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Red White Red Card- What you should know

Especially if you want to work in Austria or if you want to hire a skilled worker from abroad for your Austrian company, this can be a challenge. On the one hand, it is important to consider the legal aspects of residence. On the other hand, the labor law aspects and the employment law for foreigners must be taken into account. With the Red-White-Red Card system, Austria wants to enable companies to bring qualified workers from third countries into the country.

Even though the procedure is often described as cumbersome and impractical, we have already successfully assisted numerous employers and foreign candidates to work together in Austria. On this page we want to give some basic information about the system.

What is the Red-White-Red Card?

The Red-White-Red Card (RWR Card) allows professionals who are neither Austrian nor citizens of an EEA state to come to Austria and live and work here for a period of more than 6 months. It must be applied for before taking up work and is issued in the format of a card for a period of up to 24 months if all requirements are met. It is possible to get an extension of the RWR card later (see below for details).

There are several types of RWR cards, which differ in the requirements that must be met. In addition, RWR cards that allow foreign professionals to work for an Austrian company must be separated from those that allow independent work.

RWR cards for dependent/employed work:

  • RWR card for Very Highly Skilled Workers;
  • RWR card for skilled workers in shortage occupations;
  • RWR card for Other Key Workers.

RWR cards that allow independent/self-employed work:

  • RWR card for self-employed key workers;
  • RWR card for start-up founders

In this blog article, we focus on RWR cards for dependent work. However, you are very welcome to contact us for more information about RWR cards for self-employed work.

Who is eligible for a Red-White-Red card?

Candidates from third countries must – to put it simply – have skills and knowledge that are hardly or not at all available on the Austrian market. This opens up opportunities to come to Austria under the RWR card system.

In order to objectively assess the suitability of foreign talent, Austria has introduced an evaluation system in which points are awarded: There are different types of Red-White-Red Cards, where emphasis is placed on different skills and characteristics of the candidate. In order to be eligible for a Red-White-Red card, candidates must usually have

·        relevant education (especially university degrees) or work experience;

·        earn a certain minimum salary;

·        demonstrate language skills at a specified level in German and/or English (through appropriate language certificates);

·        the age of the candidate can also play a role.

Only if the candidates meet the prescribed minimum scores, taking into account these and other criteria, will an application be successful. Different types of Red-White-Red cards require different scores, e.g.

  •  the RWR Card for Particularly Highly Qualified Persons: 70 out of 100 possible points;
  •   the RWR Card for Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations: 55 out of 90 points;
  • the RWR card for Other Key Workers: 55 out of 90 points.

Which authorities are responsible?

The procedures are led by the regionally competent immigration authorities (local district administrative authorities; in cities such as Vienna, the competent municipal departments). The professional suitability of the candidates is also assessed by the regionally responsible offices of the Labor Market Service.

For some types of Red-White-Red Cards (e.g. “Red-White-Red Card for other key workers”), the Public Employment Service also checks whether the position in an Austrian company can really be filled by a foreign skilled worker. Or whether there are already qualified candidates in Austria who could also fill the position. This assessment by the Labor Market Service is called a “labor market test”. Often, forward-looking and precisely coordinated argumentation is required to show why the desired foreign specialist should be given the position in the company instead of a domestic specialist.

How long does the process take?

The authorities must make their decision within eight weeks. This period does not begin until a complete application package is submitted. If documents are not yet complete when the application is submitted (e.g. because the authorities still have queries), the deadline does not start until everything has been submitted subsequently. In practice, it is not uncommon for procedures to take about 4 months. This should be taken into account in your own personnel planning and in your communication with potential candidates. Under no circumstances should the foreign specialist start working before the necessary permits have been issued!

How long is the RWR card valid for?

The RWR card is initially issued for 24 months for work at a specific company. Subsequently, if the requirements are met (esp. employment for at least 21 out of 24 months), a “Red-White-Red Card plus” with 36 months of validity can be issued. This RWR card plus opens the entire Austrian labor market to the foreign skilled worker. They can therefore work for any company in Austria and even be self-employed.

Can holders of a Red-White-Red Card also bring their family members to Austria?

Yes! Candidates who are granted an RWR card can bring their family members to Austria. They will then receive a “Red-White-Red Card plus” for 1+1+3 years – if the relevant requirements are met – and can also pursue self-employed or employed work in Austria.

What support does Law&Beyond offer in the application process?

·        Review and examination of the documents of current and, if applicable, future candidates for fulfillment of the requirements for the application (fulfillment of the minimum points according to the legal examination scheme);

·        Coordination of the necessary documents for the application;

·        Assistance in obtaining apostilles (certification marks for international documents) and certified translations, if necessary;

·        Preparation of a comprehensive application package with detailed documentation (in particular, justification of why the foreign candidates would be more suitable than those already registered with the AMS as job seekers);

·        Accompanying the candidate to the authorities for the personal application or taking over the written application on behalf of the employer;

·        Taking over the communication with the authorities (including the persistent follow-up in order to get an answer in a timely manner);

·        Permanent contact person for questions from employers or candidates;

·        After issuance: Reminder service for the application for the renewal of the RWR card.

We are your reliable partners if you are interested in a Red-White-Red Card in Austria. We will gladly advise you and clarify with you the perspectives and concrete possibilities in your case. Together, we will determine whether you meet the requirements for a Red-White-Red Card for particularly highly qualified persons, skilled workers in shortage occupations or, for example, other (dependent) key workers.

Our team will support you in demonstrating that your stay or that of your future employees will be a benefit for Austria. We are looking forward to meeting you!


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