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How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit

The days of Britons moving easily to Austria or other EU countries might be over, but that doesn’t mean the door is shut. Here's a look at the options for non-EU nationals to live and work in Austria.

How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit
Photo: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP

The UK has left the EU. This means Brits can no longer turn up in Austria to live and work without a visa.

Sure they can visit the country for up to 90 days without a visa, but when it comes to becoming a resident in the country and working, things get a little more complicated.

So how can British people move to Austria in these post-Brexit times? They need to do so like everyone else around the world that isn’t from an EU country. 

The days of easy movement around the bloc for Brits might be over, but that doesn’t mean the door is shut. There are just more bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Most people will need a work permit

British citizens are now considered as third-country nationals in Austria and have to go through a structured immigration channel.

One of the most common reasons to move to another country is for work and, like most places around the world, skilled workers are in demand in Austria.

First, there are three types of work permit in Austria to be aware of: restricted (for one year), standard (two years) and unrestricted (for five years). What you can get will depend on your situation.

READ MORE: The pros and cons of obtaining Austrian citizenship 

If you plan to stay in Austria for more than six months then you will also need a residence permit to enter the country. You can get this from an Austrian embassy or consulate before you move to Austria.

For those that are still determined to move to Austria regardless of Brexit and the bureaucracy, here are the main immigration pathways. 

The Red-White-Red Card

The Red-White-Red Card is a permit for qualified workers and their families to live and work in Austria. To qualify, applicants need to have enough points based on education, professional experience, age and language skills.

The points system for the Red-White-Red Card is split into several categories, as detailed below.

Very Highly Qualified Workers – if you score 70 points you can get a six-month Job Seeker Visa to enter Austria and find work. If you receive a job offer you can then apply for the Red-White-Red Card.

Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations – if you score 55 points and have a job offer you can apply for a 24-month permit. Professions include engineers, carpenters and nurses.

Start-Up Founder – to be eligible for this category you need 50 points and €50,000 in funds. There are bonus points for being under 35 and having an additional €50,000 to invest.

Graduates – if you graduate from an Austrian university, you can extend a student residence permit for 12 months to find a job or start a business. To stay on a long-term basis, graduates need to earn a minimum of €2,500 per month.

Self-employed key workers – this category is outside of the points system. Instead, you need to invest €100,000 into the Austrian economy and create jobs or introduce new technologies.

Other key workers – to qualify for this category you need 55 points and a minimum salary of €2,775 per month for people under 30, or €3,330 for people over 30.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is similar to the Red-White-Red Card, except it doesn’t involve a points system to qualify. 

To be eligible, you need to be educated at university level, have received a job offer in Austria, will earn one and a half times the average salary and have passed the labour market test (proof that there is no one local that can do the job).

READ MORE: Just how good does your German have to be to gain residency and citizenship? 

Additionally, the EU Blue Card gives holders free movement within the EU and permanent residency rights. For Brits searching for the pre-Brexit days, this is as close as it gets.

What other options are there?

Studying is another way to move to Austria. 

Many Brits take this route in countries like Australia and New Zealand after a working holiday visa has expired. The benefit of studying is gaining new skills and the possibility of being able to stay long-term with a job offer after the course has finished.

READ MORE: What you need to know about applying for Austrian citizenship 

Austria has an excellent education system and there are even many degree programmes taught in English. The downside is that British people will now need to apply for a residence permit for study purposes (Aufenthaltsbewilligung – Student) and pay international tuition fees.

Then there is a settlement permit for retirees. This involves showing proof of sufficient funds, health insurance, a place to live and some understanding of the German language.

In a nutshell, moving to Austria just got more difficult for British people. But it’s not impossible – as long as you have the right skills, you want to study or you have the right amount of money.

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IMMIGRATION

What is Vienna’s MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The city of Vienna now has several new appointment slots for a 'first information meeting' for those wanting to apply for Austrian citizenship. Here's what you need to know.

What is Vienna's MA 35 doing to offer better service for immigrants in Austria?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna, MA 35, is known for long waiting periods, delays and even mistakes being made in applications. It has recently received renewed criticisms as new appointments for Austrian citizenship were not open until mid-2023.

Things got even worse, and applicants now have to wait until October 2023 to get the first appointment. Only after this meeting will they receive another date (sometimes also a year later) to submit the documents asked. 

READ ALSO: ‘Insensitive and inefficient’: Your verdict on Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

Green politician Aygül Berivan Aslan said the reform of MA 35 had “failed”. She said she welcomed the SPÖ’s push towards simplifying access to citizenship but felt that “theory and practice do not match”. Speaking in the Viennese parliament, she introduced a motion for a six-month evaluation of the office.

Aslan also proposed that in the case of delays of more than six months, citizenship costs should be waived for applicants. 

Stadt Wien service screenshot

How bad is the situation?

Not only do people have to wait months for a first talk and then months to submit documents, but once their part is done, the wait is not over. There are currently 3,800 procedures pending for more than half a year in the MA 35, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Integration Christoph Wiederkehr (NEOS) said.

He justified delays saying that the number of applications had risen by around 30 percent his year in Vienna – only last month, there were 600 appointments booked. 

“The sharp increase can be explained by the eligibility of refugees from 2015 to apply for citizenship as well as by uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine”, he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Bring everything you have’: Key tips for dealing with Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

He added that the goal would need to be “simplifying the procedures nationwide”. However, Wiederkehr also said there were reforms still being implemented in the MA 35.

Wiederkehr said: “On the part of the city, there are ongoing staff increases at MA 35. The training of the employees is so complex that it takes about a year.” 

“In addition to the increase in staff, there was an analysis to optimise some work processes, as well as intensive training. Digitalisation is also being accelerated”, he added.

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