Immigration from other EU Countries

A great achievement of the European Union is the freedom of movement for workers. Citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Swiss nationals and their families are free to immigrate to any country of the European Union or the EEA and find work there. Workers from these countries therefore have free access to the labour market in Austria and do not require any further authorisation to pursue employment here.

EU or EEA citizens (EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Swiss nationals benefit from the freedom of establishment and freedom of movement for workers . They thus have the option of taking up residence and building a life in Austria without further authorisation. To make use of this facility, one of the following three points must be fulfilled:

  • They are pursuing employment as an employee or as a self-employed person in Austria.
  • They can prove that they have sufficient resources and comprehensive health insurance for their family and themselves.
  • They are going to study in Austria and can prove that they have sufficient resources and comprehensive health insurance for their family and themselves.

They must simply register with the immigration office responsible within 3 months at the latest and obtain a certificate of registration under the requirements mentioned above .

There are also easier options for immigrating to Austria for members of the EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals.

Transitional regulations apply to citizens of newly acceded EU member states (see below). Since exemptions to the free movement of workers apply in this case, they additionally require authorisation in accordance with the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act. Key requisites for granting a work permit are:

  • Existence of a job offer
  • The prospective employer applies for a work permit at the responsible local office of the labour market service .
  • In the labour market test, the labour market service determines that no other suitable person is available in the Austrian labour market for the job in question.

Immigration from non-EU Countries

Since 1 July 2011, the immigration of skilled workers from around the world interested in relocating to Austria has been made possible by the “Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte” (Red-White-Red Card system). This criteria-led immigration system (points system) allows qualified workers from third countries (another system applies to people from EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and their family members to permanently immigrate to Austria.

Qualified individuals and professionals

For very highly qualified immigrants the following conditions apply:

  • They do not need to provide proof of a job offer prior to immigration.
  • When they reach the minimum number of points (at least 70 out of 100 points) they will receive a 6 month visa in order to find a job in Austria (job seeker visa).
  • If they find a job that matches their qualifications in these 6 months, they will then be issued the “Red-White-Red Card“ without further labour market tests.

In addition to the general criteria of professional experience, language skills and age, the points system for very highly qualified workers [pdf, 91.3kb] takes into account special qualifications and skills that are in high demand on the Austrian labour market.

The “job seeker visa” can be applied for at the relevant Austrian embassy or consulate.

If visa-free entry is possible, application for the “Red-White-Red Card“ during the visa-free stay can then be made directly in Austria.

Self-employed individuals

Austria’s economy is characterised by strong entrepreneurship with a high export ratio and innovative strength. Its location in the heart of Europe makes Austria a pivotal point between the industrialised countries of Western Europe and the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Emerging entrepreneurs from around the world can benefit from these competitive terms and the international nature of Austria’s location.

Via the “Red-White-Red Card“ for independent key workers from non-EU states, immigration and establishment of a company in Austria is possible. For this purpose, the immigrant must show that their intended self-employment in Austria represents an overall economic benefit.

This overall economic benefit, which is determined by the assessment of the labour market service is granted especially if

  • the employment is connected with a sustainable transfer of investment capital to Austria or
  • the intended employment will create new jobs or will ensure existing jobs or
  • the settlement of the key worker is connected with a transfer of know-how or the introduction of new technologies or
  • the company’s key strength has significant importance for the entire region.


Kindly visit our Austrian Embassy for detailed information.

Text supplied by Johannes Brunner | Austrian Trade Commission

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