In 2020, Austria received 63 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -23.5% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 70% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 7.4% labour migrants, 11.4% family members (including accompanying family) and 10.9% humanitarian migrants. Around 2 200 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 9 300 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 232 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -28% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Germany, Romania and Hungary were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Syria registered the strongest increase (2 100) and Romania the largest decrease (-2 800) in flows to Austria compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 200%, to reach around 37 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (16 000), Afghanistan (7 800) and Morocco (1 800). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Syria (10 600) and the largest decrease nationals of Russia (-20). Of the 19 000 decisions taken in 2021, 65% were positive.

In January 2022, the revised shortage list for red-white-red (R-W-R) cards came into force, extending the federal list by 21 occupations. With the exception of Vienna, individual provinces added other occupations to their shortage lists in recognition of local conditions.

A reform package of the R-W-R-Card, the system in place for the recruitment of (highly) skilled third-country citizens, is planned for summer 2022. The aim is to accelerate the one-stop-shop (while procedures still remain with the residence authorities and Public Employment Service) and establish a digital platform via the existing Austrian Business Agency (ABA-Unit “Work in Austria”) to provide co-ordinated information and support services to potential employers as well as job seekers. A monitoring system will control the duration and efficiency of search processes using digital procedures, thereby reducing bureaucracy and speeding-up matching. Some aspects of the reform package were in place by the end of 2021, with the expectation of being in full operation by mid-2022.

The existing Austrian Business Agency has been linked to EURES and can thus access job offers anywhere in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. This will be an important facilitator for job-matching of migrant workers and especially of Ukrainians in their current situation as displaced persons.

In December 2021, an amendment to the Foreign Worker Act was accepted by parliament, facilitating access to annual employment permits for third-country “permanent” seasonal workers who work regularly (three years within the last five years: 2017-21) in tourism or agriculture/forestry. Until end of 2022, “permanent” seasonal workers may register for their special status with the Public Employment Service. These registered seasonal workers may access seasonal work for a maximum of 9 months without labour market testing. They are not included in the seasonal worker quota. Within the reform package of the R-W-R-Card of summer 2022, it is planned that this group of workers may even apply for a special Red-White-Red Card under facilitated conditions if a few additional requirements have been fulfilled.

In March 2022, implementing an EU Council decision, the Austrian Government introduced regulation to issue, upon application, special residence permits to displaced persons from Ukraine receiving relevant temporary protection in Austria. Since then Austrian employers may be issued work permits for holders of such a residence permit without labour market test/quota.

For further information: | | |

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at