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VISAS

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Austria

Working holiday visas are a great way to immerse in a new culture for a longer time while partially funding the trip through work. Austria offers the scheme for citizens of a few countries. Here is what you need to know.

Man standing in the middle of a stream
It's sunny and cooler today. (Photo by Simon Berger/Pexels)

Most people wanting to stay for longer than three months in Austria will need some sort of visa. Unfortunately, they are not easy to get and may sometimes be expensive.

For example, a visa to study German will let you live in Austria for six months – as long as you prove you will be able to pay all your expenses, including the course and living expenses while in Austria. 

There are however other options. 

People who want to stay legally in Austria for up to six to twelve months and perhaps spontaneously work or take a course may apply for a Working Holiday Visa.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How does the au pair program work in Austria?

The Austrian government says the working holiday programmes were set up to “meet the relevant demands” and enable young people to finance their holiday stay abroad – at least to some extent – themselves, gather practical vocational experience in another country and benefit from the local educational facilities.

“Under these programmes, young people may gather professional experience abroad and acquire/improve foreign language skills, which are important aspects when starting a career. Another objective is promoting young people’s understanding of other countries and cultures.”

However, there are several restrictions and pre-requisites that you need to be aware of.

Who can apply for a working holiday visa?

There are two main requirements to be able to apply for the visa. First, the Working Holiday Program exists as a dual agreement, so Austria needs to have an agreement with each country so that the citizens can participate in the program.

Currently, only citizens from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan are allowed to apply for the vista.

Additionally, the program aims to facilitate the entry of young people whose primary goal is not study or work. Therefore, only people aged 18 to 30 can apply.

What other requirements are there?

There are other things to be aware of. For example, if you have already completed a working holiday stay, you may only apply for another stay for another country.

Applicants also need a passport valid at least three months after the planned return journey, a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase one, enough financial resources for the stay, and prove adequate insurance coverage.

READ ALSO: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

They must also meet health and reputational requirements, meaning they must not have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Finally, there is also a visa fee (€150 for most countries) that needs to be paid and is not waived or refunded even if the visa is rejected or cancelled.

Austria is home to internationally-renowned wine growing regions and beautiful wineries – with plenty of seasonal work opportunities. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

How long can I stay?

Usually from up to six to twelve months, depending on the country of your citizenship. For example, nationals of Argentina are allowed to stay for twelve months but may not work for more than six months for the same employer.

People from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea and Taiwan can stay up to twelve months. New Zealanders can stay for up to six months.

The specific requirements may also change depending on your citizenship. You can find more information here.

READ ALSO: IN DETAIL: How to get your Meldezettel in Austria

Austria’s Foreign Ministry also states that using a working holiday visa does not affect the provisions for visa-free residence in Austria and the Schengen area.

“Even if this visa-free stay should occur immediately before and after, no departure is necessary”.

This means that you can stay in Austria for the entire duration of your working holiday visa (be it up to six to twelve months) and then stay in Austria or another Schengen country for another three months – if you are a citizen of a country with Schengen visa-free country.

You can also enter and leave Austria multiple times while holding this visa, so travelling within the EU (and further) is not a problem.

How do I apply for the visa?

The application should be addressed to the respective Austrian representation, meaning the Austrian consulate or embassy in your country.

You should check the websites of the Austrian representatives in your country to find out more.

READ ALSO: Nine things you need to know when relocating to Vienna

For example, citizens of some countries, like Canada and Australia, can book their visa appointment online and apply through the Austrian Embassy or Consulate in Munich, Ljubljana, Bratislava and London during their legal stay in Europe.

You will need to complete an Austrian Visa D application form (available with the Austrian embassy in your country), have a passport-sized photo less than six months old, and bring your proof of income or financial resources.

You can find more information here.

What if I want to stay for longer?

Working holiday visas are usually not extendable, and you cannot stay in Austria working or studying after it expires without changing your permit.

You may apply for other visas to stay for longer, including an employment or job seeker visa.

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For members

VISAS

Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term

Moving to another country is an exciting adventure, but it also involves practical matters like securing a visa or residency permit. Here’s how it works in Austria.

Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term

Planning a move to Austria? Then the process will depend on where you are from and why you want to move to the country.

Here’s an overview of the different options available to move to Austria.

READ ALSO: ‘I’ll probably return to the UK’: Moving to Austria as a Brit post-Brexit

EU or Schengen zone passport holders

If you have a passport from an EU or Schengen zone country, then you are covered by the European Union freedom of movement rules. This makes it much easier to move to Austria than for non-EU nationals. 

For those that belong to this category, visa requirements do not apply but an Austrian residence permit is required for stays longer than three months.

EU nationals will also have to meet the following criteria:

  • Being employed or self-employed in Austria.
  • Studying at a recognised Austrian institution.
  • Having sufficient financial means to support yourself.

READ MORE: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

Additionally, EU passport holders have to register their residence in Austria within three days of arriving to receive the Meldebestätigung (proof of residence). This is a required document to get the official registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung). 

The application for the Anmeldebescheinigung has to be submitted within four months of arriving in Austria at a local government department responsible for immigration and citizenship. 

Third country nationals (non-EU)

In Austria, third country nationals are people who do not hold a passport from an EU or EEA country. If you are in this group, you can travel to the EU (including Austria) for a period of 90 days in every 180 days as a visitor.

This might be enough for second home owners or people that don’t intend to live and work in Austria. But for anyone that wants to stay in Austria for longer, some type of visa or residency permit is needed.

This will often mean beginning the application process in your home country, once you have decided which immigration route to pursue.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

Work permits

One of the most common reasons to move to Austria is for work and – like most countries around the world – skilled workers are in high demand in Austria.

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 apply for will depend on your situation.

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.

Red-White-Red Card

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

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 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 a minimum of 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 at least 50 points and €50,000 in funds. There are bonus points for being under 35, having an additional €50,000 to invest or admission to a business incubator in Austria.

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 €2,551 per month (2022 rates).

Self-employed key workers – this special category is outside of the Austrian immigration points system. Instead, you need to invest €100,000 into the 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 €2,8355 per month for people under 30, or €3,402 for people over 30.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a residency permit that is specifically designed for high earners in shortage occupations who have been offered a job in Austria.

There is no points system for the Blue Card, but you do need to fulfil the following criteria: 

  • Educated at university level (for at least a three-year programme).
  • Received a job offer in Austria which passes the ‘labour market test’ to confirm no-one in Austria or the EU could do the job. 
  • The salary must be one and a half times the average Austrian salary.

In 2022, the salary requirement means that an applicant has to earn a minimum of €66,593 (before tax) – that’s up from €65,579 in 2021, due to an increase in the national average salary.

However, after 18 months, EU Blue Card holders gain free movement within the EU (apart from in Denmark and Ireland) for the purpose of work. For any Brits reading this and searching for the pre-Brexit days, this is as good as it gets.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

Joining family

To join family members in Austria for more than six months (also known as family reunification), you will need a residence permit.

This category of immigration is for spouses, registered partners and unmarried minors (including adopted children and step children) of those with a residence permit for Austria and is called the Red-White-Red-Plus card.

The Red-White-Red-Plus card allows holders full access to the labour market in Austria, but you do need proof of German language skills at Level A1.

Studying

Non-EU passport holders need to apply for a visa prior to entering Austria to study for less than six months.

There are two options: Visa C and Visa D.

Visa C allows you to stay in Austria and move around the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days.

Alternatively, Visa D is for stays of at least 91 days but no more than six months.

For stays of more than six months in Austria for the purpose of education, you can apply for a residence permit after entering the country. This is called an Aufenthaltsbewilligung – Student.

Visit the OEAD website for more information about moving to Austria as a student or researcher.

READ NEXT: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

Not working or retired

For retired people, or those not working and able to support themselves financially, there is the ‘gainful employment excepted’ residents permit, otherwise known as Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit.

This type of permit allows for income through a pension or private funds, but there are limits on how many can be issued in Austria each year.

After five years of continuous residence in Austria with this permit, you can then apply for permanent residency in Austria.

Citizenship

Citizenship is available for international residents in Austria, but it comes at a cost – most notably that applicants have to revoke their original citizenship.

Austria also has a requirement of ten years’ continuous residence (including five years as a permanent resident) to be eligible for citizenship, which is one of the longest naturalisation processes of any European country. 

However, this is reduced for someone who has been married to an Austrian citizen for five years and lived in Austria on a continuous basis for six years.

Additionally, there is a special law to allow descendants of victims of Nazi persecution to apply for Austrian citizenship without having to give up their original citizenship.

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