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Start-up Founders

As a third-country national you can apply for a Red-White-Red Card for start-up founders if you

  • establish a company in order to develop and launch on the market innovative products, services, processing methods or technologies 
  • to that end submit a consistent business plan for establishing and running that company
  • personally exert controlling influence on the management of the newly set-up company
  • prove capital for the company to be founded amounting to € 30.000 minimum with an equity share of at least 50 %
  • can score 50 points minimum according to the following criteria

Eligibility criteria for start-up founders



Maximum allowable points: 30

Completed vocational education/training or special know-how or skills in the prospective occupation


Completed programme of a minimum duration of three years at an institution of tertiary education


Completed diploma programme or Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s degree programme or vocational education/training in Austria


Work experience according to qualification

Maximum allowable points: 10

Work experience (per half-year)


Language skills

Maximum allowable points: 15

German: intensified elementary use of the language (A2 level)


German:  independent or intensified independent use of the language (B1-B2 level)10
English: intensified independent use of the language (B2 level)10
German: competent use of the language (C1-C2 level) 15
Bonus points

Maximum allowable points: 30

Evidence of additional investment capital of € 50.000 minimum


Admission to a business incubator or funding by a start-up funding agency in Austria


Age up to 35 years10

Sum total of maximum allowable points:


Required minimum:


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 the authorized Regional Administrative Authority/Bezirkshauptmannschaft or 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) 
  • As evidence of completed vocational education/training: relevant certificate or diploma 
  • As evidence of special know-how or skills
    • testimonial or training report and 
    • work certificate
  • As evidence of a completed programme of a minimum duration of three years at an institution of tertiary education:
    • document furnishing proof of successful completion of that programme and
    • document reflecting the status of the university or other institution of tertiary education
  • As evidence of a completed diploma programme or Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s degree 
  • programme or vocational education/training in Austria:
    • document furnishing proof of successful completion of that programme or
    • apprenticeship certificate
  • As evidence of work experience:
    • testimonial and
    • work certificate
  • As evidence of language skills in German or English: an internationally recognised language diploma or language course certificate furnishing proof of these skills
  • Evidence of investment capital including available equity
  • As evidence of admission to a business incubator or funding by a start-up funding agency in Austria a contract with the relevant institution 
  • A business plan and documents as evidence of the innovational character of products, services, processing methods and technologies
  • As evidence of controlling influence on the management of the newly set-up company the articles of association of the company, except for one-person companies
  • Evidence of the qualification necessary for the self-employed professional activity
  • craft authorisations (Gewerbeberechtigungen), where necessary (if already available)

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.

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 within three weeks an expertise on the macroeconomic benefit of the intended professional activity, in particular regarding the transfer of investment capital and/or 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 the applicant 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 twenty-four months maximum and entitles you to fixed-term settlement and the pursuit of a self-employed occupation.

Which residence title will be issued after two years?

As a start-up founder you will be awarded a Red-White-Red Card for the first two years, and subsequently a Red-White-Red Card plus, provided that all legal requirements are met. The Red-White-Red Card plus entitles you to fixed-term settlement and unlimited labour market access (self-employment and gainful employment not limited to a specific employer).

Can Start-up Founders take up an employed occupation?

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

Example „Start-up Founders“

Akina Sukihara from Tokyo is a 29-year-old Japanese master-graduate in
engineering.She wants to create an innovative robotic hand which
is new in Austria. In order to found her own company in Austria she has
already developed a coherent business plan and owns seed capital of 100.000 €.

She applies for a Red-White-Red Card for Start-up
Founders and receives 20 points for her master's degree
and 10 points for her age. She already has two years
of work experience in engineering and English language
skills at level B2. For her work experience she is granted
4 points and 10 points for language skills. She can also
prove sponsorship worth € 60.000, for which she receives
another 10 points.

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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