Calls for reform to immigration card

Calls for reform to immigration card
An example of a Red-White-Red card. Photo: APA/Interior Ministry
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner wants to lower the entry hurdles for the Red-White-Red card - a scheme which aims to facilitate the immigration of qualified non-EU foreign workers and their families with a view to permanent settlement in Austria.

The card was introduced three years ago but has fallen short of expectations. Last year, 1,177 permits were issued to immigrants who are either very highly qualified, or skilled workers in occupations which have a shortage of employees.

When it was introduced it was assumed the card would pave the way for 8,000 permits a year.

The Red-White-Red Card (the name refers to the Austrian flag) is issued for a period of 12 months and entitles the holder to fixed-term settlement and employment by a specified employer.

The People’s Party (ÖVP) has spoken out in favour of reforming the system and wants to make it easier for university graduates who are on low starting salaries to meet the criteria for applying for the card.

"At present many young graduates are being offered jobs with salaries which offer less than €2,000," Mikl-Leitner told ORF radio.

She added that the goal was "that young people should be allowed to remain in the country even after they’ve completed their degree, they should be allowed to work here, and become a taxpayer."

However, Social Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer said he saw no need for action. He told ORF radio that there was already "very, very large internal migration" within the EU. He said that Austria needed skilled migrants, but not to the extent that the government had anticipated three years ago.

Alexander Van der Bellen, the Vienna Greens spokesperson for Science and Research, said that the Red-White-Red Card had missed its targets, and called for a reform. He said that it was "simply unreasonable to evict [third country nationals] after they’ve completed their studies."

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