very highly-qualified worker. See all the relevant costs detailed below.

Very Highly Qualified Workers
  • Job Seeker Visa: 150 EUR (166 USD)
  • Red-White-Red Card:
    • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
    • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
    • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)
Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations
  • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
  • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
  • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)
Start-Up Founders
  • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
  • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
  • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)
Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
  • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
  • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
  • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)
Self-Employed Key Workers
  • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
  • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
  • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)
Other Key Workers
  • Application: 120 EUR (132 USD)
  • Granting: 20 EUR (22 USD)
  • Personalization: 20 EUR (22 USD)

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is an alternative to the Red-White-Red Card. It is 120 EUR (133 USD) to apply, 20 EUR (22 USD) when it is granted, and 20 EUR (22 USD) to personalize. This includes your fingerprints, a scan of your photos, and signature. It allows you

  • equal work rights to Austrian citizens;
  • free movement inside the EU;
  • social rights, e.g. unemployment benefits;
  • better conditions for family reunification;
  • permanent residency rights.

Business Visa

If you plan to visit Austria to perform business activities for less than six months, you can apply for a visa for business purposes.

If your country has an agreement with Austria, as is the case with the United States, and you just want to visit for up to 90 days, you will not need a visa to do this.

Otherwise, if your country does not have a special agreement with Austria, you can apply for a visa for 90 days (called a C-type visa) or for between 91 and 180 days (called a D-type visa). These visas cannot be renewed or extended in Austria.

If you are from one of these countries, you will not need a visa to enter Austria or the Schengen Area. 

Family Visas

Family members who qualify as “family” include:

  • spouses
  • registered partners
  • underage, unmarried children
Red-White-Red Card Plus

Austria’s Red-White-Red Card helps qualified workers from third countries bring their families to Austria to live with them. Qualified workers in Austria who have a Red-White-Red Card or EU Blue Card can bring their family members on a “Red-White-Red Card plus.”

Spouses and children of EU and EFTA citizens may enter Austria under the Visa Waiver Program. They can file their application for a Red-White-Red Card Plus after their arrival in Austria.

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Self-Employment Visas

If you want to get a self-employment visa to start working for yourself in Austria, your task will be made simpler if you can meet the requirements to be a “Self-Employed Key Worker” or a “Start-Up Founder.” If you do not qualify in one of these categories, your best option may be to find a job in Austria and build your own business in your spare time. Ultimately, the easiest way to start working as a self-employed person in Austria is to get one of the various Red-White-Red Card visas.

Moreover, if you can qualify as a “Very Highly Qualified Worker,” you can get a Jobseeker Visa which allows you to live in Austria for six months before you find a job – these six months can be enough for you to earn points to qualify as a Start-Up Founder or a Self-Employed Key Worker.

Austria Self-Employment Visas: Requirements, Application Form, Process, and Costs

To get a work permit to be self-employed in Austria, it will cost at most 150 EUR/166 USD. You can get a Red-White-Red Card that allows you to live and work in Austria for 24 months, if you fit into certain self-employment categories, such as:

  • Start-Up Founders
  • Self-Employed Key Workers

You could alternatively apply as a Very Highly Qualified Worker, which would allow you to live in Austria for six months while you start your business.

The following are the processes, required documents, and application forms for Self-employed Key Workers, Start-Up Founders, and Very Highly Qualified Workers.

Self-Employed Key Worker

To qualify for a Self-Employed Key Worker visa, you must submit the following documents:

  • valid travel document (passport)
  • birth certificate or equivalent document acknowledged by the Austrian government
  • photograph (45x35mm) taken within the last six months
  • proof you have accommodation in Austria, e.g. lease contracts, preliminary agreement on tenancy rights, or ownership evidence
  • proof you have health insurance that will cover you in Austria against all risks
  • evidence of means of supporting yourself, e.g. payslips, pay certificates, employment contracts, insurance benefit certificates, retirement or other pension or insurance benefits, investment capital, or other significant assets

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Austrian authorities have the right to demand additional documents on a case-by-case basis. Do not be surprised or offended if you are asked for your criminal record. In fact, submitting this document, or an equivalent denoting your good standing, could make the process go smoother.

If you believe your business activity will bring macroeconomic benefits going beyond your company’s operational gains, you should also submit

  • documents demonstrating an analysis of the market and competition, its headquarters’ location, and a detailed business plan;
  • proof of the transfer of capital to Austria and the intention to create new jobs or protect existing jobs in Austria;
  • proof you have the qualifications necessary for the business activity proposed;
  • in some cases, company agreements and/or craft authorizations (Gewerbeberechtigungen)

Please note that you will need to submit originals and copies of all documents and certificates. These should be in either German or English. You can find the application form here.

Start-Up Founder

To qualify as a start-up founder, you must submit the following:

  • passport
  • birth certificate (or equivalent document acknowledged by the Austrian government)
  • photograph (45x35mm) taken within the last six months
  • proof you have accommodation in Austria
  • proof you have health insurance which covers you in Austria against all risks
  • evidence of means of supporting yourself
  • proof of completed vocational education or training, i.e. a relevant certificate or diploma
  • testimonial or training report and work certificate to evidence extraordinary know-how or skills
  • document to show completion of a higher education programme with a minimum duration of three years at an institution of tertiary education
  • document which proves the status of the university or tertiary education institution
  • proof of a completed diploma programme or Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s degree programme or vocational education or training in Austria
  • proof of work experience, e.g. a testimonial or a work certificate
  • evidence of language skills in German or English
  • proof of investment capital
  • contract to show admission to a business incubator or funding by a start-up funding agency in Austria
  • business plan and documents to prove the innovative character of your business idea
  • proof of your controlling influence on the management of the new company
  • proof you have the qualifications necessary for the business activity proposed
  • in some cases, craft authorizations (Gewerbeberechtigungen)

Again, do not be surprised if you are asked for additional documents that are not listed here. The Austrian government determines what they need from each individual applicant. You can find the Start-Up Founder application here.

Very Highly Qualified Workers

With a Very Highly Qualified Worker Visa, you are allowed to live in Austria for six months and even apply for a Jobseeker Visa. This time could allow you to set up your business or even consider employment opportunities in Austria.

To be considered a very highly qualified worker, you will submit many of the same documents that are required for some of the above visas.

  • passport
  • birth certificate or equivalent document acknowledged by the Austrian government
  • photograph (45x35mm) taken within the last six months
  • proof you have accommodation in Austria
  • proof you have health insurance which covers you in Austria against all risks
  • evidence that you can financially support yourself

Also, to assess your skills according to the eligibility criteria points system, you will need to submit proof regarding:

  • your university/higher education graduation
  • gross annual salary in a senior management position
  • research and innovation activities
  • personal awards and prizes
  • testimonials and work certificates
  • language skills
  • studies in Austria

Submit this application form for the Red-White-Red Card.

Submit this application form for the Jobseeker Visa.

Which Graduates Gain Points for a Red-White-Red Card?

To qualify as a highly qualified worker, you need to show that you have a strong academic background. Usually, you need to achieve 70 points from the eligibility criteria, however, if you come from one of the following professions, you only need 65 points:

  • graduates in power engineering
  • graduate mechanical engineers
  • graduate engineers for data processing
  • graduates in weak-current and telecommunications engineering
  • graduate engineers (special professions)
  • graduates in business administration
  • economic trustees
  • physicians

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Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

In this section you will learn how to become an Austrian permanent resident. However, it is important to keep in mind that the decision on whether you are granted citizenship in the Alpine country is ultimately down to the discretion of the federal government.

How to get Permanent Residency in Austria

To gain citizenship via naturalization in Austria, you generally need to have lived in the country for ten years. However, five years with a residence permit can be enough. In the following situations, you may be able to gain citizenship before ten years:

  • you are a recognized refugee and have lived in Austria for at least six years;
  • you are a citizen of another EEA state and have lived in Austria for six years;
  • you were born in Austria;
  • you are a former citizen of Austria;
  • you have German language skills at level B2 or higher and can show proof of substantial personal integration after six years of living in Austria.

Austria Permanent Resident Visa Requirements

To be granted citizenship in Austria, you will have prove that you meet the following requirements:

  • integrity (e.g. no pending criminal action or administrative offences with a special degree of unlawfulness)
  • sufficiently secured earnings/income, i.e. proof of regular earnings so you can support yourself. Childcare support and family benefits are considered income. This proof is not required if you cannot work because of a disability or illness etc.
  • knowledge of Germany’s democratic system, and Austria’s and its provinces’ history
  • proof of your German language skills (exceptions include those under 14 years old and those with bad mental or physical health, especially if they are speech or hearing impaired)
  • positive attitude about Austria
  • guarantee you pose no danger to the public peace, order, or security
  • no close relationship to extremist or terrorist groups
  • your receipt of citizenship will not affect Austria’s international relations or national interests

Austria Permanent Resident (Citizenship) Application: How to Apply

You should fill in the formVerleihung bzw. Erstreckung der Verleihung der österreichischen Staatsbügerschaft” or apply without a form, and send your application to your nearest office of the provincial government. Accompanying documents must be in their original form along with copies translated into German by an Austrian certified translator.

Permanent Resident Fees Austria

Naturalization:

  • Single people: 900 EUR (1,005 USD) federal fee, plus 150 EUR (170 USD) provincial administrative fee
  • Married couples: 1,600 EUR (1,790 USD) federal fee plus 226 EUR (252 USD) provincial administrative fee

Legal claim (e.g. six years of legal and uninterrupted residence and proof of sustainable personal integration):

  • Single persons: 700 EUR (780 USD) federal fee plus 76 EUR (85 USD) provincial administrative fee
  • Married couples: 1,400 EUR (1,560 USD) federal fee plus 152 EUR (170 USD) provincial administrative fee

Extension of citizenship to children:

  • It costs 200 EUR (223 USD) in federal fees and 76 EUR (85 USD) in provincial administrative fees per child

Permanent Resident Benefits Austria

Once you earn your Austrian citizenship you can enjoy a number of significant benefits, including:

  • The freedom to live and work in Austria as long as you want and to live and work in any other state in the European Union.
  • Full citizenship for you and your family members for life, which can be passed on to future generations.
  • Visa-free or visa at arrival access to 185 locations worldwide, including the US.

Austria Fiancé Visa Process

Married partners, civil partners, and minor children of Austrian citizens can apply for a residence permit as a family member, known as a “Aufenthaltstitel Familienangehöriger.” With this permit, you are also free to work in Austria.

Requirements
  • Spouses or civil partners of citizens must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Children applying must be under 18 years of age and unmarried.
  • First-time applicants must show an ability to use A1-level German.
Exceptions:
  • Children up to 14 years of age.
  • Persons who cannot reasonably be expected to provide such evidence on grounds of a physical or mental health condition (medical report required).

Family Visa

If you are the spouse of an Austrian citizen, and you are applying to get an Austrian, you must provide the following additional documents:

  • proof of Austrian citizenship (ID card or consular card or certification of Austrian nationality or naturalization order)
  • Austrian marriage certificate
  • Austrian family record book

Temporary Residence Permits

To submit a successful application for a temporary resident permit, or “stay permit,” you must have a specific purpose to come to Austria. Accepted specific purposes are:

  • ICT (intra-corporate transferee)
  • Mobile ICT
  • seconded employee
  • self-employed persons
  • researcher-mobility
  • special cases of dependent gainful occupation
  • students
  • pupils
  • Social Service Employee
  • volunteers
  • Family Reunification
Temporary Resident Permit Requirements and Fees

To successfully apply for a temporary resident permit in Austria, the applicant must have their own stream of income which covers their living costs without needing assistance from welfare or local authorities. Their income must be equal to the standard rates of the General Social Insurance Act (ASVG), as seen below:

  • For singles: 933 EUR (1,034 USD)
  • For couples: 1,399 EUR (1,550 USD)
  • For each child additionally 144 EUR (159 USD)

The applicant must also have health insurance which covers them in Austria and adequate accommodation according to local standards.

Temporary Resident Permit: How to Apply

To apply for your temporary stay, please have all of the relevant documents translated into German. If you are a minor or are helping a minor apply, their application must be signed by both of their parents or legal guardians.

To apply, you must take your application form to your Austrian embassy. Please note that processing times will vary as your application will be sent to Austria for consideration.

The following documents should be included in the application:

  • passport
  • birth certificate
  • one recent passport photo (35 x 45 mm to 40 x 50 mm)
  • if applicable, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, death certificate, certificate giving evidence of relationship to another individual
  • proof of accommodation in Austria
  • proof of health insurance (or travel or accident insurance)
  • proof of financial means (e.g. bank statements of last two months)

The following documents must also be submitted for those qualifying for specific categories:

  • Employee: work permit, statement of salary or income, letter from employer.
  • Self-employed: most recent income tax statement, contract letter, business plan.
  • Students: original letter of admission to Austrian school or university, written confirmation that tuition has been paid and accommodation has been requested.
  • Au-pair: au pair contract and letter of certification (issued by the Austrian Employment Service AMS).
  • Family members: letter of guarantee (Haftungserklärung).

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Updated on: November 20, 2019
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