Austria's social minister rejects calls to cut benefits for immigrants

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Austria's social minister rejects calls to cut benefits for immigrants
Pictured: an empty wallet (Photo by Emil Kalibradov / Unsplash)

Johannes Rauch (Greens) spoke out after Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) raised the idea in his Future of the Nation speech on Friday.


Over the weekend, Integration Minister Susanne Raab said she agreed with a proposal by Chancellor Karl Nehammer (both from the centre-right ÖVP ruling party) for a new regulation of social benefits for migrants.

Raab said that social benefits should only be paid in full when the stay in Austria is five years. She said this would reduce illegal migration and encourage the faster integration of immigrants.

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"A reform of the welfare system with a waiting period before receiving benefits would significantly reduce immigration into the welfare system and at the same time result in faster entry into the labour market," Raab said.

But the junior coalition partners Greens, have reacted negatively to the proposal.


"Restricting the receipt of social benefits for immigrants in the first five years will not lead to the recruitment of 10,000 care workers from abroad for Austria, as Chancellor Karl Nehammer formulated as a goal in his speech," Social Affairs Minister Johannes Rauch told the newspaper Der Standard.

The proposal comes at a time when Austrian companies are desperately seeking workers in many sectors. 

"Attractive framework conditions are therefore needed so that people want to come to Austria and work here," Rauch added.

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Christoph Badelt, Head of the Fiscal Council, also criticised Nehammer's proposal in the ORF "Press Hour" and said you have to be "very, very careful not to get into a mood where everything is directed against foreigners".

Additionally, Badelt warned that cuts to benefits for foreigners could lead to an increase in child poverty.

ÖVP members didn't clarify which benefits would only be accessible after five years.

What benefits can foreigners claim in Austria?

International residents in Austria are currently entitled to many of the same benefits as Austrian citizens. 

For example, unemployment benefits are available for all residents in Austria if you have worked for 52 weeks over the previous two years. Employees can also claim sickness benefit and rehabilitation allowance.

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Then there is Wochengeld, which is a maternity allowance. In Austria, women are not allowed to work for eight weeks before the due date and for eight weeks after giving birth. The only eligibility requirement for Wochengeld is that a woman was employed for at least three months at the time of conception.

Families in Austria can also access child benefits, tax credits and the child-raising allowance, as long as the eligibility requirements are met. 


However, there are already some benefits that third-country nationals can only access after five years of living in Austria, such as social assistance to cover living expenses.

Important links

European Commission: Employment, social affairs and inclusion


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