On 1 October 2022, the largest legislative reform of the Red-White-Red Card and the EU Blue Card in Austria in recent years came into force. Even if the changes only seem to affect some details at first glance, in individual cases they can have a great influence on whether an application can be successful or not. Especially in the case of the EU Blue Card, there are considerable facilitations for applicants. The most important changes are listed below.
Changes in the minimum payment for other key workers and graduates
Up to now, graduates had to prove a minimum gross monthly salary of € 2,551.50 in order to apply for a Red-White-Red Card. This threshold is now dropped. All that has to be proved is a salary according to the applicable collective agreement (which is obligatory anyway) plus a possibly existing overpayment customary in the company.
The distinction between applicants under and over 30 years of age when applying for a Red-White-Red Card as other key workers has been abolished. The lower minimum salary of € 2,835.00 per month (value for 2022) now applies regardless of age.
Introduction of a Red-White-Red Card for regular employees
Persons who have worked as registered seasonal workers in the same economic sector for at least seven months in the past two calendar years can obtain a Red-White-Red Card, provided they can prove German language skills at A2 level and the employer holds out the prospect of a permanent employment relationship. A labour market test is not required.
Simplifications in the points system of the Red-White-Red Card
Achieving the required points according to the corresponding points system for the issuance of a Red-White-Red Card (Annex A, B and C to the Act on the Employment of Foreign Nationals) will be made easier. From now on, half-years of work experience will also be counted, language certificates to be submitted may be up to 5 years old, and skilled workers in shortage occupations will now receive the highest possible number of points in this category for having completed training in the shortage occupation. Furthermore, additional points are awarded if the predominant company language is English and other key employees do not have to provide evidence of work experience adequate to their training, but any kind of work experience is to be valued accordingly.
Strong upgrading of the EU Blue Card
The most far-reaching changes are brought about by the legal reform for the EU Blue Card. First of all, the minimum salary to be proven for the issuance will be reduced from one and a half times to the simple average Austrian gross annual salary. In 2022, this means a gross annual salary of € 44,395.00 plus special payments. However, the Federal Minister of Labour and Economic Affairs has been given the option of raising the minimum salary requirement to the previous level in the event of an above-average increase in wages or an unfavourable situation on the labour market,
In addition, an EU Blue Card for IT specialists will be introduced. For this purpose, no university studies need to be proven, but three years of relevant professional experience acquired within the last seven years prior to application is sufficient.
In addition, holders of an EU Blue Card now have the advantage that they can change their employer relatively easily after a period of employment of 12 months. No labour market test is then required and the new employment may also be taken up immediately, even before a decision has been made on the application for the new EU Blue Card. If the applicant has not yet been employed for 12 months, the new employment may only be taken up after 30 days from the date of application.
Furthermore, holders of an EU Blue Card have 6 months from the loss of their job to find a new job before the AMS has to send a notification to the residence authority that the requirements for the issuance of the residence title are no longer met.
The reform of the law also makes things easier for self-employed persons. For example start-up founders only have to prove a capital of € 30,000.00 (instead of € 50,000.00 as before) for the issuance of a Red-White-Red Card, half of which must be equity capital. In addition, holders of a Red-White-Red Card, an EU Blue Card or a Settlement Permit for Artists are allowed to pursue a self-employed gainful activity in addition to their main activity, provided that this is subordinate to the actual employment and the legal requirements for exercising it are met.