Residence permit in Austria, work permit

In order to work in Austria, non-residents are required a so-called Beschäftigungsbewilligung (work permit).
However, certain exceptions exist:

  • foreigners married to Austrian or EU citizens with permanent residence permits;
  • children of Austrian or EU citizens, including adopted children and children under 21, having a permanent residence permit and residing with an Austrian or EU citizen.
  • refugees under the Refugee Convention having the right for long-time residence in Austria;
  • employees of teaching, scientific and cultural organizations created on the basis of interstate agreements;
  • employees of diplomatic corps and consular services or international organizations with a diplomatic status;
  • international media representatives – only for the period of accreditation;
  • professors, lecturers, instructors, research scientists, assistants invited to Austrian universities and art academies under a contract;
  • foreign citizens working in research and educational EU programs;
  • members of religious organizations and recognized denominations;
  • ship crews.

There are several types of work permits (Beschäftigungsbewilligung):
Entsendebewilligung – a business trip.
An employee of a foreign enterprise is dispatched to Austria in order to fulfil obligations under a contract signed with an Austrian company, provided that the duration of the co-joint project does not exceed 6 months. In this event the Austrian enterprise has to issue a “business trip permit” not exceeding 4 months. If the employee needs to stay longer, then Beschäftigungsbewilligung shall be issued.

Beschäftigungsbewilligung – a permit to hire.
Issued by a labour administration (regional department of the employment office – Arbeitsmarktservice), the permit states the occupation and the job position of a foreign citizen. This permit is issued for an enterprise owner only if a job position is vacant and is not applied for by an Austrian citizen. Also, it applies only to a certain position and a certain employer. The permit is valid for 1 year and can be prolonged by an employer after submission of the corresponding application.

Arbeitserlaubnis – a permit to work in a certain federal state in Austria, where a foreign worker can choose both, an employer and a field of activity. Valid for 2 years. If a foreign citizen has worked for 52 weeks on a legal position in Austria (with a valid Beschäftigungsbewilligung), he can apply for Arbeitserlaubnis himself. This permit is not tied to a certain enterprise which is its main difference from Beschäftigungsbewilligung. In order to receive Arbeitserlaubnis, one should apply to a regional department of the employment office.

Befreiungsschein von der Beschäftigungsbewilligung is a certificate that abolishes employment limitations, issued to a foreigner after 8 years of work in Austria. The following categories of foreign citizens qualify for this certificate:

  • persons who have lived and worked in Austria for 8 and 5 years respectively;
  • youngsters with foreign citizenship (non-EU) who have lived most of their lives in Austria or who have obtained a half of their school education in Austria, while their parents spent at least 5 years in Austria. Therefore, if your child has been attending an Austrian school starting from the 5th form, he will not need a work permit after graduation. If a foreign citizen has Befreiungsschein von der Beschäftigungsbewilling, he doesn’t need any special permit for employment in Austria. The certificate can be issued in a regional department of the employment office (Arbeitsmarktservice).

According to Arbeitsmarktservice statistics, 220 300 foreign citizens work in Austria under various work permits (Beschäftigungsbewilligung, Arbeitserlaubnis, Befreiungsschein), of them 63 568 are Serbian citizens, 40 159 are from Bosnia-Herzegovina and 38 749 are from Turkey. 956 persons from the CIS are registered in Austria holding official work permits, which is a couple of hundreds less than the number of Chinese or Bulgarian immigrants. This small number is due to the fact that many CIS citizens are entrepreneurs (selbständige), while others are on a long-time business trip, work illegally or do not work at all.

AMS data demonstrates the following unemployment situation: in the end of February 2004, 287 049 unemployed persons were registered (of them 186 365 were men and 100 684 were women), 12 548 persons were unemployed for over a year and 41 340 unemployed were aged between 15 and 25. Meantime, total population of the Alpine Republic is around 8 million people. Compared to other federal states, Wien has the highest rate of 85 363 unemployed, while there are only 3 634 vacancies available. The best situation with vacant job positions is in Niederoesterreich – 4 346 (49 448 unemployed persons registered) – and in Vorarlberg – 3 634 positions (7 286 persons unemployed).

There are enough foreigners among the unemployed as well, namely 48 937 persons (36 598 men and 12 339 women). Bosnian, Turkish and Yugoslavian citizens are the first to mention. The law on employment of foreigners (Autsländerbeschäftigungsgesetz) impedes integration of foreigners into Austrian society. Immigrants are seen as competitors, which degrades the situation on the Austrian labour market. For instance, starting from 1990, the number of foreigners working in Austria has been cut by 8%.