Entry into Italy of EU citizens and their “family members”
The entry into Italy of citizens of Non-EU countriesThe entry into Italy of non-EU citizens is regulated by Italian laws (Legislative Decree 286/1998 - Testo Unico sull’Immigrazione) and EU regulations (EU Regulation No. 2016/399 – “Schengen Borders Code”). In general, the provisions require a non-EU citizen to obtain a visa to enter Italy, regardless of the length of stay.The entry visa must be applied for at the Italian diplomatic or consular offices where the applicant has his or her habitual place of residence. Following its issuance, the foreigner must enter Italy within the period of validity of the visa and formalize the application for a residence permit within 8 days of entry by appearing in person at the competent police department (Questura) in the place of residence in Italy or, depending on the type of residence permit to be applied for, at any post office in the territory, after filling out the relevant postal kit.
Types of visas and related residence permitsCitizens of any of the countries listed in Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001, are exempt from the visa requirement for entry into Italy for stays of less than 90 days. For example, included in the list are: United States, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela. The most common types of Italian entry visas are as follows:
• work visas (subordinate and self-employed)
• investor visas, and
• visas for elective residence.
The issuance of some visas (especially those for employment and self-employment) is subject to the provisions and procedures laid down in the so-called “Flow
Decrees” which are issued periodically to establish the number of entries for work in Italy, or “quotas,” available from time to time. This system, which is tied to the issuance of the “Flow Decree” and the availability of quotas to enter Italy for work, is extremely rigid in that despite the desire to enter Italy for work, the conditions for issuing a visa might not be met.
Entry visas for work purposes subject to the provisions of the “Flow Decrees” (employment-self-employment-start-up)
Employment visaThe procedure for this type of visa application is prece- ded by a request by the Italian employer to the compe- tent immigration office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione) for a certificate of no impediment (nulla osta al lavoro) and its subsequent issuance. The application for the certificate of no impediment must be accompanied by documentation pertaining to the work activity that the foreign worker is going to perform, the company that is intending to hire the worker, and the worker’s housing situation once he or she arrives in Italy. The employer submits a contract proposal in which he or she requests that the worker enter Italy to sign a contract of employment, which will be signed when the procedure has been completed and the worker has entered Italy with a regular visa. If the documentation submitted is in order and there are “quotas” available under the “Flow Decree” in force at that time, the competent immigration office will issue the work authorization in favor of the foreign worker who, by presenting himself at the Italian Consulate in his country of origin, will obtain the relevant entry visa and then the residence permit. The duration of the residence permit may vary from one year (fixed- term employment contract) to two years (permanent employment contract).
Self-employment visaThe self-employment visa must be applied for if entry into Italy is for the purpose of carrying out a professional activity, establishing a company, or investing in Italian existing companies.
According to the procedure, it is necessary to appoint an Italian representative to apply for a no impediment (entry clearance) (nulla osta provvisorio all’ingresso) at the competent police department, after preparing all the necessary documentation.
It is necessary to prove that the applicant meets the professional requirements as well as having housing at disposition and has an income higher than the mini- mum level required to benefit from free National Health Service assistance.
In the case of entry for self-employment, the duration of the residence permit may vary from one to two years.
Italia Startup VisaThe Italia Startup Visa provides for the issuance of an entry visa to those foreign individuals intending to set up a startup in Italy (or who are hosted by a so-called Italian “certified incubator”) with financial resources of no less than EURO 50,000. The application procedure, which is entirely telematic, is managed by the Ministry of Economic Development. The visa can also be applied for by those who invest at least EURO 100,000, and assume a managerial position, in an Italian “innovative” start-up that has been in existence for at least three years. The duration of the residence permit in this instance is for one year.
Visa for “highly skilled” self-employed or employed workers“Highly skilled” workers, both self-employed and employed, may enter Italy at any time of the year regardless of the “Flow Decrees” procedure, subject, of course, to possession of the relevant entry visa.
This type of visa applies to:
• executives or “highly specialized” personnel of companies with offices or branches in Italy
• executives or “highly specialized” personnel of representative offices of foreign companies having their principal place of business in a member state of the World Trade Organization
• employees of companies based abroad who are temporarily transferred to Italian companies to perform services under contract with another company.
The procedure, depending on the type of work to be per- formed in Italy, will be activated by the worker abroad or by the employer. The duration of the entry visa is one year and allows the issuance of a residence permit lasting one or two years depending on the type of work contract in Italy.
Law No. 25/2022 recently introduced a further possibility for entering Italy. According to the new rule, foreign individuals performing highly qualified work, even on a self-employed basis, through remote work may enter Italy without requesting a no impediment certificate. However, this provision requires a further decree that has not yet been issued to date.
Entry visas and residence permits for family members
Family entry visas may be issued to the spouse (married or civilly united) and the worker’s dependent minor or adult children. The issuance of the visa is subject to the conditions of income and housing. If dependent family members enter at the same time as the worker, they will need to obtain a personal no impediment certificate (nullaosta per familiare al seguito) issued by the com- petent immigration office. The no impediment certifi- cate will allow them, once in Italy, to obtain the relevant residence permit. The duration of the residence permit is linked to the duration of the residence permit of the family member who requested family reunion
The 2017 Budget Law introduced into Italian immigra- tion law a new type of visa for non-EU citizens intending to make a major investment or philanthropic donation in strategic assets for the development and competiti- veness of the Italian System. To specify, the visa can be issued for:
investment in government bonds for at least 2 million
investment in an Italian company for at least 500,000 Euros
investment in an “innovative” startup, as defined by Legislative Decree No. 179/2012, for at least 250,000 Euros
philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros in the areas of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, or conservation of cultural and landscape heritage.
The procedure for verifying the existence of the requirements is managed directly by the Ministry of Economic Development and is outside the ambit of the so called“FlowDecree”.
Familymembers of the investor visa holder, provided the conditions are met, may obtain a visa for family reunion purposes. The duration of the residence permit is two years and is renewable for another three years. Furthermore, Law No. 120/2020 introduced two important incentives specifically aimed at the so-called HNWIs. These are, namely, the possibility of making the above investments through an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) and the exemption from the obligation to spend a minimum number of days in Italian territory to maintain immigrant status.