Working in Austria For Members

Reader question: Can I work in Austria while I wait for my work residence permit?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Reader question: Can I work in Austria while I wait for my work residence permit?
Why movers to Switzerland always ask about wages. Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash)

Non-Austrian citizens living in the country must have either a residence registration or permit, which can take weeks to several months. Can they work while waiting?


Reader question: I'm an EU citizen and recently moved to Austria. I know I have four months to make the Anmeldebescheiningung registration, but can I work in the meantime?

EU/EEA citizens enjoy the freedom of movement in the bloc, which means they are generally free to move and work in other countries, including Austria.

As a citizen of an EU country, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you have the right to live in Austria for more than three months as long as you meet one of the following criteria: being employed or self-employed in Austria, studying at a recognised Austrian institution, or having sufficient financial means to support yourself (including if your partner earns enough to support both of you).

As well as fulfilling one of these conditions, you need valid health insurance for Austria.

READ ALSO: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria's crucial residence document

This means that not only are you allowed to work before you get your registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung), but you might actually need to in order to prove you can support yourself during your stay - however long - in Austria.


But what about third-country citizens?

For citizens that do not hold an EU/EEA nationality, though, rules are pretty different. They won't need a registration or residence certificate. Instead, they'll need a residence permit for stays longer than six months, and in most cases, they won't be allowed to work while in the processing period.

A rare exception is if you currently hold a Student visa and may be waiting to swap it for a "Rot-Weiss-Rot" (RWR) work permit. 

If you are a third-country national who has pursued and successfully completed a higher degree study at an Austrian public university, university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) or accredited private university, you may renew your residence permit “Students” for a period of twelve months to search for employment or start a business in Austria. 

In that case, you are granted an employment permit for jobs of up to 20 hours per week. If you get a job offer that fulfils the criteria for an RWR permit, you may change your Student visa for a working permit.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

Things are more complicated when it comes to other types of permits. For example, if you are on a Job Seeker Visa, which allows very highly qualified workers to search for a job within six months in Austria, you generally cannot take up a position not matching your qualifications.

"All applicants who apply for the first time for an RWR card need to match the job they apply for with their professional qualifications. And a person with a job seeker visa is not allowed to work while searching for a job in Austria.", explains Kornelia Epping, a specialist in immigration and relocation and CEO of MOVES consulting in Vienna. 


When third-country citizens move to Austria, a common permit is the RWR card, a work permit. Since it is connected to a concrete employment offer, people are allowed to work for the company that sponsored their RWR card - changing companies means they'll have to apply for a new RWR card.

READ ALSO: How long do I have to work for in Austria to get unemployment benefits?

However, spouses and family members of RWR holders will get a different permit, the RWR Plus, which allows them to work for any company, but only once they get the document. 

"All third-nationals waiting for the approval of their permit - first-time application - need to wait for the approval and handout of the permit until they are allowed to start working", said Epping. Unfortunately, this means that spouses of RWR cardholders may need to wait for weeks and months until they can find a job in Austria. 


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