In 2021, Austria received 74 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 17% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 62.9% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 2.8% labour migrants, 17.1% family members (including accompanying family) and 16.5% humanitarian migrants. Around 4 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 18 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 221 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, a -5% decrease compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Germany, Romania and Syria were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Syria registered the strongest increase (+9 600) and Hungary the largest decrease (-500) in flows to Austria compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 180%, to reach around 106 000. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (24 000), India (19 000) and Syria (19 000). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of India (+18 000). Of the 39 000 decisions taken in 2022, 42% were positive.

Emigration of Austrian citizens to OECD countries decreased by -5% in 2021, to 16 000. Approximately 36% of this group migrated to Germany, 17% to Switzerland and 13% to Türkiye.

The reform of the Red-White-Red-Card on 1 October 2022, which entitles the holder to fixed-term settlement and employment by the employer specified in the application, aimed to simplify labour market access for qualified third-country nationals and address the shortage of skilled workers. Key changes included the introduction of a new category for regular workers, allowing the inclusion of seasonal workers who meet specific employment criteria. Minimum wage requirements were adjusted and abolished for university graduates. Required language diplomas were extended from one to five years in validity. The reform streamlined the application process through the expansion of the “Work in Austria” unit into a service centre for the R-W-R-Card and the EU Blue Card. Furthermore, the R-W-R-Card was aligned with the EU Blue Card, making it easier for applicants to meet the requirements. The reform introduced the possibility of simultaneous application for family members, relaxed points allocation criteria and less stringent requirements regarding documents and certificates. Amendments were made to facilitate work permits for artists and specialists on projects.

Since 21 October 2022, all third-country nationals legally residing in Austria can apply for their first R-W-R-Card. This expands the eligibility beyond highly qualified persons and includes skilled workers, university graduates, and other categories.

From 1 January 2022, a new Registered Seasonal Worker Regulation allows certain seasonal workers to obtain work permits without a labour market test and to be exempt from the quota system. Additionally, the list of shortage occupations expanded to 68 shortage occupations nationwide, 21 more than the previous year. A new R-W-R-Card category was created for tourism, agriculture, and forestry workers. Quotas in tourism and agriculture were increased by another 1 000 places in May 2023. The minimum capital requirement for start-up founders decreased from EUR 50 000 to EUR 30 000.

On 1 December 2022, a supplementary agreement to the Agreement between the Federal State and the Provinces on Basic Care came into force. It introduced for an increase of certain maximum cost rates for monthly allowances for housing and care in individual and organised accommodation (first increase since 2016), retroactively applied from 1 March 2022. In addition, the Federal State agreed to cover the costs for the initial care of displaced persons in the arrival centres of the Federal Provinces by granting a fixed contribution.

German language courses across Austria have been significantly expanded. Free courses are offered daily at different skill levels, including specialised courses for specific industries.

The EU Blue Card Directive was incorporated into national law on 1 October 2022. These changes simplified certain aspects, such as professional experience requirements or change of employer. Individuals granted asylum or subsidiary protection status, previously excluded, can now also apply for an EU Blue Card. Amendments were also made to the regulations governing the documents and certificates required for EU Blue Card applications.

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