Working as a Foreign Student

The rules and perks of jobbing through college in Keys to the City

Changes in the immigration law dating from last June are having a large impact on foreign students looking to work in Austria.

Under the new system, students from outside the EU who have graduated from Austrian universities, colleges of higher education (Fachhochschulen), or accredited private universities, and have a job offer in Austria can apply for the “Red-White-Red Card”, a combined residence and employment permit.

This means that graduates with Austrian Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees and an offer for a job paying at least €1,904 gross per month (excluding holiday payments) will no longer need to periodically renew their visa.

Previously, permits were pinned to job offers paying at least €2,460 a month – and then were granted only if the Public Employment Service (AMS) concluded that there were no Austrians qualified for the position. The assessment process often meant that employers were reluctant to consider foreign graduates in the first place.

The new conditions still aren’t perfect. Recent graduates may struggle to meet the requirements for an initial, six-month residence permit for job seekers: guaranteed means of subsistence of at least €815 a month, health insurance coverage, and a rental contract for accommodation of a  suitable size (a bizarre clause aimed at preventing overcrowding).  Also, the card is bound to a specific job; changing jobs requires a new application.

Still, there are benefits: After just 10 months of continuous employment based on the Red-White-Red Card, graduates qualify for an upgrade – the “Red-White-Red Plus Card”, providing unlimited access to the Austrian labour market. Just don’t ask for air miles.


For further information contact:
Expat Center Vienna
1., Schmerlingplatz 3, (01) 4000 86 949,

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