Scoring 46 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, Austria’s policies create slightly more obstacles to than opportunities for the full participation of non-EU immigrants in Austrian society. Austria’s integration policies score slightly below the average EU country and below the average Western European/OECD country.
Austria’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “Temporary Integration”. Non-EU citizens can benefit from access to basic rights and support for equal opportunities, but they do not enjoy the long-term security to settle permanently. Austria is one of the most insecure of the “Temporary Integration” countries, with policies most similar to those of Switzerland and Denmark. Major obstacles emerge in family reunion, access to nationality and political participation.
Non-EU citizens are left insecure in Austria, scoring 14/100 on security. It is the most insecure of all 52 MIPEX countries, alongside Switzerland and Denmark. Austria’s approach to equal opportunities is only halfway favourable for integration, with a score of 50/100 on opportunities: below the average Western EU/OECD country. Austria’s “Temporary Integration” approach encourages the Austrian public to see immigrants as foreigners and not as the equals of native citizens. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact with and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: halfway favourable: Permanent residents and residents on family reunion permits have equal access to employment as nationals. Limitations apply for access to the public sector and self-employment. Immigrants in Austria continue to benefit from general and targeted support, however non-EU migrant workers do not have the same opportunities for education, training or study grants as Austrian/EU citizens.
- Family reunification: slightly unfavourable: Austria's family reunion policy still ranks as one of the most restrictive (bottom 5) among MIPEX countries. Non-EU immigrants face restrictive conditions, e.g., on economic resources and in the definition of dependency. Families are expected to live up to standards that many national families could not, without enough support to succeed or exemptions for vulnerable groups.
- Education: halfway favourable: All migrant children in Austria benefit from access to compulsory education and general measures for disadvantaged pupils. Additionally, teachers are not required to be trained (in- or pre-service) to work in a multilingual diverse classroom, due to a lack of professional support to implement relevant programmes.
- Health: favourable: A strength in Austria, legal immigrants enjoy more favourable healthcare benefits than in nearly all other MIPEX countries. Legal migrants are treated the same as Austrian citizens under the conditions of the insurance-based healthcare system. Legal migrants and asylum-seekers can obtain information on health issues in several languages through websites, brochures, campaigns and individual services, although intercultural mediators are still rare.
- Political participation: unfavourable: Immigrants in Austria continue to experience unfavourable policies towards their political participation as they still have no voting rights, few local consultative bodies and weak support for immigrant organisations.
- Permanent residence: halfway favourable: Immigrants eligible for permanent residence face some of the most restrictive conditions in becoming permanent residents, including restrictive economic and language requirements. Permanent residents face a rather insecure status but equal socio-economic rights as Austrian citizens.
- Access to nationality: unfavourable: Immigrants' eligibility for Austrian citizenship is still unfavourable and remains Austria’s weakest point. Among the restrictive and unfavourable naturalisation requirements in Austria are those relating to language, good character, income and costs as well as a citizenship test. Austria is also one of the MIPEX countries resisting the trend towards full acceptance of dual nationality, forcing immigrants todenounce their prior citizenship in order to obtain Austrian nationality.
- Anti-discrimination: halfway favourable: Over the past decade, racial, ethnic, religious and, to a limited extent, national discrimination has been prohibited in most areas of life in Austria. However, equality bodies are only halfway favourable for helping victims, with weak quasi-judicial powers and no legal standing to start proceedings on victims' behalf.