The federal coalition of the turquoise and green parties, in power since the beginning of the year, has named its agenda “Accountability to Austria” (Aus Verantwortung für Österreich). This agenda includes general legislative projects affecting labor law, such as a minimum wage for industries not covered by collective agreements, and the specific goal of reforming and modernizing global mobility in employment. This article outlines the plans with the greatest foreseen influence on the employment of foreigners, especially changes to the Red-White-Red card, so that companies can prepare for the new policies well in advance.

The Red-White-Red card is a visa to enter the Austrian labor market, and is reserved for highly qualified persons, skilled workers in shortage professions, and other key workers from third countries, who have specific qualifications such as professional experience and language skills. For years, experts have cited the need to further develop the Red-White-Red card, and streamline the approval process, as the number of skilled workers in Austria continues to dwindle. The new federal coalition appears ready to take on the challenge of facilitating labor immigration.

The first step is to simplify the Red-White-Red card process. Currently, employers and applicants must file applications in person, but in the future they will be able to do so online. The proposed online platform would ideally be a centralized place for them to receive individual status updates, thereby reducing administrative workload.

The coalition also aims to relax Red-White-Red card requirements, in order to attract international individuals and companies to Austria. They have proposed lowering the minimum salary limits for critical skilled workers, re-evaluating the points awarded for professional experience and other qualifications, and removing the local accommodation requirement. Until now, applicants have had to secure and provide a signed rental or ownership agreement as part of the initial application.

In addition to modernizing the application process, and expanding the pool of potential applicants, the coalition also proposes expediting the approval procedure. Instead of checking eligibility requirements one at a time, in a linear fashion, these requirements can be checked simultaneously, in a parallel fashion. Part of the procedure involves investigating whether a particular job could be filled by an Austrian employee, or an already-integrated foreign employee, instead. This “substitution check” will also be expedited and streamlined. How exactly the new federal proposals for the Red-White-Red card will be implemented through the law is still being addressed.

The turquoise-green government would like to extend these priorities of modernization, easier access, quicker approval times, and less bureaucratic red tape to other visas and permits as well. They have promised to change the procedures for residence permits for intra-company employee transfers (ICT), and visas for business travelers. Developing online resources for visas and German language skills would facilitate family reunification. Other specifics of this general agenda to increase global mobility are yet to be determined.

While no concrete laws have yet been passed to implement the new agenda, the coalition has clearly expressed its intention to promote global mobility by making it easier for foreign employees and business to come to Austria.