Working in Austria For Members

EXPLAINED: How entrepreneurs can get Austria‘s 'Red-White-Red' card for skilled non-EU workers

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How entrepreneurs can get Austria‘s 'Red-White-Red' card for skilled non-EU workers
Business founders are one of the few people who don't need a job offer under Austria's Red-White-Red card, but there are some catches. Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP).

Austria’s recently reformed “Red-White-Red” card aims to make it easier for skilled non-EU workers to take up jobs here, by awarding points for qualifications and language skills. Almost all applicants though, require an existing job offer to get one—with one notable exception. Here’s how entrepreneurs can get one.


Austria’s skilled labour shortage is affecting nearly every sector of the economy, with vacancies in everything from gardeners to skilled IT workers. At least 124,000 jobs need filling in Austria, but the government believes the need is actually higher, as not all vacancies are advertised or registered.

Although the government’s new points-based Red-White-Red card is primarily designed to fill these vacancies, there are two categories of the card relevant to entrepreneurs, and thus not requiring specific job offers to get one—as most Red-White-Red categories or the EU Blue Card do.

That said, some of the requirements can be steep in other ways, as the applicant typically has to have some sizeable capital to draw upon. Start-up founders still also have to have a minimum number of points under the Red-White-Red scheme to get a card as well.

READ ALSO: Germany or Austria: Where is it easier to get an EU Blue Card?


Starting up your own business in Austria on a Red-White-Red card

People who start up a company in Austria can get a Red-White-Red card without a job offer if their company brings innovative products, services, or technology to the market while being based in Austria.

The person applying for the Red-White-Red card under the start-up scheme must be able to prove that the company has at least €30,000 in start-up capital. They must also prove that they themselves own at least a 50 percent share of the company and that they intend to exert a personal influence in how it is managed.

It would thus be hypothetically possible, for example, for two non-EU foreigners to co-own a start-up—each with a 50 percent stake—and both get a Red-White-Red card. The same thing would be true of a company co-owned by a non-EU foreigner and an Austrian, for example. Sharing ownership between three people would only be possible if the non-EU foreigner holds an unequal stake—for example where he or she owns 50 percent and two Austrian partners hold 25 percent each.

Austria workers

A non-EU start-up founder in Austria can co-own their business and still get a Red-White-Red card, but they need at least a 50 percent stake. Photo by Pixabay.

The founder seeking a Red-White-Red card must also submit their business plan and score a minimum of 50 points out of a possible 85 under the scheme. Start-up founders can get points for education, work experience, German or English language skills, additional secured capital, funding by an Austrian start-up agency, or being under 35 years old.

READ ALSO: COMPARED: Germany’s Chancenkarte vs. Austria’s Red-White-Red card for skilled non-EU workers

Self-Employed Key Workers

More established self-employed key workers can also get an Austrian Red-White-Red card without a job offer—and even without having to satisfy a minimum number of points under the scheme. However, they need to have a considerably higher amount of capital than start-up founders.

An applicant under this scheme must have a business that "creates a macroeconomic benefit for Austria beyond its own operational benefit". What does that mean? There’s a few possibilities:

  • The business involves a sustained transfer of investment capital to the country of at least €100,000
  • It creates new jobs in Austria
  • The business brings technological know-how to the country
  • The business is significant for an entire Austrian region

Given these requirements, this type of Red-White-Red card is perhaps best for experienced business owners with plenty of capital, but there may be certain other cases where it’s still applicable.


What happens after I get a Red-White-Red card?

Successful applicants for a Red-White-Red card may then work in Austria for up to two years, at which point they may apply to extend their work permission through a Red-White-Red Plus card, which gives the holder unlimited access to the Austrian labour market that isn’t bound to any specific employer.

It is also possible to change the type of Red-White-Red card you’re on while in Austria. To do that though, you’ll have to satisfy all the requirements of the category you switch to, including having a job offer and getting the minimum number of points that scheme requires.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also