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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.5 Cross-border mobility programmes

Last update: 28 November 2023

EU programmes

Austria enables young people to volunteer abroad through participation in the EU Programmes Erasmus+ (Erasmus+) and European Solidarity Corps (Europäischer Solidaritätskorps). These programmes shall inspire active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance, and involve young people with the European Union. They encourage mobility, non-formal learning, intercultural dialogue and inclusion among young people.

On the national level, these programmes are implemented by the National Agency for Education and Internationalisation (Agentur für Bildung und Internationalisierung, OeAD) on behalf of the Federal government, particularly the Department for Family and Youth at the Federal Chancellery.

As part of the evaluation process, the National Agency for Education and Internationalisation (OeAD) publishes annual 'Facts and Figures' on Erasmus+ as well as extensive information material, evaluations, reports and thematic monitoring (Publikationen). According to the current report - edition 06, 2019/20 (Ausgabe 06, 2019/20) - a total of 4.061 projects were approved in the period 2014 - 2020, 147.493 mobilities were carried out and € 270.524.560 were granted (projects with higher costs than the available EU funds were approved and compensated by additional national funds from the Federal Ministry).

From 2018 - 2020, SALTO and the Intercultural Center(IZ) accompanied the implementation of the 'European Solidarity Corps' on behalf of the EU Commission (SALTO Resource Centre for the European Solidarity Corps). From 2007-2013, the Research-based Analysis and Monitoring of the Youth in Action Programme (RAY) took place. The monitoring was carried out by the Institute for Educational Science at the University of Innsbruck, the Institute for Generations and Educational Science in Austria and the Intercultural Centre, the National Agency at the time.

Furthermore, young people can serve as European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps (formerly EU Aid Volunteers) in third countries under the European Solidarity Corps. This programme brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries, providing practical support to humanitarian aid projects and helping to strengthen local capacities and the resilience of communities affected by disasters. Participants must be between 18 and 35 years old and have the nationality of an EU Member State or be long-term residents of the EU.

Other Programmes

  • The Austrian Service Abroad (Österreichischer Auslandsdienst) is a non-profit association recognised by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection that sends young people abroad as part of the Federal Volunteer Service or voluntary work. In doing so, it offers young Austrians, aged 18 and above, the opportunity to work in partner institutions all over the world within the framework of the Memorial, Social and Peace Service Abroad (Gedenk-, Sozial- und Friedensdienst im Ausland). The programme is funded by the Austrian government. In 2022, 129 volunteers performed service abroad.

    • The Social Service Abroad offers many different projects around the world, with a focus on countries in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. Depending on the place of assignment, volunteers are involved in different areas of work, such as supporting socially vulnerable people, environmental projects and the economic development of the host countries. Within the framework of international development cooperation, social service volunteers can perform their civilian service abroad for 12 months.
    • The aim of the Austrian Peace Service is to support people in their efforts against conflicts and tensions. In this regard, peace service workers participate in projects to secure peace in conflict areas by analysing the human rights situation, organising workshops and trying to implement measures such as mediation between the conflict parties.
    • The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service mainly deals with the victims of National Socialism. Service staff work in Holocaust memorial sites, museums and historical research institutions such as Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. Their tasks include designing and organising guided tours, processing archives, giving lectures at universities and schools and interviewing contemporary witnesses in order to preserve their experiences for future generations.
  • The independent non-profit association 'Memorial Service' (Gedenkdienst) organises Holocaust memorial service placements around the world. Within this framework, the association enables around 20 dedicated people to carry out a memorial service abroad. This is done at Holocaust memorials, educational institutions and care facilities for contemporary witnesses in Europe, Israel, South America and the USA.
  • The publicly funded Austrian NGO 'Limitless' (Grenzenlos) offers volunteers from the age of 18 onwards a variety of programs with the main goal of promoting peace and tolerance through international non-formal education programs. In this context, it coordinates, among others, volunteer programs such as ICYE (International Cultural Youth Exchange) (18 - 35 years), ESC (18 - 30 years) and Discover (18 - 49 years), promoting voluntary engagement of young people abroad.
  • 'Volunteering moves' (Volontariat bewegt) is an initiative of Youth one World (Jugend eine Welt) and the Salesians of Don Bosco (Don Bosco Salesianer). The organisation is supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) as well as private and church initiatives and offers voluntary services in Latin America, Asia and Africa for young people.
  • DKA Austria is the development cooperation agency of the Catholic Children's Movement of Austria (Katholische Jungschar). It facilitates placements and volunteer posts in partner organisations for 3 months and longer. Voluntary placements are meant for people of at least 20 years of age interested in development cooperation.

Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers

Young people who are neither EU citizens nor other EEA citizens or Swiss nationals need a residence permit for a voluntary service in Austria lasting longer than three months.

If the general conditions are fulfilled (with exception of proof of accommodation pursuant to §11 section 2 no. 2 NAG) and the third-country national will be working within the framework of the European Voluntary Service, the 'Residence Permit Volunteer’ (Aufenthaltsbewilligung – Freiwilliger) is usually issued for 12 months (see further on validity of residence permits). An agreement with the host organization must be submitted to complete the voluntary service. This agreement must contain a description of the voluntary service and information on its duration; information on the conditions of the activity, in particular on the volunteer’s supervision and service hours; as well as information on the resources available to provide the volunteer’s subsistence and accommodation, including pocket money. Furthermore, if applicable, information on the training that the volunteer will receive to carry out the service properly must also be included.

The residence permit can be applied abroad at the respective Austrian representative authority (embassy or certain consulates) and in person at the responsible settlement authority (responsible settlement authority) in Austria.