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I'm Egyptian and currently working in Austria under a work permit which is restricted for 4 months, the length of the contract. If they are happy with me, my employers will prolong it. I started 2 months ago, and have been doing good a type of electronic circuit design and embedded software. The direct manager was happy, and said to me "Wow! So fast!!" for some of my tasks, and other very good words.

I had a meeting with the CEO last month. He asked me - how do you like the work ? I told him - it's good, I like the manager, the environment,..etc. Then he said - You have to push your self more, you are just working by 70-80% percentage. I was shocked, and upset by these words. He also added - I know that you have a lot of knowledge, I also asked the direct manager to give you lots of work packages!!!

Currently the situation is worse - they don't invite me for meetings, I don't know if it is because of the language or not. The direct manager doesn't care about me, there is just about one month and a half and the contract will be ended, and we agreed they may renew or not, but they didn't talk with me at all, and I must get a renewal to renew my work permit. I don't know what to do, should I talk with them? I want to understand why they are treating me like this.

How can I approach resolving this situation with my superiors?

Update:

I'm still waiting for the end of the contract and I'm very patient about them. Now the situation is more worse, today my line manager told me do whatever you like regarding tasks, he doesn't talk with me anymore regarding any task or about the project, he just talks with other engineers ;(. This is really unbearable and I hate that treatment.

  • I think there is a more general question here. I have tried to bring that out in my edits to the question, but I feel it could be improved further without disrupting the useful background to Mahmoud's question. – Mark Booth Mar 6 '13 at 13:30
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1) Check your contract

Try to find what it says about:

  • Contract Renewal/Termination Notice (if they need to give notice before firing you or not renewing your contract)
  • Employer's Termination Rights (if they can fire you for not having a proper visa)
  • Any Obligations on Non-Renewal (see if they are obligated to pay for your plane fare home depending on how the contract ends, and if you have any additional obligations to the employer)

Make sure that you have prepared for the worst-case scenarios: not having your visa renewed, and having your contract expire/be terminated.

2) Check Austrian Visa Requirements

I am not familiar with Austrian visa requirements (and they differ by country, industry, etc. generally), but for many countries the visa is not actually tied to the employer. In other words, you need to have a sponsor to get the visa, but losing the job with the employer does not necessarily mean you lose the visa.

I would confirm the Austrian regulations and/or call the immigration service in Austria to find out what the status of your visa is if your current contract gets terminated for whatever reason. The best-case scenario is that you learn you have 8 months left on the visa to find similar work in Austria, and can start looking 6 weeks early. The worst-case scenario is that it is tied to your employment and you should plan to leave in 6 weeks if required.

Be sure to ask if there is a grace period after the employment ends to move out of the country. The last thing you want is the contract ending on a Friday, and having to leave the same day with all your stuff.

3) Talk to your Boss

Once you know what your legal requirements are in regards to employment and living/working in Austria, it's time to talk to your boss.

Be positive! Explain the good things -- that you like working there, you want to keep working there, and that you enjoy the company and the country (assuming it's an Austrian company and an Austrian boss). Explain that your contract is ending in 6 weeks, and what you found out from 2) above about visa requirements and how challenging it will be if your contract doesn't get renewed.

I would make a simple request: if you guys want to renew my contract, could I please have a signed copy of the renewal in 2 weeks?

4) Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, because of stringent visa requirements for people from less developed countries to the EU/US/Japan especially, many employers will take full advantage of highly educated candidates by paying them less, working them harder, and then getting rid of them. I am not saying your employer is going to do that, but be prepared for the worst.

Whenever working in a foreign country, it is most important for you to understand better than your employer about what your rights are in regards to employment and residency in that country, so that they lose some of their ability to take advantage of you.

For instance, in Japan, many employers will tell their (foreign) employees that their work visa is tied to employment, and if they ever break the contract the employer can get them deported. This is not true, but it scares a lot of new people with no Japanese skill in to continuing with less-than-ideal working conditions because they feel they have no choice.

Do not let an employer take advantage of you, and make sure you understand your situation well enough to feel comfortable even in the worst-case scenario. Moving to another country is stressful enough without having to worry about visa requirements.

Good luck!

  • 3
    An excellent, professional, detailed answer which demonstrates why this question isn't too localized. Well done. – Mark Booth Mar 6 '13 at 13:46
  • 2
    Wonderful answer – HLGEM Mar 6 '13 at 19:41
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Something to consider here is how each person may have a different view of you and your work. The direct manager has his perspective and likely knows better what you are doing day in and day out while the CEO may have been trying to encourage you to do more though not necessarily in the best way.

While you do have 6 weeks left on your work permit, have you considered what kind of deadline you want to have to know whether you'll be staying or not? While I'm not familiar with the culture in Austria, I do know that in North America to make a move from one country to another isn't that simple of a thing to do and thus I'd want to have a month's notice or more if I'm not going to be staying where I am which did happen when I worked in the US for a number of years though I am a Canadian citizen that was a temporary worker there.

I'd suggest talking with the direct manager of how are things going and set up some time to know whether or not they are satisfied with your work enough to keep you for another 4 months or some other time period. Note what are the expectations and see what happens. There is the possibility that some of what you completed quickly could have been viewed by the CEO as being simple work that should be done that fast and so it isn't that impressive to him. Different people will see things differently. Ask the manager if there are meetings where it may be worth you coming to hear what is said as some meetings may be getting missed though I suspect the issue here is how well does the manager and CEO choose to motivate someone. Some people will give you a challenge as a way to get you to improve yourself and give 110% for a project. Others may use words of appreciation and affirmation to motivate a person and each can work depending on the circumstances.


If they were really unhappy with what you've done, I suspect they would have had meetings to set performance targets and state that they aren't satisfied with your work. That doesn't seem to have happened.

The Four Agreements may be something to consider where here is the text of each agreement:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

Just an idea for something to consider that may help you.

  • I'm now very depressed, even while coming back home was crying and I lost the trust in myself so much. I don't know what to do – Mahmoud Mar 5 '13 at 21:13
  • or they would not care and wait for the contract to be finished then say bye bye. – Mahmoud Mar 5 '13 at 21:23
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    @Mahmoud Consider that the CEO probably doesn't even know you. His statement may be the same statement he tells everyone in an effort to get them to work harder. Your manager is seeing you nearly every day, between your manager and your CEO, your manager is making the informed comment, while your CEO is likely making a comment that generally applies to anyone he meets. Also, you should not believe that this contract will last any longer than promised. You need to protect yourself from disappointment in getting exactly what was promised (4 months). – Edwin Buck Mar 5 '13 at 21:30
  • @EdwinBuck So my feels are right that they won't prolong it correct ? – Mahmoud Mar 5 '13 at 21:36
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    @Mahmoud You cannot know another person's mind. Don't think it will be prolonged, and don't think it cannot be prolonged. Don't think you know why it would be prolonged. Don't think you know why it won't be prolonged. Just work as if you are there to do a good job, and look for something after the contract (to avoid being an emotional slave to that company). If you show your weakness for needing this job, this company will reward you with constant fear that you won't have the job (which will make you want the job more, possibly even at a lower salary). – Edwin Buck Mar 5 '13 at 22:45
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Ask your direct manager about the feedback you got from the CEO. I don't know how they come up with a measurement of how much you designed or their ability to compare to someone else. Your direct manager may be able to explain. Sounds like they're applying production metrics to a creative process.

Let them know you want to stay and get feedback on what you need to do to make that happen. I hope you're not in a situation where they don't have enough work or large enough budget to maintain your position.

There are some extenuating circumstances regarding your legal status that they should take into consideration. They should be upfront if they have no intentions of renewing your contract, so you can try and find another job. Unlike full-time employees there are no legal ramifications for not renewing (Maybe this is different in Australia?). Failure to give you enough notice is unprofessional and cowardly.

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    Definitely good advice to talk to your direct manager. This CEO might say "you have to push yourself more, you are just working at 70-80%" to everyone, just to try to make them work harder. Your direct manager should know if this is the way the CEO works. – Carson63000 Mar 5 '13 at 23:58
  • @Carson63000 - direct managers have to be concerned with using scare tactics since they're the one who will have to find a replacement. – user8365 Mar 6 '13 at 19:39
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Mahmoud, relax my friend. Whatever happens, will happen for the best. If they will keep you, why worry, if they wont, why worry. If you worry this will hamper your current skills and may create real problems even if none exist now. So far, my gut says you are staying. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. If I were you (I am not from America, but I work here so I know how challenging all this can be), I would do these :

  1. Make sure I know exactly how long it takes for the job permit to be extended ?
  2. Start looking at the job market and see if there are other opportunities.
  3. If things start getting worse, actively search for other employment.
  4. If you have knowledge and are good at what you do, hopefully you shall not have too much problem
  5. Forget about what CEO says, he may be least interested in your day to day activities. If your direct manager is friendly, you can strike up a casual conversation in a lighter mood and say 'hey did you know it takes 3 weeks to renew work permit in Austria ....'etc.. and cleverly put in 'I either have to pack my bags after 4 weeks or rush to arrange for the extension, would you suggest a way I can be prepared for either or'. I feel this will let the cat out of the bag at least somewhat. This is just me, and I would have definitely done this.

Good luck

  • 1
    No offense @happybuddha but there are many many reasons to worry, and what your 'gut' says about the problem will not stay the hand of immigration authorities or pay for an emergency move back to Egypt from Austria. "Hope for the best" is a good attitude only when coupled with "Prepare for the worst". Otherwise you end up thinking everything is peachy until you find yourself in a cell awaiting deportation. – jmac Mar 7 '13 at 2:10
  • You are so wise jmac ... am sure you have read all that I wrote and are not otherwise jealous of my gut :) – happybuddha Mar 7 '13 at 14:11

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