Austria is part of the European Union (EU), one of the world’s largest trading blocs. Many companies are looking to Austria as a strong launching platform to expand into the rest of the European Union. Austria is located in the heartland of Europe, bordered by Italy and Slovenia to the south, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Germany and Czech Republic to the north and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to its western borders. It has a stable economic and political system, a low crime rate, and is considered safe and clean with first-class healthcare; one of the best countries in Europe to live in.

European Union and Swiss citizens do not require a visa to enter, stay and work in the Schengen area, which includes Austria, for three months, after which they have to register their stay. Conditions apply, but to stay longer, they do not require a work visa or permit. Countries that are visa-exempt to enter Austria short term, i.e., 90 days for tourism, business purposes, medical treatment or to transit, can apply for the ETIAS visa waiver from 2023. All other travellers have to apply for a Schengen visa. A National D Visa must be used for longer than three months. However, Third Country Nationals (TCNs) require work documentation and a residence permit to live and work in Austria.

Companies setting up businesses abroad tend to choose a Professional Employment Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) company to help them through all aspects of compliance regarding recruitment, payroll and work and immigration documentation. Bradford Jacobs has both PEO specialists and EOR platforms and uses its expertise of more than 20 years to achieve in a short time what most companies take months to do. Research and know-how, alongside experience, are the roads to success.

The different types of Visas and Work Permits for Austria

Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the European Union plus Swiss citizens, do not require a visa or work documentation to enter, live and find employment in Austria for up to three months. However, conditions apply. If they intend to stay longer, they must register their stay and receive a registration certificate. Countries that are visa-exempt to enter Austria short term, i.e., 90 days for tourism, business purposes, medical treatment or to transit, can apply for the ETIAS visa waiver from 2023.

All other travellers apply for the Schengen Visa for up to 90 days or the D Visa for six months.

National Visas

  • C Visa for gainful employment up to 90 days
  • D Visa. For a particular reason, e.g., work, study, research, sportsman or artist, medical condition. Usually, for six months

Third Country Nationals (TCNs) wanting to be in Austria for longer than six months require either:

  • Work Visa/ Work Permit (including a residence permit)
  • Or Residence Permit for those staying longer than six months
  • Or Study Visa

Types of Visa/Work and Residence Permits

One is required to enter, live and work in Austria and is applied for at a local embassy or consulate.

  • Red-White-Red Card. Six categories. This type of visa is for highly qualified employees, those with a skills shortage occupation, key workers, skilled self-employed workers and founders of Start-ups. They are issued to Third Country Nationals (TCNs). The popular choice for obtaining a work permit/residence permit, and because Austria prefers highly-skilled employees, this visa is subject to a points system. Applicants must fulfil specific requirements, provide relevant documents and pay the fees to enter the country. Valid for up to two years, attached to a particular company, for the applied job.
  • EU Blue Card. For highly skilled or qualified TCNs who are assessed on qualifications and work experience. They require a job offer to be able to apply for this work permit/residence permit which is then linked to the job and the company issuing the offer. First, it must be established that no EU or Austrian citizen can fill the position to receive an EU Blue Card. No points are required.
  • Jobseeker Visa. This visa (not a work permit) is issued to TCNs who want to work in Austria and are highly qualified but have no job offer. This visa allows them to enter Austria legally to look for employment over six months, and once they have a job, they need to apply for a work permit, e.g., a Red-White-Red Card. The Jobseeker Visa is also awarded through the points system.
  • EU Intra-company Transfer (EU ICT). Suppose employees are going to work for the Austrian branch of the home country company for more than six months. In that case, Austria issues a special residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) for managers, executives and trainees.

How to apply for Visas and Work Permits for Austria?

The work documentation available to people wanting to live and work in Austria are:

  • Red-White-Red (RWR) Card – a combined work and residence permit (points required to qualify)
  • EU Blue Card – a combined work and residence permit which depends on qualifications, skills and work experience
  • ICT Transfer – special residence permit for seconded employees, up to three years (1 year for a trainee)
  • The Jobseeker Visa allows prospective employees and the self-employed or those looking to set up a Start-Up company to look for work (6 months). Successful candidates then apply for the relevant work/residence permit, e.g., RWR Card or EU Blue Card

Red-White-Red (RWR) and EU Blue Card process:

  • Have a confirmed job offer and be included on the Austrian payroll
  • Gather relevant documents
  • Apply to a local consulate or embassy abroad
  • After arriving, employees must register their address with their local city hall
  • Collect the RWR Card or EU Blue Card at the local immigration department

The typical documents required at some stage of the application process are:

  • Application form for the RWR Card or EU Blue Card
  • Passport valid for six months after applicants intend to leave Austria
  • Recent biometric photographs along with passport guidelines
  • Legalized birth certificate (and for dependents if applicable)
  • Legalized marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Accommodation address, e.g., lease, rental or hotel accommodation. When the employee arrives in Austria, the address must be registered at the local town hall.
  • Declaration regarding the confirmed job offer giving salary details, terms of employment etc.
  • Qualifications and proof of experience for the position
  • Health insurance is needed at the time of the application to cover costs up to €30,000 (US$30,103). However, once receiving the RWR or EU Card, the employee is covered by public statutory insurance
  • Clean police report or certificate valid for three months from the date of application
  • Proof of funds to cover costs while in Austria

Regarding the RWR Card, any extra documentation about the points system qualification (if it applies), e.g., degree or diploma, language skills, work experience, special abilities, vocational training etc.

Intra-company Transfer (ICT) process and documents:

As with the RWR and EU Cards, the application is made at an Austrian embassy or consulate in the home country or country of residence. After arriving, the employee’s address has to be registered with the town hall in that area. Then the ICT permit can be collected at the immigration department in the place of residence.

The documents are the same as the RWR and EU Cards above, PLUS

  • Confirmation of employment contract with a company abroad
  • Proof of the assignment to be undertaken and signed by the Austrian company

Jobseeker Visa:

This residence permit is designed to enable highly qualified and skilled Third Country Nationals (TCNs), such as top-level managers, scientists, specialists or experts, to spend six months in Austria looking for employment or business/investment opportunities. Successful people can apply for the Red-White-Red Card and a combined work and residence permit. General Documents are the same as RWR and EU cards, including points system qualification score (70 points).


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