Tag Archive for: Residence and Settlement Act (NAG)

Red-White-Red Card, Access to the Austrian Labor Market for Third-Country Nationals: Recent Amendments facilitate the award procedure for Employees and Employers

The Red-White-Red Card: residence title and employment permit

The Red-White-Red Card is an attractive residence title for qualified workers who can present a binding job offer from an Austrian company. The settlement authority and the labor market service check the qualifications on the basis of a catalog of criteria. For example, an applicant receives points for completed vocational training, a university degree, relevant work experience, and knowledge of German and English. The job offer and the future employer must also meet certain criteria (minimum salary, qualified and training-adequate position in the company, etc.).

Requirement: professional qualifications of the employee

The qualifications of the employee are evaluated according to a point scheme. If a worker achieves a sufficient number of points according to this points scheme, he or she can obtain a red-white card (residence title and employment permit). The prerequisite is a corresponding job offer from an Austrian employer.

The applicable points scheme for the award of a Red-White-Red Card is explained in detail at www.migration.gv.at. Although the criteria for the award of points are clearly and comprehensively regulated in the Foreign Employment Act (AuslBG), questions of interpretation repeatedly arise in administrative practice. For example, it is not always clear which professional education or training is qualified as “relevant to the field of employment” by the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS). Good preparation makes it easier for the immigration offices and the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS) to reach a decision quickly in favor of the applicant (skilled worker or company/future employer).

In the recent past, the Austrian legislator has repeatedly made adjustments to make the Red-White-Red Card more attractive for both employees and employers. For example, with the amendment to the Austrian Foreign Employment Act, Federal Gazette I 106/2022, the Austrian legislator created new, simplified framework conditions for the Red-White-Red Card, in particular a more favorable points system for skilled workers in shortage occupations.

Already two amendments of the rules concerning the Red-White-Red Card in 2023

 The amendment to the Austrian Foreign Labour Act (AuslBG), Federal Law Gazette I 43/2022, which has been in force since 21 April 2023, regulates access to the labor market for Ukrainian refugees who have a temporary right of residence in Austria on the basis of the Decree on displaced persons (Federal Law Gazette II 92/2022). It also provides for easier access to the Red-White-Red Card. Above all, more points are awarded in individual selection criteria (e.g. language, professional experience) than before. With the amendment, the legislator wants to counteract the shortage of skilled workers. The legislator has relaxed the criteria for issuing the Red-White-Red Card in order to facilitate access to the Austrian labor market for skilled workers from abroad. The parliamentary materials provide information on the legislator’s objectives and motives. The motive report is available online on the website of the Austrian Parliament (Link) and can be used as an argumentation aid, for example, in questions of interpretation.

Easier requirements since April 2023: new points scheme, consideration of English, French, Spanish, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian skills

Since the last amendment, points are awarded not only for German and English language skills, but also for language skills in the French, Spanish and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages. This facilitates labor market access for persons who have acquired language certificates or completed training in these languages.

Procedural simplifications since July 2023

Until the last amendment to the Act on the Employment of Foreign Nationals (AuslBG), BGBl I 84/2023, a positive decision by the Regional Office of the Foreign Labour Market Service (AMS) was required for admission as a key worker and thus posed a procedural prerequisite for the “Red-White-Red Card”.

The Constitutional Court overturned this regulation as questionable under the rule of law (VfGH 14.12.2021, G 232/2021-14). The legislator therefore had to amend the regulation within the period granted by the Constitutional Court.

Since this amendment, which entered into force on July 20, 2023, a key worker permit can also be issued if

  • the employment of the foreigner is necessary for particularly important reasons, in particular to preserve jobs of domestic employees or as a demonstrably qualified worker in a shortage occupation, or
  • public or supra-company macroeconomic interests require the employment of the foreigner.

This gives both the immigration offices and the administrative courts the option of admitting an employee as a key worker in the event of a negative decision by the Regional Office of the Austrian Labour Market Service.

The aim of these measures is to make it easier for qualified applicants to achieve the required points and to comply with procedural law, thus facilitating access to the Austrian labor market.

The changes are welcome for qualified professionals wishing to settle in Austria, for third-country nationals wishing to work in Austria and for Austrian companies.

We have already successfully assisted numerous clients in obtaining a Red-White-Red Card under the new legal situation.

If you need support, advice and representation in a procedure to obtain a Red-White-Red Card, we look forward to hearing from you!

Art 20 TFEU – Union citizens’ right to family reunification may also apply to Austrian citizens

In a recent decision we helped a family to legally lead their common family life in Austria. Through our support, we were able to obtain a right of residence for the mother of two Austrian citizens. The granted residence permit also provided for the mother’s access to the Austrian labor market. We are aware of the importance and scope of our advice and representation for the family life of our clients and their private and professional future in Austria. We are all the more pleased about the success!

“Family members” as defined by the Austrian Settlement and Residence Act (NAG) basically only spouses and minor children

Family reunification with access to the labor market in Austria is generally only accessible to the next of kin (spouses, minor children). Relatives who do not belong to this group (e.g. parents, children of full age) are in principle not legally entitled to family reunification or can at best only obtain a residence title without access to the labor market (“Settlement Permit – [Further] Relative”).

If there are valid reasons, e.g. on the basis of the fundamental right to protection of private and family life (Art 8 ECHR) or on the basis of the rights of EU citizens (Art 20 TFEU), the Administrative Court has – however only in extreme and exceptional cases – affirmed a claim to family reunification and access to the labor market also for distant relatives (e.g. VwGH 24.3.2022, Ra 2018/22/0093).

Vienna Administrative Court grants residence permit family member for mother of an adult Austrian reunifier

In complex appeal proceedings before the Administrative Court of Vienna, we successfully enforced a client’s claim for family reunification. The Administrative Court of Vienna announced the decision immediately following the court hearing on January 18, 2023 (VGW-151/080/9065/2022-25).

The special feature of the family reunification finally granted (issuance of the residence title “family member”) is that

  • the sponsor is an adult Austrian citizen, and
  • the reunifying mother has obtained a residence title “family member” entitling her to regular employment (and not merely a “Settlement Permit – [Further] Relative”, which categorically excludes gainful employment in Austria).

The Administrative Court of Vienna considered the special close relationship and the health-related dependence of the daughter on her mother as decisive for the right to family reunification.

It applied the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) to an Austrian citizen, although there was no so-called cross-border constellation (“freedom of movement constellation”).

The case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which we cited in the appeal proceedings, convinced the Vienna Administrative Court: “If a Union citizen (in this case the reuniting daughter) would be forced to leave the territory of the European Union in the event of a refusal of a residence title, close family members with whom the Union citizen has a dependent relationship have a right of residence (and access to the labor market).” Cf. ECJ 8.5.2018, K.A. et al, C-82/16; in Austrian court decsion VwGH 25.7.2019, Ra 2019/22/0017; on the assessment of the dependency relationship in detail also VwGH 17.6.2019, Ra 2018/22/0195).

No official appeal by the settlement authority (MA35) or the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI)

In the first-instance proceedings before the settlement authority (MA35), the authority still resisted and did not share our legal position.

After the decision of the Administrative Court of Vienna, the official parties (immigration office, in Vienna: MA 35; BMI) did not file an official appeal against the decision of the Administrative Court of Vienna. The official parties have thus conclusively accepted the legal opinion of the Vienna Administrative Court. This is a precedent-setting case, which will also point the way for future decisions of the Administrative Court of Vienna.

Living/working in Austria with residence title family members possible

In the meantime, the immigration office (MA35) has granted the applicant, i.e. the mother of the Austrian citizen, the residence permit „Family Relative“ applied for. The family can now live together in Austria. With the residence permit „Family Relative“, the mother has obtained a right of residence that entitles her to settle and work in Austria without the requirement for a work permit.

We are pleased that we have helped a family to live together in Austria in this way. This decision strengthens the right to family reunification and unity, fundamental rights and the rights of EU citizens derived from the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is to be welcomed in view of the general reluctance of the immigration offices to apply the case law of the ECJ on family reunification.

You are welcome to contact us if you are seeking family reunification with relatives and dependents from third countries and would like to obtain a suitable residence title in Austria for relatives from countries outside the European Union!

Long Duration of Proceedings in NAG Proceedings: Effective Protection?

Rihs: Effective Protection Against Undue Protraction of Proceedings [by Authorities and Administrative Courts] under the Settlement and Residence Act (NAG)? migraLex 2020, 42. (PDF-Version)

Time is money: Unfortunately, unpleasant delays occur every now and then, particularly in proceedings for residence permits under the Settlement and Residence Act (NAG). Although the general statutory decision period of 6 months and – in cases like student visas or red-white-red cards – even shorter decision periods apply to individual residence titles, procedures for grant of a residence title often take longer than the statutory period.

In a scholarly article written for the legal journal migraLex, Dr. Georg Rihs examines the question of the extent to which the protection against undue protraction of proceedings in Austrian General Administrative Procedure Law meets the requirements for procedures under the Settlement and Residence Act. Especially with regard to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR), the legal design of the protection against protractions and delays caused by an authority’s or court’s inaction is problematic in Austria. The legal remedies provided by the Austrian General Administrative Procedure Law to the administrative courts and requests for the setting of deadlines to the Administrative Court often – even conceptually – do not lead to the desired acceleration of proceedings.

The thorough examination of legal remedies for the enforcement of expeditious proceedings is important for our practical work as lawyers, because legal remedies for protection against undue delays must be used again and again in order to achieve and enforce the objectives of our clients quickly and within the required time.

The article also contains suggestions to the Austrian legislator to remedy defeciencies in the rule of law for the future and avoid practical problems in the enforcement of the law.

[Foto: needpix.com]