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How do I stay in Austria after graduating from an Austrian university?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
How do I stay in Austria after graduating from an Austrian university?

If you’ve completed university or a recognised professional qualification in Austria, your path to staying in the country to work is a bit simpler than if you’re applying under the country’s points system for skilled workers.

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With the Austrian government keen to keep recent graduates in the country to help address a skilled labour shortage of at least 124,000 jobs, university and technical students who have just completed their studies in Austria have an opportunity to access the job market here in a way few other non-EU foreigners do.

First of all, as soon as you graduate, you can simply renew your student residence permit for a full year after the official completion date of your studies. Note that this isn’t the day your graduation ceremony is held, but rather the official end of your final semester. In some cases, this could be months after you actually finish up your last exam, term paper, or pass your thesis.

Your renewed student permit will allow you to stay in Austria to look for a job that matches your qualifications — or to start up your own business.

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This puts a graduate of an Austrian institution at a significant advantage over other skilled applicants under the country’s points-based scheme. Most applicants under that points system have to have a job offer already to apply for their work visa. Graduates still in Austria can take the time to look and network in the country itself and potentially go to more interviews in person than someone applying from abroad might be able to do.

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

Do I need a certain number of points? What else do I need?

No.

The other advantage of being a recent graduate in Austria is that you do not need to get a minimum number of points to qualify for your Red-White-Red card if you find a job right after your studies related to your education.

Under the points system, even those who have clear qualifications may not end up having enough points, as age, work experience and language skills all come into play.

Recent graduates from Austrian institutions don’t have to worry about this. They simply need a job offer in their field or documentation proving they’re starting a business. They don’t even need the labour market documentation that some points system applicants would need.

After getting the relevant job offer within twelve months of graduating, all you need is a salary comparable to what local employees receive that enables you to support yourself without welfare payments, plus accommodation and health insurance coverage — which you are likely to still have anyway as a student.

Students graduating from Austrian universities don't need points to qualify for a Red-White-Red card, and their required minimum salary is much less than what Blue Card applicants need.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Whereas an EU Blue Card in Austria, for example, would require the applicant to have a minimum annual salary of €45,595, a recent graduate’s salary can be much lower than this and still qualify for a Red-White-Red card. It’s enough that they don’t depend on benefit payments and make a comparable wage to what local graduates in the same position would make.

Once you have your Red-White-Red card, you have a two-year valid work permit for Austria. After this, you can apply for a Red-White-Red Plus card. If granted, that’ll give you unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market independent of field or employer.

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

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What about graduates or Austrian institutions who don’t get a job right after graduation?

If you went to an accredited institution in Austria but didn’t get a job here within twelve months, returning to Austria to work can still be a bit simpler than it is for other skilled workers.

That’s because the Red-White-Red points system gives out a few extra points to people who have had some experience in Austria – whether through education or work.

In some cases, two Red-White-Red card applicants with the same qualifications can get a different number of points– if one of them has spent time studying or working in Austria and the other hasn’t.

Start-up founders, for example, can get 30 points under the education part of the Red-White-Red points system if they completed their studies in Austria, compared to a maximum of 20 points someone else could get for the same qualification.

Recent graduates from Austrian universities have a year to stay in Austria to either find a job, or start a business. Those who don't often also have an easier time if they return to Austria later. Photo: Getty Images

Very highly qualified workers under the Red-White-Red points system can also get 10 points under work experience – half of the maximum total – for a mere six months of work experience in Austria, meaning that a short internship while completing education could qualify you. By contrast, every year of work experience gets you only two points. So it would take five years of work experience outside Austria to get someone the same number of points as six months of work experience within Austria.

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READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How entrepreneurs can get Austria’s Red-White-Red card for skilled non-EU workers

Applicants under this scheme can also get up to an extra 10 points for a qualification earned in Austria.

Meanwhile, people applying for a Red-White-Red card under Other key workers will have any previous work experience in Austria count for double the number of points as experience outside Austria.

So ultimately, even if you don’t get a job in Austria within a year of graduating, there’s still a bigger opportunity for you to come back later if you wish.

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