Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Austria 2014

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Austria has low levels of labour migration from non-EU/EFTA countries. At the same time, intra-EU free mobility has grown significantly and since 2011, overall migration for employment is above the OECD average. It recently reformed its labour migration system, making it more ready to accept labour migrants where they are needed, especially in medium-skilled occupations in which there were limited admission possibilities previously. This publication analyses the reform and the Austrian labour migration management system in international comparison.


Temporary labour migration to Austria

Most labour migration to Austria is temporary. Flows are equivalent to 0.5% of the labour force, which is above the OECD average. The by far largest component of temporary labour migration is seasonal labour, accounting for well above two thirds of all temporary flows. Following the end of the transitional arrangements to nationals from the central and eastern countries which joined the European Union in 2004, numbers of admissions of seasonal workers have dropped significantly as these nationals working in seasonal employment no longer require a separate permit. Further categories of temporary labour migration include intracorporate transfers and posted workers, where numbers are small, as well as researchers, artists and a sizeable other category. Common to most of these categories is the fact that they cannot be transformed into a permanent residence permit – although technically, temporary residence permits may be renewed indefinitely upon expiry. Another important component of temporary flows is the many international students who are not considered labour migrants but have some work rights. The bulk of working international students go into low-skilled occupations in the hospitality and cleaning sector.


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