Work permits For Members

Red-White-Red: How Austria is simplifying work permits for non-Europeans

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Red-White-Red: How Austria is simplifying work permits for non-Europeans
Eligibility criteria for Austria's Red-White-Red card is changing. (Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash)

Meeting the criteria for Austria’s fixed-term settlement and employment card is about to become easier following a recent vote in Parliament.


The Red-White-Red (Rot-Weiß-Rot) card is already one of Austria’s most popular immigration routes for qualified workers from third countries.

But the application process is to be reformed with sweeping changes to the eligibility criteria for minimum wage, language and recognition of professional qualifications, as well as improved rights for seasonal workers.

Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the Red-White-Red card?

The Red-White-Red (RWR) card is a 24-month permit for qualified workers and their families to live and work in Austria. It’s aimed at third country nationals. 

To qualify for the card, applicants need to have enough points based on education, professional experience, age and language skills.

There are six categories of people that can apply: very highly qualified workers (e.g. those with a PhD), skilled workers in shortage occupations, other key workers, graduates of Austrian universities, self-employed key workers and start-up founders.

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What is changing?

On Tuesday June 28th, the National Council’s Social Affairs Committee spoke out in favour of the proposed changes to the RWR card following votes of support from the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Greens and Neos, as reported by the Wiener Zeitung.

This means both the eligibility criteria and the application process will be easier to navigate in the future. 

Here’s an overview of the key changes.


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Applicants will be able to qualify for the RWR card with a minimum gross salary of 50 percent of the ASVG (social insurance) maximum contributions. This is currently €2,835 gross per month. 

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There will no longer be a minimum wage requirement for graduates from local universities and technical colleges, but the salary must still correspond to the local salary of domestic graduates with comparable work and professional experience. 

Some temporary qualified workers from third countries - such as IT workers - will be able to apply for a work permit for up to six months.

Foreign start-up founders will need just €30,000 in funds in the future, instead of the current rate of €50,000.

Knowledge of English will be equated with knowledge of German if the language in the company is English. 

The recognition of professional experience will be made easier, and language certificates and other evidence will remain valid for longer. 

There will be an easier application process for family members of RWR card holders to join them in Austria.

In addition, regular seasonal workers in tourism and agriculture will be given permanent access to the labour market after at least two years of seasonal employment in Austria.

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Why now?

Austria’s governing coalition argues that changes to the RWR card criteria is an important step in tackling the current labour shortage in Austria. 

As reported by The Local, Austria recently reported the lowest unemployment rate in 14 years (5.7 percent in May) with high demand for staff in the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as in hospitality.


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Not all political parties agree though and on Tuesday the National Council heard concerns from the SPÖ and FPÖ that the new rules for the RWR card could increase pressure on domestic workers. 

However, the Wiener Zeitung reports that Labor and Economics Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP) considered such concerns to be unfounded as there are currently only 5,300 active RWR cards in Austria. 

By comparison, Kocher said there are around 7,000 people from Ukraine in Austria with a work permit.

Useful links

Living and working in Austria

Austrian Business Agency


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