Increase the attractiveness of the Red-White-Red Card for Startups
In order to establish Austria as an international competitive innovation hub, it is essential to enable startups to hire international talents without bureaucratic hurdles. Even though updates were initiated in 2019, the red-white-red card does not yet meet international standards. Due to a still too high minimum salary, a compulsory university degree as well as a slow and time-consuming processing procedure, Austrian startups have a significant disadvantage in recruiting international specialists. The talented software developers and digital marketing specialists, which startups utterly need, are being increasingly trained outside the conventional university system and are often ready to accept a lower salary if they get the option of company shares of the startup in return. Furthermore, the red-white-red card is too inflexible for the needs of startups and their employees: changing the job within the first 24 months is possible only after a renewed application is reviewed once again by the AMS.
Our concrete recommendation:
We suggest a real and significant upgrade of the red-white-red card: potential employees of growth-oriented startups should be able to obtain a residence permit within a short period of time. Hereby, a completed higher education degree must not be a compulsory criterion anymore and the required minimum salary should be reducible through employee stock ownership plans. Furthermore, employees should be able to change their employers without bureaucratic interference. When it comes to recruiting international specialist, Austria is competing on a European level. Therefore, the decision-making process must drastically be accelerated. This means that qualified talents should receive a decision/notification whether their visa will be granted or not within two weeks after filing the application. Best practice concepts from abroad prove that this time frame indeed is feasible. In Berlin, for instance, the Business Immigration Service (BIS) was set up as a new central advisory center. Companies now receive a notification within five days as to whether their skilled workers are to receive a visa or not.