How to Obtain Austrian Residency

Austria is renowned for its high standard of living, quality education, healthcare, and favorable environment. While many Europeans find it relatively easy to relocate due to EU membership, significant diasporas from the Balkans and CIS countries also contribute to the country’s diverse population. This article details the process of obtaining Austrian residency, the grounds for it, and recent changes in immigration laws.

Previously, we wrote about how to move to and find work in Ireland.

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As of January 1, 2023, Austria was home to 1,730,286 people with foreign citizenship. Notably, the largest groups included 225,012 Germans, followed by 147,490 Romanians, 121,916 Serbians, and 119,706 Turks. Changes in migration legislation in October 2022 aimed at simplifying procedures resulted in a notable acceleration in residency issuance.

Further amendments in April 2023 targeted the facilitation of employment for qualified workers proficient in Spanish, French, Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. Additionally, starting October 1, 2023, Austria eased the rules for a Red-White-Red Card (Rot-Weiß-Rot-Karte, or RWR), a type of work visa, making the application process even faster. Criteria were relaxed, including qualification points, work experience requirements, and minimum wages for key workers.

  • The requirements for qualification points and work experience have been simplified;
  • Minimum salary requirements for key workers have been lowered;
  • The minimum wage for graduates has been eliminated;
  • Work permits for specialists within projects have been introduced;
  • Permanent employees in the tourism, agriculture, and forestry sectors have been included in the list of specialists on the RWR;
  • The scheme for permanent seasonal workers has been expanded;
  • A new Blue Card Directive has been implemented.

Since many of the changes took effect quite recently and extensive practice of issuing RWRs under the new rules has not yet developed, it is still impossible to give an unambiguous answer about how positive these innovations have been for foreigners as applicants and Austria as the host country.

Austrian law governing the issuance of residence permits is called the “Settlement and Residence Act” (NAG). According to this law, residence permits can be obtained based on:

  • Employment: Including work in key or rare positions (Articles 41, 42).
  • Business/Startup: Operating a business or startup (Article 43).
  • Family Reunification: Reuniting with family members (Articles 47, 56).
  • Scientific Research: Engaging in scientific research (Article 43).
  • Artistic Employment: Working in the artistic field (Article 43).
  • Media and Foreign Schools: Employment in the media or foreign schools (Article 43).
  • Volunteering: Volunteering activities (Article 67).
  • Social Work: Engaging in social work (Article 66).
  • Education: Pursuing education (Articles 63, 64).
  • Financial Independence.

Residence permits are typically issued for one year, with subsequent extensions for the same duration. Only after the second extension can a residence permit for three years be obtained. The processing of applications takes up to two months.

The Austrian residence permit is a plastic card containing a photo, personal information, and biometric data (fingerprints). Unlike many other countries, Austria does not grant residency permits based on investments or property purchases.

Red-White-Red Card (Rot-Weiß-Rot-Karte)

The RWR (Rot-Weiß-Rot-Karte) is something between a work visa and a short-term residence permit. The card can be obtained by:

  • Highly qualified workers who have scored at least 70 points in the evaluation system to confirm their degree. The application should be accompanied by a statement from the employer confirming that you will be working in your profession.
  • Foreigners with in-demand specialties. The list is determined by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Economics. To qualify, a minimum of 55 points is required in the evaluation system.
  • Key employees. The required number of points is 50. According to the employment contract, the salary must be 50% of the maximum ASVG contributions per month.
  • Startup founders. Approval from the employment service and 50 points in the same evaluation system are needed. Additionally, you must prove that your product is something new in its industry. Prepare a business plan and a sum of €30,000 in the bank account.
  • Entrepreneurs (self-employed). You need to obtain a report from the employment service about the project’s profitability, such as creating job positions.
  • University graduates. For RWR, you need to provide a diploma from studying in Austria and an employment contract confirming permanent employment.
  • Regular employees who have worked in the same field for at least 7 months each year for the past 2 years. You will need to take a German language test (level A2 or higher).

Student Residency

To obtain a student residence permit in Austria, applicants need to provide enrollment or study documents from a university. The permit is initially granted for one year and can be extended based on academic progress.

Social Work and Volunteering

Numerous social programs in Austria require specialists from other countries. Immigrants must prove their voluntary work and meet all criteria, along with having a contract with the hosting organization.

Residency for Artists

Graduates from art and design colleges and universities can secure their residency. They need to verify their education and provide a work contract for employed individuals or establish grounds for self-employment.

Residency for Researchers

This type of residency is for scientific researchers affiliated with research organizations. A doctoral degree is mandatory, and the field of study must align with the planned research.

Usually, the permit is issued for two years if the contract is not for a shorter period. Afterward, it’s possible to extend it for one year for job searching in Austria.

Special Paid Positions

Available for individuals engaged in religious activities, media professionals, and employees of foreign schools. Those who have graduated from medical institutions and need to undergo practical training can also apply.

To confirm eligibility, applicants must provide a work contract, documents regarding social benefits, and their diploma.

Residency for Financially Independent Individuals

Individuals who are landlords or retirees from non-EU countries and hold permanent residency in EU countries can obtain this type of residency.

The monthly income required is €1,110 for a single immigrant, €1,751 for a couple, and €171 for each child. Applicants should prepare documents demonstrating their financial means, such as bank statements and proof of other income sources, like rental income.

Moving to Austria Through Family Reunification

Residence permits on this basis can be obtained by:

  • Spouses of citizens or residents;
  • Parents, grandparents;
  • Minor children.

Reunited family members can work in the country or be self-employed. However, at the initial stage, the sponsor (reuniting family member) must prove that they can provide material and housing support for the arriving relatives.

To reunite, it will be necessary to confirm the family relationships with relevant documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.), financial sufficiency, and the availability of necessary housing. Especially for elderly family members, it is necessary to demonstrate that they are dependent on the sponsor.

Refusal to issue a residence permit

Refusal to issue a residence permit can occur for the following reasons:

  • Entry ban into Austria or violation of entry/residence rules.
  • Spouse or children remaining in the country of permanent residence.
  • False information in documents.

Translate all documents into German and apostille them. You will need:

  • Passport (international).
  • Residence permit application based on your grounds.
  • Photo 35*45 mm.
  • Health insurance.
  • Lease agreement (or purchase agreement) for accommodation.
  • Proof of financial means (e.g., bank statements).
  • Certificate of no criminal record.
  • Proof of German language proficiency (if required).
  • Additional documents based on your grounds.
  • Payment receipt for the fee (up to €200 for adults and €75 for children).
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You must personally submit all these documents to the consulate in your country of residence. Different processing times are specified for various types of residence permits, but according to feedback from those who have obtained permits for different reasons, it takes no more than 90 days. The minimum waiting time is 8 weeks, and the maximum is 6 months.

Wait for the permit to be issued. After that, you can enter the country with a visa pass, which is issued along with the residence permit.

To extend your residence permit, submit the corresponding request no earlier than 3 months before the expiration of the current permit. In case of delay, you must prove the existence of insurmountable circumstances that caused the violation.

The entities responsible for processing applications are the district administration or the governorship. After residing in the country for 2 years, it is necessary to complete a special integration course.

To obtain permanent residency in Austria, you must live in the republic for at least 5 years.

Based on immigrants' stories, it is noteworthy that the majority obtain the desired status faster than initially anticipated.

Moving to a country with a different culture and traditions is undoubtedly a significant source of stress. However, in today’s globalized world, where most people use the same messengers and social media, watch similar movies, and eat comparable food, relocating may be a somewhat more peaceful experience.

In this context, the Korona mobile application aids immigrants in maintaining connections with their homeland, supporting their loved ones, and, if necessary, facilitating family reunification.

KoronaPay is a money transfer service that allows you to send money quickly, easily, and conveniently to over 20 countries. When converting currency (e.g., euro to lari, euro to tenge, euro to dollar, etc.), no commission is charged.

Transfer receipts can be used as proof of financial dependence when processing family reunification applications. KoronaPay holds a European license, and its documents are accepted by relevant authorities.

You can download the application for free from the App Store and Google Play.

In our blog, we share insights about life and work in Europe. Read all our articles here.