Facilitated access for skilled and key personnel from third countries

Currently, a ministerial draft[1]  is under review, which aims to facilitate the recruitment of qualified workers from third countries and thus strengthen Austria as a business location in the globalized competition for labor. In addition, the Directive (EU) 2021/1883 ("EU Blue Card Directive")[2]  is to be implemented in Austria. Other objectives include service-oriented assistance for companies and permanent access for core employees (“Stammarbeiter”). The review period for the ministerial draft runs until 27.5.2022.


Amendment of the Red-White-Red Card

The ministerial draft focuses on various measures to facilitate access to the Red-White-Red Card for skilled and key personnel. On the one hand, the strict links between qualifications and work experience in the points system of Annexes A to D to the Foreigner’s Employment Act are to be eased.

On the other hand, the removal of the word "training-adequate" [work experience] now makes it possible to also obtain points for completed work experience or qualifications if these do not correspond to the employment intended. In addition, the points system for skilled workers in shortage occupations will be eased to the effect that a uniform 30 points will now be awarded for proof of vocational training, regardless of the type of training (apprenticeship certificate, completion of a vocational school or degree). It is also planned to award points per half-year.  Applicants will receive one point for each half year of professional experience, so that two points per year of professional experience can still be achieved.

An upgrade for English skills is also planned. These are to be put on an equal footing with German skills if English is the predominant language in the company where employment is intended. In general, the awarding of points for language skills is to be made easier.  In the future language diplomas and course certificates may not be older than five years at the time of application, instead of not older than one year as at present. The Labour Market Service's practice of also accepting the completion of a school or course of study with German or English as proof is now to be made binding.

In order to reduce the barriers to entry for younger applicants, the statutory minimum gross wage for people over 30 is to be reduced from 60% to 50% of the maximum monthly contribution base pursuant to Section 108 (3) General Social Security Act (“ASVG”) plus special payments. (For 2022, the amount is EUR 2,835 gross.) For graduates, the statutory minimum wage is to be abolished altogether. However, they should continue to receive at least the standard remuneration of domestic graduates with comparable work and professional experience.


Adaptation of the EU Blue Card to the Directive requirements

Also in implementation of the EU Blue Card Directive - which has to take place by 18.11.2023 at the latest - some measures are to be taken to facilitate access to the Austrian labor market for highly qualified personnel from third countries. For this purpose, the salary threshold is to be reduced from 1.5 times to 1 time of the average annual gross salary in Austria.

Facilitations are also planned regarding the change of employment: If the change of employer takes place after twelve months of employment in the same Member State, the labor market examination (substitute force procedure) is to be waived and the new employment may be provisionally taken up immediately. A waiver of the labor market examination for applicants who plan to change from a national residence title (e.g. Red-White-Red Card) to the Blue Card is also planned.

There are also plans to make it easier to carry out activities: In order to make the Blue Card more attractive, the exercise of a self-employed activity is to become permissible for holders, as long as this is subordinate to the employed activity. The planned regulation on short-term mobility of holders of the Blue Card of an EU country provides for a temporary right of residence of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days and the exercise of certain business activities in the interest of the employer and closely related to the obligations arising from the respective employment relationship even without a permit from the labor market authorities (e.g. secondment permit, employment permit). The activities that do not require a permit go significantly beyond the short-term activities that do not exceed one week and do not require a permit according to the  Foreigner’s Employment Act (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz).[3]


Other planned measures

Special employment permits are to be issued for a maximum period of six months for specialists who are temporarily employed to carry out temporary projects in addition to permanent staff without the intention of immigration.

Regular seasonal workers who are already registered with the AMS are to receive a Red-White-Red Card in the future, regardless of their age and qualifications. The regular seasonal worker regulation, which came into force at the beginning of the year, is to be amended to the effect that employment in the previous five calendar years will be decisive for registration.

Service for companies is to be improved by streamlining the process, such as speeding up the substitute force procedure to 10 days, as well as establishing a new service point at the Austrian Business Agency.

As a further service, the application for the foreigner for a Red-White-Red Card or Blue Card EU should also be able to be submitted by the future employer in Austria at the same time as the application for their family members.



Denise Berzsenyi
+43 5 70 375 - 1628



Talk to our BDO expert Katja Reichl

+43 5 70 375 - 1463

[1] Ministerial Draft of 28.4. 2022, 195/ME BlgNR 27. GP.

[2] Directive (EU) 2021/1883 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2021 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment and repealing Council Directive 2009/50/EC, OJ L 382, 28.10.2021.

[3] Section 18 (2) of the Foreigner’s Employment Act.


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