Bureaucracy is one of the rather unpopular features Austria is famous for and unfortunately one you can’t move around especially, when you try to find a job. Citizens of non-EU countries may apply three different forms of work permits in Austria.
- Restricted work permit (Beschäftigungsbewilligung) for one year
- Work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis) for two years
- Unrestricted work permit (Befreiungsschein) for five years
To finally obtain an unrestricted work permit in Austria, it is necessary to go through several steps of permissions, depending on one’s personal situation, future plans and other factors. To start the permission process it is required to apply for a restricted work permit, which allows to apply for a specific job and employer at a certain location. If you change your employer or location, it is required to apply for a new restricted work permit. After one year it is possible to apply for another Beschäftigungsbewilligung, or to apply for a real work permit, which is valid for two years at a specific district in Austria, but unlike the restricted work permit the Arbeitsbewilligung allows you to switch between employers. The work permit can be reapplied for, after two years.
After five years of employment in Austria with restricted work permits and work permits, it is finally possible to apply for an unrestricted work permit, without any restraints of employers and locations for a period of five years. With the backup of a company which supports the application, the permission process should go easily and quickly.
Though the system seems inscrutable in the beginning, following the right steps should get you an unrestricted work permit within five years. Here are some other tips you might consider, when applying for work permits:
Applying for a work permit requires a lot of supporting documentation, which has to be submitted in German. If you want the process to go fast and smooth, you have to prepare yourself in advance. The approval process usually takes about 7 weeks.
With the approval of the work permit, future employees are required to get a residence visa application in their usual country of residence, and are probably required to present a police clearance certificate and an original birth certificate.
Since working permit applications may vary depending on the country of origin and the individual, it is good to clarify your personal requirements in advance. Most of the forms can be downloaded and guidelines can be found online, but unfortunately, these sites are often in German. The City of Vienna provides a lot of useful information, since Austria’s capital hosts all of the institutions involved.
Work permits have to be applied for by the prospective employer at the Austrian Public Employment Service Austria (AMS – Arbeitsmarktservice).
Students with a residence of permit for study purposes (Arbeitsbewilligung “Studierender”) are allowed to work at limited extent (max. €341,16 salary per month) without getting a restricted work permit, after 12 months they may apply for a Freizügigkeitsbestätigung.
Austrian Officials introduced a more flexible form of immigration scheme in 2011 for qualified workers and their families from so called “third-country workers”. The Red-White-Red card is issued for 12 months and works similar as the restricted work permit. It has been introduced to facilitate the immigration process for specific employees:
- Very highly qualified workers
- Skilled workers in shortage occupations
- Other key workers
- Graduates of Austrian universities and colleges of higher education
- Self-employment key workers
The applicant requires a fixed and regular own income, which enables him to cover the living costs without benefitting from welfare aid, additional to that health insurance coverage is a necessity as well as a legit form of housing contractment.
All required forms can be downloaded at the AMS homepage.