Post Study Work Options: How to Get an Austria Work Visa After Your Studies

Post Study Work Options: How to Get an Austria Work Visa After Your Studies

Austria is located at the heart of Europe, bordering Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. The important key cities are only a few hours by car away from the country’s capital, Vienna. 

With plenty of breath-taking natural, architectural and cultural beauties, Austria is home to Europe’s hidden gems. Austria is one of the cleanest places in the world. No matter where you go, you’ll hardly see any litter on the ground whilst strolling through cities or other natural areas and villages nested in the mountains.

German is the main language used in Austria and this is the medium for most of the country’s degree programmes. However, as international study in Austria becomes more popular, universities are offering more programmes in English. When entering the labour market it is beneficial if you are proficient with the local language. 

Austria’s nine million-strong population enjoys a high standard of living due to its low unemployment rates and thriving economy.  The country’s healthcare system, housing and environmental quality are all of high standard. These are just a few reasons why international students want to settle in the country after completing their studies.

As an EU/EEA or Swiss student, you do not need a work permit or visa to enter the country and look for employment which means that relocating to Austria could be easier than you think. Graduates from the EU/EEA and Switzerland enjoy free movement of labor since the 1st of May 2011 and may take up any employment in Austria without a permit provided your resident permit remains valid.

Students from non-EU/EEA or Switzerland have to switch to a new residence permit before the current permit expires but at the earliest three months before that expiration.

Austria has four types of immigration system for foreign nationals.

  • Mobility within the EU – Addresses EU- and EEA-citizens including their families and provides information on possibilities for obtaining a residence permit in Austria.
  • Permanent Immigration – For 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.
  • Temporary Residence – For those employed in other EU member state and needs to work in Austria, self-employed, researcher-mobility, pupils, students, social service workers and volunteers.
  • Fixed-term employment – For 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.

This article will tackle more on the post study work options for non-EU/EEA or Swiss students who want to stay back in Austria after finishing their studies. If you are interested to know the post study work options of other EU member states, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States, check out our previous articles and YouTube videos on our channel.

Before we lay out the options for you, you must fulfill the following conditions to apply for a residence permit.

General Requirements for Issuing Residence Permits

To qualify for a residence permit, you must meet the following requirements.

  1. Adequate Financial Means

You must have a fixed and regular personal income enabling you to cover your living costs without resorting to welfare aid from local authorities. At the time of application, the regular monthly income must be equal to the equalisation supplement reference rate (Ausgleichszulagenrichtsatz) of the General Social Insurance Act (Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz – ASVG).

Equalisation supplement reference rate since 1st of January 2020:

  • Single: € 966.65
  • Couples: € 1,524.99
  • Each child additionally € 149.15

Proof of social benefits which you are entitled to only after your residence permit has been granted (welfare benefits or equalisation supplements in particular) is not factored in.

  1. Health Insurance Coverage

For your stay in Austria, you must have health insurance coverage which provides benefits in Austria and covers all risks

  1. Adequate Accommodation

You must provide evidence of a legal title to locally customary accommodation (e.g. by providing a lease contract), considered adequate for your family size.

  1. No threat to public order or security

Your stay must not be contrary to public order or public security or substantially affect Austria’s relations with other countries.

The Austrian government has laid out several paths for non-EU/EEA or Swiss international graduates. The point-based immigration system is not applicable to foreign students who completed their studies in the country. 

Residence Permit to search for employment or start a business

Third-country nationals who successfully graduated and completed their training in Austria and have not secured a job contract may renew “Students” residence permit for a period of twelve (12) months for the purpose of searching for employment, or starting a business provided that you fulfil the general requirements under Austrian settlement and residence law.

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Red-White-Red Card for graduates

If you have a job contract or if you have landed a job within the 12 months of searching, you can easily apply for RWR (Red-White-Red) Card. Your job should match your level of qualification, you can apply for a Red-White-Red Card without a labor market test, provided that you also fulfil the following requirements:

  • you get paid the locally customary gross minimum salary which comparable Austrian graduates (junior employees) would receive. For 2020, a minimum of € 2,416.50 per month, plus special payments (holiday and Christmas pay)
  • meets the general requirements for residence permit

This permit allows you to settle temporarily for 24 months in Austria and to work for the employer specified in your application.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Valid travel document 
  • Birth certificate or equivalent document, if you do not have one
  • Photograph not older than half a year 
  • Proof of health insurance cover covering all risks
  • Proof of secured livelihood (in particular pay slips, wage confirmations, service contracts, confirmations of pension, annuity or other insurance benefits, proof of sufficient investment capital or own assets) including proof of accommodation costs.
  • If applicants refer to benefits or the performance of obligated third parties, proof of this must be submitted in each case.
  • Proof of successful completion of studies or corresponding training

The list is not exhaustive, and the authorities may request for more documents. 

Red-White-Red Card for startup founders

If you want to put up your own business, you must meet the following conditions

  • Establish a company in order to develop and launch on the market innovative products, services, processing methods or technologies 
  • Submit a consistent business plan for establishing and running that company
  • Personally exert controlling influence on the management of the newly set-up company
  • Prove capital for the company to be founded amounting to € 50.000 minimum with an equity share of at least 50 %
  • Can score 50 points minimum according to the following criteria

As a degree holder in Austria, you are automatically granted 30 points.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents:

  • Valid travel document 
  • Birth certificate or similar document acknowledged by the Austrian authorities 
  • Passport Photo not older than six months 
  • Evidence of locally customary accommodation (e.g. lease contract, preliminary agreement on tenancy rights or ownership evidence) 
  • Evidence of health insurance covering all risks (compulsory health insurance or equivalent insurance policy) 
  • Evidence of adequate means of subsistence (investment capital or sufficient own assets, insurance benefit certificates, evidence of retirement or other pension or insurance benefits)
  • As evidence of completed vocational education/training: relevant certificate or diploma 
  • As evidence of special know-how or skills: 
    • testimonial or training report and 
    • work certificate
  • As evidence of a completed programme of a minimum duration of three years at an institution of tertiary education:
    • document furnishing proof of successful completion of that programme and
    • document reflecting the status of the university or other institution of tertiary education

  • As evidence of a completed diploma programme or Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s degree 
  • Programme or vocational education/training in Austria:
    • document furnishing proof of successful completion of that programme or
    • apprenticeship certificate
  • As evidence of work experience:
    • testimonial and
    • work certificate
  • As evidence of language skills in German or English: an internationally recognised language diploma or language course certificate furnishing proof of these skills
  • Evidence of investment capital including available equity
  • As evidence of admission to a business incubator or funding by a start-up funding agency in Austria a contract with the relevant institution 
  • A business plan and documents as evidence of the innovational character of products, services, processing methods and technologies
  • As evidence of controlling influence on the management of the newly set-up company the articles of association of the company, except for one-person companies
  • Evidence of the qualification necessary for the self-employed professional activity 

Once you are granted a Start-up founder, you will be awarded a Red-White-Red Card for the first two years then a Red-White-Red Card plus after provided that all legal requirements are met.

The Red-White-Red Card entitles you to fixed-term settlement and the pursuit of a self-employed occupation.

The Red-White-Red Card plus entitles you to fixed-term settlement and unlimited labor market access (self-employment and gainful employment not limited to a specific employer).

Red-White-Red Card plus for graduates

After Red White Red Card expires you are eligible to apply for Red White Red Card plus and if you were employed in accordance with the eligibility criteria for at least 21 months during the preceding 24 months. 

This permit entitles you as a non-EU/EEA national to fixed-term settlement and unlimited labor market access (as a self-employed or an employed person, not limited to a specific employer). This permit will be valid for one year.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents

  • Valid travel document 
  • Birth certificate or a similar document
  • Passport Photo, taken recently (six months ago or less)
  • if applicable:
    • marriage certificate or certificate of registered same-sex partnership
    • adoption papers
    • proof or certificate of the family relationship
  • proof of a legal title to locally customary accommodation (e.g. a lease contract, preliminary agreement on tenancy rights or proof of ownership)
  • proof of health insurance covering all risks 
  • proof of adequate means of subsistence (particularly pay slips, proof of earnings, an employment contract, proof of retirement or other pension or insurance benefits, proof of investment capital or sufficient own assets)

EU Blue Card

If you have received a binding job offer for at least a year in Austria and the employment corresponds to your education with a gross annual income of at least one and a half times the average gross annual income of full-time employees. For 2020, the annual income requirement is at least € 63,672 annual salary plus special payments.

The EU Blue Card entitles you to fixed-term settlement and employment with a specific employer is valid for 24 months. You may qualify for Red White Red Card plus if you were employed in accordance with the eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card for at least 21 months during the preceding 24 months which will then entitle you to unlimited labor market access.

Long-term Resident – EU

This permit allows long-term settlement and free access to the labor market and is valid for five years. If you have been entitled to reside in Austria during the last five years without interruption, have fulfilled the general requirements and completed the Integration Agreement requirement.

Naturalised Austrian Citizenship

Once you have continuously lived in Austria for 10 years (a minimum five years of which as permanent resident), have sufficient financial means, have no criminal record and have sufficient knowledge of the German language then you qualify for citizenship.

Being a citizen of Austria allows you free rights of movement and residence in any of the states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

Citizenship by Investment

The Austrian Citizenship Act states that the government can reward foreign persons with citizenship in cases of extraordinary merit. This process may take various forms, including economic ones and can include capital contribution or other economic benefit brought to Austria.

However, in Austria, citizenship is not granted on the basis of a capital contribution alone. The foreign investor must make an extraordinary contribution alongside their investment, such as bringing new technologies to the country or creating a substantial number of new jobs. Significant direct investment is generally required. Passive investments in government bonds or real estate, for example, do not qualify. Each case is handled on an individual basis.

Benefits of Austria investment migration

  • Possibility of establishing residence as a person of independent means
  • Visa-free access to all Europe’s Schengen Area states with an Austrian residence permit
  • Possibility of acquiring citizenship by naturalization after 10 years of residence
  • Citizenship-by-investment possible without prior residence for wealthy investors
  • No stay requirement under citizenship-by-investment option
  • Attractive lifestyle and healthy environment
  • Excellent transport and communications

So, are you ready to make the move to Austria? Comment below.

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