Tag: Austria

Job-Seeker Visa for Austria

Oliver is an American citizen and one of the best chefs on the West Coast of the United States. Although he does not have a college degree, he has learned his trade in the most distinguished restaurants in New York City and is currently the head chef at a newly opened French restaurant on the Upper East Side.

One of the service staff at this restaurant is Lisa, a tourism student from Tyrol, who is completing her four-month mandatory internship there as part of her degree.

Oliver and Lisa get along very well, meet each other even in their free time, and fall in love. When Lisa has to return to Austria at the end of her internship to continue her studies here, it is clear to Oliver that he will break camp in New York and follow her.

For Oliver, the question now is how he can come to Austria, find a job and an apartment here, and work legally. While researching on the Internet, he comes across the possibility of applying for a job-seeker visa and thinks that this would probably be the right thing for him. So he gathers his documents, goes to the Austrian Consulate General in New York to apply for such a work search visa, and thinks that it should be done in a few days. But it takes longer than expected and after a few weeks of waiting and several urgencies, Oliver finally receives the answer that his application has been rejected. What had happened?

Requirements for a job seeker visa

A job-seeker visa (category D visa) allows third-country nationals to stay in Austria for up to 6 months in order to find employment here. The prerequisite for this is that the applicant fulfils the general requirements for the issuance of a Category D visa. For this purpose, a valid travel document must be presented and comprehensive health insurance coverage, as well as sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the stay in Austria, must be proven. In addition, the person in question must also not be on notice for refusal of entry, the issuance of the visa must not pose a threat to public safety and order, and the applicant must not have committed any criminal acts that could create grounds for refusal of entry.

In addition, the applicant must also meet the admission criteria for particularly highly qualified workers. Here, the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS) assesses whether, based on education, work experience, age, and language skills, 70 out of a possible 100 points are met according to a certain point scheme. In general, this is only possible for persons who have a university degree, have worked in a management position, have German or English language skills, and are not older than 45 years.

After being granted a visa to seek work, the person in question is then allowed to stay in Austria for a period of up to 6 months in order to look for a job here. If a job is then found, however, this visa does not yet entitle the person to take up employment. For this purpose, a separate residence title must be applied for.

What alternatives are there to the job-seeker visa?

Citizens of many countries have the possibility to stay in Austria without a visa for a period of up to 3 months. This time can also be used to find a job in Austria. As long as the person concerned is staying in Austria legally, i.e. during his/her visa-free stay, the application for a residence title can be submitted directly to the immigration authorities in Austria. However, such a domestic application does not entitle the applicant to stay in Austria beyond the period of validity of his/her visa-free stay. Therefore, if the application has not been processed in time before the expiry of the 3 months, the person concerned must leave the country and await the decision of the authority abroad.

What does this mean for Oliver?

Since Oliver does not meet the requirements as a particularly highly qualified worker and a job-seeking visa is therefore out of the question for him, he simply decides to travel to Austria on the off chance to look for a job here. From the very first day of his stay, he applies to restaurants for a job as a chef and actually finds a position in a Tyrolean tourist resort after just one week.

His new employer already has experience in employing foreign workers, so he also applies for a Red-White-Red Card for skilled workers in shortage occupations for Oliver. Fortunately, Oliver’s application is processed relatively quickly and the necessary verification by the Austrian Labour Market Service is also carried out very quickly so that Oliver is issued a Red-White-Red Card as a skilled worker in a shortage occupation during his visa-free stay in Austria.

Oliver is happy to be with his Lisa again and he enjoys both, his new job and the beautiful Tyrolean mountains in his free time.

Residence permit for intra-corporate transferees (“ICT”)

Jason is a US citizen and has been working as a trainee in a large pharmaceutical company in the USA for 8 months. As part of his traineeship, Jason is required to work at a European subsidiary for at least 6 months in order to get to know the international orientation of his employer.

Jason is offered several traineeship positions in Europe, but he finally chooses Vienna because part of his family originally comes from Austria. What requirements does Jason now have to fulfill in order to start working as a trainee in Austria?

For whom is a residence permit for intra-corporate transferees possible?

Workers from third countries who work for an internationally active employer and are temporarily employed in one or more branches in an EU member state can obtain such a residence permit for a temporary stay without the intention of settlement. The prerequisite for this is that the worker in question is employed as a manager, specialist, or trainee. A specialist or manager must already have been employed in the company for 9 months (a trainee for 6 months) before the residence permit can be applied for.

What requirements must be met for a residence permit to be granted to intra-corporate transferees?

First of all, the applicant must be able to present an employment contract with the foreign employer and a secondment letter (working conditions for the duration of the transfer as well as a return guarantee for the foreigner to an establishment based outside the EU). This must also prove that the applicant can return to a branch of the company after the end of his/her secondment, which must be located in a third country (i.e. outside the EU).

The employer must comply with the minimum standards prevailing in Austria with regard to pay, leave, and maximum working hours and the employee must also be duly registered with social security. In addition, the establishment in Austria must not be affected by a strike, any existing requirements for exercising a regulated profession must be met and the employer must not have violated the provisions of the Employment of Foreign Nationals Act more than once in the last twelve months. Finally, the domestic branch must not have been established solely for the purpose of facilitating the entry of transferred workers, and the branch must be engaged in genuine business activity and must not be insolvent.

In addition, the general requirements for the granting of residence titles must be fulfilled (secure livelihood, health insurance, no threat to public security), whereby proof of accommodation customary in the locality does not have to be provided.

Where and how has the application for a residence permit for intra-corporate transferees to be filed?

The application must be submitted by the employee concerned in person to the Austrian representation authority abroad (embassy, consulate).  However, if the employee in question can enter Austria without a visa, the application can also be submitted in Austria at an immigration office.

Together with the application, an employer’s declaration must be submitted in which the employer provides more detailed information on the applicant’s business and planned employment.

After examining all application documents, the competent immigration authority has to forward the application to the Public Employment Service Austria (AMS), which prepares an expert opinion on the fulfillment of the labour market-relevant prerequisites. If all prerequisites are met, this expert opinion is forwarded to the immigration office, which then issues the residence permit.

Summary

For Jason, this means that he has to apply for a residence permit at the Austrian embassy in the USA before he enters the country and starts his traineeship in Austria. Documents such as the employer’s declaration or a secondment letter, which have to be submitted together with the application, will be provided to Jason by the Austrian branch of the company.

The authorities must make a decision on Jason’s application within 8 weeks of the application being submitted. Extensions of the residence permit are possible, but the total duration of stay may not exceed 3 years for employees transferred within the company and 1 year for trainees.

After overcoming all the bureaucratic hurdles, Jason can finally start his traineeship in Austria. As he really likes it in Vienna, he even extends it by another 6 months, for which he is quickly and easily granted an extension of his residence permit by the authorities.

The Integration Agreement in Austria

Persons who have legally settled in Austria should be integrated into Austrian society as quickly as possible. For this purpose, it is necessary both that integration support is offered and that the persons concerned actively participate in it. To this end, a system was created under the – misleading – term “Integration Agreement”, which is intended to ensure the acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the German language as well as of the democratic order and the basic principles that can be derived from it and prevail in Austria. However, this is not a measure in which persons immigrating to Austria can voluntarily participate, as the term “agreement” suggests, but rather an obligation that must be fulfilled in order to be granted or renew certain residence titles.

Following parents as an example

Oxana immigrated to Austria from Ukraine many years ago. In the meantime, she has already become an Austrian citizen and is also married to an Austrian. When Oxana and her husband, who are both employed, are expecting their first child, Oxana asks her mother from Ukraine to move in with her to Austria to help her look after the children. Oxana’s mother agrees and applies for a settlement permit “relative”, which gives her a temporary right of residence but no access to the labour market in Austria. Oxana’s mother has also completed a German course at the Goethe Institute in Kyiv before applying and can thus already prove basic knowledge of the German language at the A1 level of the European Framework of Reference.

Since she can also prove all other necessary requirements, Oxana’s mother is granted the applied-for settlement permit “relative”. Together with the issuance of the residence permit, however, she is informed that she is obliged to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement within 2 years. Should she fail to do so, her right of residence cannot be further extended after the expiry of these 2 years.

Module 1 of the Integration Agreement

There are a number of ways to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement. On the one hand, this can be done by passing certain examinations, namely by proving a successful integration examination at the Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF) at language level A2 or by proving an integration examination at the A2 level of the “Verein Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch” (ÖSD). On the other hand, Module 1 of the Integration Agreement can also be fulfilled by providing evidence of a certain level of education. This is possible either by providing proof of a school-leaving qualification equivalent to the general university entrance qualification or by providing proof of graduation from a vocational secondary school (such as a Fachschule or Handelsschule). In addition, persons who have been granted a Red-White-Red Card are automatically deemed to have fulfilled Module 1 of the Integration Agreement. Finally, Module 1 of the Integration Agreement is also considered fulfilled if Module 2 has been successfully completed.

Module 2 of the Integration Agreement

In order to fulfil Module 2 of the Integration Agreement, language skills at the B1 level of the European Framework of Reference must be proven. Unlike Module 1, however, there is no obligation to fulfil Module 2 in order to renew an existing residence title. Fulfilment of Module 2 is, however, a necessary prerequisite for the granting of an “EU permanent residence title” or, subsequently, for the granting of Austrian citizenship.

Like Module 1, Module 2 can be fulfilled by taking appropriate integration examinations at B1 level at the ÖIF or the ÖSD. In addition, Module 2 is also deemed to be fulfilled if the person concerned is a minor and attends primary or secondary school in Austria (if attending secondary school, the subject “German” must have been positively completed in the last school year), or by providing proof of a degree in the subject “German” at a foreign secondary school (whereby the lessons must have been attended for at least 4 years), or by providing proof of an apprenticeship-leave exam in Austria, or by providing proof of completion of at least 32 ECTS within the framework of a postsecondary study programme in Austria that was held in German. 

Exception for health reasons

Oxana’s mother has been staying in Austria continuously for almost two years due to her settlement permit for “relatives”. However, she has not yet managed to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement. On the one hand, she is busy looking after her grandchildren and, on the other hand, suffers from great exam anxiety. Is it still possible for Oxana’s mother to have her residence permit extended after two years, even if she cannot prove that she has fulfilled Module 1 of the Integration Agreement?

Persons who cannot be expected to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement due to their mental or physical state of health are exempt from this. This must be confirmed by a medical certificate from a public health officer. Oxana’s mother, however, has doubts as to whether her fear of exams is actually recognised as such a serious psychological limitation that it is actually confirmed as an exceptional reason by a public health officer.

Extension of the obligation to fulfil

Oxana’s mother also has the option of applying for an extension of the obligation to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement for up to 12 months. When deciding on such an application for an extension, the authorities must take into account the concrete circumstances of the third-country national’s life. In this context, Oxana’s mother’s multiple burdens with childcare and exam anxiety may very well play an important role. Even if Oxana’s mother cannot avoid the obligation to fulfil Module 1 of the Integration Agreement, she can gain up to one year’s time to take the required examination by applying for an extension of the obligation to fulfil.