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Self-employed Key Workers

As a third-country national you can apply for a Red-White-Red Card for Self-employed Key Workers, if your self-employed occupation in Austria creates macroeconomic benefit going beyond its own operational benefit.

This may be the case if

  • your intended occupation involves a sustained transfer of investment capital to Austria amounting to € 100.000 minimum or
  • your intended occupation creates new jobs or secures existing jobs in Austria or
  • your establishment involves the transfer of know-how respectively the introduction of new technologies or
  • your business is of considerable significance for the entire region.

For self-employed key workers, there is no points system.

Where to file the application?

You are supposed to lodge your application for a Red-White-Red Card personally with the competent Austrian representation (embassy or consulate) in your home country or country of residence.

After legal entry and during legal stay you may submit your application directly with the competent residence authority in Austria (Provincial Governor/Landeshauptmann/Landeshauptfrau respectively the authorised Regional Administrative Authority/Bezirkshauptmannschaft Local Administrative Authority/Magistrat).

Which documents to submit?

  • Valid travel document (e.g. passport)
  • Photo (dimensions: 45x35mm) not older than six months
  • Evidence of health insurance covering all risks (compulsory health insurance or equivalent insurance policy)

The authority may also require you to submit other documents on a case by case basis.
For example, many authorities require the submission of an extract from police records (or a certificate of good standing) in case of first time applications. If this is submitted with the application it can help to speed up the application procedure.

In addition to the general requirements (see above), for the evaluation of the macroeconomic benefit, you are supposed to submit the following documents:

  • Documents which allow an analysis and evaluation of the market and competitive situation and the headquarter location, including a detailed description and the objectives of the intended professional undertaking (“business plan“)
  • Evidence of the transfer of investment capital to Austria and of the intended creation of new jobs or securing of existing jobs in Austria
  • Evidence of the qualification necessary for the self-employed professional activity
  • Possibly company agreements and/or
  • Craft authorisations (Gewerbeberechtigungen), where necessary
Please note:
You have to submit originals and copies of the above-mentioned documents. If the documents are not available in German or English, translations into German or English must be provided. For review purposes, the authority may eventually require legalized versions of the documents.

When will a Red-White-Red Card be issued?

The residence authority will forward your application including all submitted documents to the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS). The AMS will issue an expertise on the macroeconomic benefit of the intended professional activity within three weeks, especially regarding the transfer of investment capital and the creation and the securing of jobs.

If the conditions are met, the AMS will send a positive opinion to the residence authority. The residence authority will issue a Red-White-Red Card, if all general requirements (health insurance) are fulfilled. If the application is accepted, the Austrian representation will inform you accordingly. In case of visa requirement you will have to apply for a visa D to enter Austria in order to collect your residence permit from the residence authority.

The Red-White-Red Card is issued for 24 months and entitles you to fixed-term settlement and the pursuit of the self-employed occupation as described in the application.

Which residence title will be issued after two years?

As a self-employed key worker you will initially obtain a Red-White-Red Card, afterwards a settlement permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung) will be issued, provided that all legal requirements are met. The settlement permit entitles its holder to fixed-term settlement and the pursuit of the self-employed occupation.

After a completed total settlement period of two years you can be issued a settlement permit for three years.

Can Self-employed Key Workers take up an employed occupation?

In order to take up an employed occupation you would need to switch (“Zweckwechsel”) to a Red-White-Red Card for Very Highly Qualified Workers, Other Key Workers or Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations; in this case, you are supposed to meet the respective requirements, to achieve the number of required points and the applicant must prove a legally binding offer of employment.

Further information and useful links


  • Application: € 120
  • Granting: € 20
  • Costs of personalisation (fingerprints, scan of photography and signature): € 20


Laws and provisions


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