You enrolled in a local university, studied hard, finished your degree and now want to continue your stay in Austria? Maybe you want to get a job or start a business? What opportunities is Austria offering to international students and graduates of Austrian universities?
Austria allows international students to work and start a business after finishing university. They can extend their residence permit for a maximum of 12 months to find a job. After receiving a job offer, graduates can apply for a long-term residence permit Red White Red Card. This rule applies to Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs graduates.
In the end, your future plans will depend on the nationality of graduated students. Austria has different regulations for EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens, plus Romania and Bulgaria. In this article, we look closely at your possibilities in Austria as a fresh graduate.
Work or Start a Business After Graduation in Austria
Since the 1st of May 2011, graduates from the EU/EEA states and Switzerland enjoy free labor movement and may take up any employment in Austria without the need for a permit.
Students from non-EU/EEA countries and Croatia
1. Job search after graduation
In Austria, countries outside of the EU/EEA zone are called “third.” Third-country graduates who have successfully finished their degree studies in Austria can, after the expiry of their student visa, reside for a further 12 months in Austria to search for employment or start a business.
They must apply for confirmation by the competent residence authority (MA 35). This has to be done before the expiry of the student visa.
After successfully finding the job, you can apply for an Austrian work visa – Red White Red Card.
The biggest advantage for graduates is that they don’t have to go through a labor market test and points system as regular applicants do. It makes the whole process much easier. Besides, you will have a high success rate than other candidates and spend less time.
Graduates from Croatia have freedom of settlement but aren’t entitled to unlimited labor market access as EU/EEA members. They are eligible to apply for an employment permit without a labor market test.
2. Receiving an employment offer
After third-country graduates find the job they were looking for in these twelve months, they can easily apply for RWR (Red-White-Red) Card. This permit allows you to settle temporarily (for 24 months) in Austria and work for the employer specified in your application.
After it expires, you are eligible to apply for Red White Red Card plus. This permit entitles you as a non-EU/EAA national to a fixed-term settlement and unlimited labor market access (as self-employed or employed, not limited to a specific employer). Red White Red Card plus will be valid for one year.
The main requirements you need to fulfill to get a residence card, and work permit are to find employment matching your qualification and prove a minimum salary of 2,349 EUR per month. With 3,629 EUR as the average salary in Austria, it must be an easy task to do.
However, since October 2022, it’s no longer required. Graduates just need to earn to present a salary that is stated in their job contract by the collective agreement. Most salaries in Austria are regulated by such agreements. Read more about the changes.
You can also check other general Red White Red Card requirements on this website.
Until 2014 graduates from Romania and Bulgaria couldn’t work without a permit; fortunately, Austria has opened unlimited access to the labor market.
Changes in immigration law from October 2022
To make the employment of non-EU citizens easier and more straightforward, the Austrian government implemented some changes to immigration law in October 2022.
That said, the application process for a Red-White-Red – Card or EU Blue Card will be more quickly in the future.
For example, IT professionals can now work in Austria on EU Blue Card without official related studies; they just need three years of work experience.
Previously, Austrian authorities required an EU Blue Card with a minimum salary of at least 66,593 EUR per year for applicants to grant a residence permit. Now, this threshold was reduced to 44,395 EUR gross per year.
Furthermore, an applicant category Key Workers has two different wage requirements: one is for people below the age of 30 and one for 30 and older. Now, the government has eliminated a higher minimum salary for applicants who are older than 30. Now people of age have to present a salary of 2,835 EUR and above.
Besides that, the minimum salary for graduates of Austrian universities isn’t longer applicable. Now, they must have a wage that corresponds to related collective agreement and common local pay.
Start a Business After Graduation
The process of starting your own business after graduation is pretty much the same as finding a job. EU/EAA members won’t need a permit and could start GmbH or self-employment immediately.
Non-EU/EEA citizens and Croatian graduates will face more hurdles. Non-EU/EEA citizens can renew their student visa for a period of twelve months to start a business, but they need to fulfill the general requirements such as:
- Health insurance coverage
- Financial proof of 966,65 EUR per month * 12 = 11,600 EUR
The process is mostly the same; you will need to apply for the Red-White-Red Card. In this case, you will fall into the Self-employed Key Workers and Start-up Founders categories.
Health insurance for Austria
In Austria, private health insurance is often cheaper than a public one. Students can take out coverage with Care Concept for a very reasonable price (51 EUR per month). It’s one of the best insurance for international students and expats in Austria.
Moreover, their packages are 100% valid for visa and resident permit applications. I used the Care Austria package for my resident permit application and kept the insurance for the three years I lived in Austria. I never had any problems with it. All my health expenses were reimbursed within a short period.
You can also find suitable health insurance coverage on Austria’s biggest comparison website Durchblicker. Durchblicker is just a convenient tool with no additional or hidden costs. Signing for the policy is possible right on their website. Read over 1,400 positive reviews on Trustpilot, where Durchblicker receives a 4,8 rate.
Self-employed Key Worker requirements
To be eligible for the Red-White-Red Card for Self-employed Key Workers application, your self-employed occupation in Austria must create macroeconomic benefit for the country; it could be achieved by meeting these criteria:
- Your investment capital is a minimum of 100.000 EUR or
- Your business creates new jobs or secures existing jobs in Austria or
- Your establishment involves the transfer of know-how and the introduction of new technologies or
- Your business brings considerable significance for the entire region
Start-up Founder requirements
You can set up a start-up in Austria only if your goal is to establish a company to develop and launch innovative products, services, processing methods, or technologies on the market. Additional requirements:
- Submit a consistent business plan for establishing and running that company
- You carry out a controlling influence on the management of the newly set-up company
- The company’s capital must be 50,000 EUR and above, with an equity share of at least 50%
- Score a minimum of 50 points according to the following criteria with a maximum of 85 points
You can see a point system here as well as a complete list of required documents.
Where To Work after Graduation in Austria?
Generally, all jobs which meet your qualifications and interests are suitable. If you are an EU/EAA citizen, there is no restriction on the type of job; it can be in a different field that you have studied for.
For non-EU/EAA applicants, it’s more complicated or almost impossible to be employed in another field for at least the first 24 months. Your work permit requires a match between qualifications and a job offer.
What are the most common jobs in Austria?
- marketing assistant
- business project manager
- web developer
- business consultant
- social worker
What are the most in-demand jobs in Austria? Read in this article.
Also read: How to get a job in Austria if you don’t speak German.
What is the average salary in Austria?
Austria is one of the highest-paid countries in Europe. According to the statistics, the average salary is 58,171 EUR gross, the minimum monthly wage is 517 EUR, and the maximum is 16,910 EUR. The employee receives payment 14 times per year.
- Engineer – 61, 094 EUR
- Manager – 79,288 EUR
- Project Manager – 74,247 EUR
- IT-Manager – 72,900 EUR
Can you bring your relatives to Austria?
Yes, you can move with your family to Austria if you are self-employed or holder of a Red White Red Card/plus, EU Blue Card, settlement permit, and settlement permit.
It also applies to special cases of work visas and settlement permits; for instance, researchers’ families are eligible for Red White Red Card plus. Persons who can apply for this permit:
- registered partners and
- unmarried minors, including adoptive and step-children
Spouses and registered partners must be 21 years of age or older when applying.
Can you work part-time?
If you are from EU/EAA countries – you can work part-time after graduation. There are plenty of part-time job offerings. Non-EU/EAA citizens can’t work part-time unless they find a desirable offer with a salary of 2,349 EUR since it’s a requirement for a Red-White-Red Card.
If they decide to reduce the number of working hours after receiving a permit, they may lose eligibility as their salary might no more fulfill requirements.
Where Else Can You Stay after the Graduation?
In Australia, international students can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which allows them to stay in Australia for 2-4 years after they’ve graduated.
The duration of stay depends on the degree: students with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can stay for two years, a master’s degree for three years, and a doctoral degree for four years.
After graduating from a German university, international students can extend their student visas for 18 months. Same as in Austria, this period allows them to find a job that fulfills their qualifications.
After finding a job, graduates can apply for a German residence permit or EU Blue Card. These resident permits will be valid for up to 5 years.
International students who study in Canada can apply for the Post Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to stay for up to three years. After they graduate, they have six months to apply for this.
Foreign graduates can apply for a program called Optional Practical Training while still staying on their student visas. It allows students to work in the US for 12 to 36 months, depending on their study area.
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