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Topic Immigration and the world of work

Globalisation and interculturalism increasingly characterise today’s society. Intercultural competence is more and more seen as an important and future-oriented key skill. Public discourse, however, frequently focuses on the conflicts, misunderstanding and prejudices resulting from the fact that people of different ethnic origin and culture live and work together. But the building of closer ties provides just as many opportunities as well: opportunities to learn from each other, to open up one’s own horizon for new and unknown developments and thus improve one’s understanding for other people.

The reasons why people leave their home country either permanently or temporarily to live and work in another country are manifold:

  • to escape from war, political and religious persecution
  • to look for improved living conditions, work and earning opportunities
  • family reunification
  • to attend education or training programmes, also within the framework of exchange programmes
  • to gather experience abroad, within the framework of training or trainee programmes
  • to improve language skills
  • being sent to a company branch abroad as an employee
  • to take advantage of career and professional development opportunities
  • etc.

This list gives an idea of the variety of motivations why people leave their home country. However, according to definition, immigration is a permanent transfer of residence (and therefore not a temporary stay abroad for study or work purposes, au pair work, or seasonal work).

Statistical data. 151,000 people immigrated to Austria in 2013 (17,500 of which with an application for asylum), in the same year 96,000 emigrated (22,000 of which Austrians). Source: Statistik Austria

Law governing the employment of foreign workers (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz, AuslBG).

This law governs the employment of people without Austrian citizenship. Depending on preconditions, different permissions for access to the Austrian labour market can be issued:

  • Restricted employment permit (Beschäftigungsbewilligung),
  • Red-White-Red Card, Red-White-Red Card plus, EU Blue Card,
  • Posting permit (Entsendebewilligung) or confirmation of notification (Anzeigebestätigung),
  • Permanent residence EU (permanent residence EC): unrestricted access to the labour market combined with right of residence of unlimited duration,
  • valid work permit or valid certificate of exemption (Befreiungsschein): have been no longer issued since 1 January 2014
  • and others

One of the listed authorisations has to be available before the start of employment, i.e. before work is started.

The following people are excepted from the Law governing the employment of foreign workers (list not exhaustive):

  • EEA and EU citizens and Swiss nationals (for citizens from new EU member states – currently Croatia – transitory provisions apply),
  • foreigners who have been granted asylum in Austria by an official decision,
  • people granted subsidiary protection who have had this status for more than a year (rejected asylum seekers who, for various reasons, cannot be deported, e.g. because there is war in their home country),
  • foreign husbands/wives and minors (up to the age of 21) of Austrians, EEA citizens or Swiss nationals,
  • members of certain occupational groups, e.g. diplomacy, teachers and researchers, care workers (applies with various restrictions to people from the new EU member states).

This means that these people can take up employment without further authorisation in the same way as all Austrians.

A wide range of integration programmes and support schemes have been set up for young people and adults with a migration background (such as language courses, multicultural projects, legal advice and support for immigrants) that aim to enable and facilitate entry to social and professional life.

More detailed information has been compiled in the following document: Immigration and the world of work  Immigration and the world of work

Informationen und Links

Beratungszentrum für Migranten und Migrantinnen (Counselling Centre for Immigrants)

Integrationsfonds Österreich (Austrian Integration Fund)

Platform with information about immigration and integration