Politics For Members

How the ÖVP wants to make it harder for foreigners in Austria to access benefits

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
How the ÖVP wants to make it harder for foreigners in Austria to access benefits
Austria's ÖVP wants to restrict access to benefits for foreigners. Image: moerschy / Pixabay

A draft of ÖVP's Future Plan 2030 – a document outlining proposed policies for the coming years – details planned changes to Austria’s welfare system, which would affect international residents.


The Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), which currently leads a coalition with the Green party, shared a draft version of its anticipated Future Plan 2030 with APA on Monday (August 14th), including a chapter on social benefits for immigrants.

The document says Austria should "continue to be able to give everyone in the country the support they need", while also stating that foreigners should live in Austria for five years before being eligible to claim benefits, reports Der Standard.

Furthermore, the principle should apply "that only those who have previously paid into the Austrian social security system have full entitlement to social benefits". 

READ ALSO: Unemployment benefits in Austria: Who is eligible and how much can you get?

The ÖVP also wants to reform the social benefits system so that only those "who really need it" can access state support, instead of “those who call for it the loudest and are the most creative in getting social benefits".

Part of the reason for the proposed reforms of the social benefit system is that government spending has risen sharply in recent years and the "high quality of the domestic social system must be preserved", according to the document.

At the moment these are just proposed changes from the conservatives and it's unclear if they will be taken forward by the government. 

Chancellor Karl Nehammer, of the ÖVP, first outlined his position on several policies, including restricting access to social benefits for international residents, during a keynote speech in March titled Future of the Nation.

At the time, the party's coalition partner - the Greens - reacted negatively to the plans saying Austria must offer “attractive conditions” so that people actually want to live and work in Austria.

So it's likely that these proposals will receive more pushback. 

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Who can currently access benefits in Austria?

Currently, gaining access to unemployment benefits in Austria does not depend on depend specifically on someone's nationality.

According to Austria's employment service (AMS), people are entitled to benefits if they meet the following conditions: 

  • They are able to work, willing to work and unemployed
  • They have registered as unemployed with their local AMS
  • They are employable in the labour market
  • They are willing to work at least 20 hours per week (unless they have specific childcare obligations)
  • They have worked for a certain period subject to unemployment insurance (Anwartschaft)
  • The maximum period of entitlement to unemployment benefits has not expired

Here's how long you need to work in Austria for entitlement:

  • In general, you must have worked 52 weeks in the last two years, subject to unemployment insurance (regular and registered part and full-time employment are subject to this insurance)
  • If you are applying for unemployment benefits for the second time or more, 28 weeks of work in the last year is also sufficient
  • If you are under the age of 25, 26 weeks of work is enough, even if you are applying for the first time

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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.



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