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Austria Offers Red-White-Red Card to Skilled Professionals for Work, Residency


Austria is actively addressing its skilled labor shortage by streamlining procedures for the Red-White-Red Card, an innovative program designed to attract highly skilled workers from around the world. At a recent meeting of the interministerial Skilled Workers Strategy Committee, officials discussed decisive measures to accelerate the Red-White-Red Card application process. These efforts aim to bolster Austria’s workforce with international talent and enhance the country’s appeal as a top employment destination.

Significant Increase in Approved Applications

In the first quarter of 2024 alone, Austria approved 3,200 applications for the Red-White-Red Card, marking a 35% increase compared to the same period in 2023. Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP) anticipates that this number could rise to 10,000 by the end of the year, reflecting a growing trend of skilled workers relocating to Austria.

The Red-White-Red Card: An Overview

The Red-White-Red Card serves as a combination of residence and work permits valid for two years, offering an attractive proposition for non-EU workers. This program is particularly designed for:

  • Highly qualified professionals
  • Skilled workers in shortage occupations
  • Other key workers
  • Graduates of Austrian universities and colleges of higher education
  • Self-employed key workers
  • Start-up founders

Applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria, including scoring more than 70 points in an assessment based on qualifications, work experience, age, and language skills.

Pathway to Permanent Residency

The Red-White-Red Card is initially valid for up to 24 months. It can be extended or replaced with the Red-White-Red Card Plus, granting holders the flexibility to work for any company in Austria. Additionally, Red-White-Red Card holders can sponsor their family members for residence permits, further enhancing their integration into Austrian society.

Cost of Living in Austria

Living in Austria offers a high standard of living, but it’s essential to be aware of the cost of living. On average:

  • Rent: Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €850, while outside the center, it can be about €600.
  • Utilities: Basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for an 85m2 apartment cost approximately €200 per month.
  • Groceries: A monthly grocery bill for a single person ranges from €200 to €300.
  • Transportation: A monthly public transport pass costs about €50.

Healthcare in Austria

Austria boasts a comprehensive and high-quality healthcare system. Public healthcare is accessible to all residents, with mandatory health insurance covering most medical services. The system ensures that everyone receives necessary medical attention, contributing to Austria’s high life expectancy and excellent public health outcomes.

Education for Children

Austria offers a robust education system, with free public education available to all children. The system includes:

  • Kindergarten: Available for children aged 3-6.
  • Primary School: Compulsory education starts at age 6 and lasts for nine years.
  • Secondary School: Includes various pathways, such as general education and vocational training.
  • Higher Education: Universities and colleges offer a wide range of programs, with many institutions providing courses in English to accommodate international students.

Path to Citizenship

Foreigners residing in Austria through the Red-White-Red Card have a clear pathway to citizenship. The process involves:

  1. Permanent Residency: After holding the Red-White-Red Card Plus for at least five years, you can apply for permanent residency.
  2. Naturalization: After ten years of continuous legal residence in Austria, you can apply for Austrian citizenship. This period can be reduced to six years in cases of exceptional integration, such as demonstrating advanced German language skills and active participation in community life.

High-Demand Occupations

According to the 2023 EURES report on shortages and surpluses, Austria is in dire need of skilled workers in various fields, including:

  • Electrical mechanics and fitters
  • Agricultural and industrial machinery mechanics
  • Motor vehicle mechanics and repairers
  • Welders and flame cutters
  • Plumbers and pipefitters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Nursing associate professionals
  • Construction supervisors
  • Engineering professionals

These occupations are among some of the better-paid roles in Austria. For instance, general medical practitioners earn an average of €162,974 per year, while registered nurses make around €69,552 annually. Electrical engineers earn approximately €75,384 per year, and automotive mechanics make about €43,001 per year.

Application Process for the Red-White-Red Card

To apply for the Red-White-Red Card, follow these steps:

  1. Eligibility Check: Ensure you meet the criteria for one of the eligible categories.
  2. Document Preparation: Gather necessary documents, including proof of qualifications, work experience, language skills, and a job offer from an Austrian employer.
  3. Application Submission: Submit your application and supporting documents to the Austrian embassy or consulate in your home country or directly to the Austrian immigration office if you are already in Austria.
  4. Fee Payment: Pay the application fee, which varies depending on the type of application and processing location.
  5. Processing Time: Wait for the application to be processed. Processing times can vary, but efforts are being made to expedite this process.
  6. Approval and Collection: Once approved, collect your Red-White-Red Card and begin your journey as a skilled worker in Austria.

For detailed information and to apply, visit the official government website: Austrian Migration and Integration.

By accelerating the Red-White-Red Card process, Austria aims to attract a substantial influx of skilled workers, thereby addressing labor market challenges and enhancing its economic vitality.

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