Employing third-country nationals who currently live abroad

Candidates who are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and who do not live in Austria yet must apply for a residence permit before they can start working in Austria.

Austrian immigration process explained

Getting a work permits for a highly skilled international worker living abroad can be a confusing subject. In this video we summarise this process from an employers perspective in an easy-to-understand way.

Basics of immigration on the basis of work

Binding job offer

The basic prerequisite for the majority of residence permits is a binding job offer, signed by both you and your candidate. A work contract also works, of course! Please be sure to include your candidate's position in the collective bargaining agreement ("Einstufung in den Kollektivvertrag") your company pertains to.

Residence and work permit

All third-country nationals need a residence permit in order to live and work in Austria for more than six months. Most residence permits are work permits at the same time. On the back of every residence permit card, there is an official note on if and where the third-country national is allowed to work.

Austria offers several different types of residence permits. The type of residence permit not only depends on why this person is in Austria but also on many other factors, such as:

  • Nationality
  • Family status
  • Payroll (in Austria or elsewhere)
  • Planned salary
  • Planned duration of the stay
  • Qualifications
  • Age

It is prohibited to employ third-country national who do not have a valid residence permit!

The only exception are third-country nationals who are close family members (spouse, civil partner, etc.) of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens living in Austria. These individuals are privileged by EU law and have different rules applying to them. Find out more about the right to residence of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their families in Austria!

Expected duration of an immigration process

The immigration process a third-country national must complete may take several weeks, depending on which permit has been selected and if simultaneous family reunification is planned, for instance.

Authorities involved

Most residence permits require approval from several Austrian authorities. In any case, the Immigration and Residence Authority ("Aufenthaltsbehörde") is involved. Additionally, in many cases, AMS ("Arbeitsmarktservice", the Austrian Public Employment Service) plays a role in approving work permits.

Long-term employment under Austrian payroll

If you plan on employing a skilled third-country national in Austria long-term and under your Austrian payroll, the most common residence permits for this purpose are the so-called Red-White-Red Card as well as the Blue Card. Those permits are issued for up to two years and can then be extended, paving the way for your employee to stay and work in Austria for a long period of time. In those first two years, your employee is bound to you and cannot simply work for a different company.

A labour market test ("Ersatzkraftverfahren") is conducted by the Austrian Public Employment Service AMS as a part of processing certain residence permit applications. It implies that AMS verifies that no member of the Austrian labour market could fill your vacancy. However, several residence and work permits are processed without a labour market test.

Red-White-Red – Card for Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations

Red-White-Red – Card for Graduates

Red-White-Red – Card for Very Highly Qualified Workers

Red-White-Red – Card for Other Key Workers

Blue Card

Temporary employment

Do you plan on employing a skilled third-country national in Austria for a limited period of time? Please contact us directly. We will consult you on which permit to choose, what documents to submit, and many more factors. You may also check out our overview of permit options for short-term and/or limited employment types.

We support you every step of the way – free of charge!

Our immigration experts offer support before, during and after immigration processes. We are happy to answer all your questions and to help you and your candidate every step of the way. As we have an official mandate by the Austrian Government, all our services are free of charge.

Contact us