News - Italy

Italy - March 2022

Business immigration in Italy - the routes to obtaining a working visa and residence permit

1 - Italian Working Visa and Residence Permit Under Entry Quotas

Non-EU citizens may obtain an Italian visa and residence permit upon meeting the conditions of the “Decreto Flussi”, a decree issued every year by the Italian government which sets out the specific and limited number (quotas) of extra EU citizens who may enter the Italian territory to work. (This decree is normally issued in in December each year).

In order to obtain an Italian working visa and residence permit for non-EU citizens under this quota system, the Italian employer must apply to  the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione (Italian immigration office):

  • A request for a “nulla osta al lavoro” (permission to work) which is granted within 60 days from the submission of the visa application;
  • Details of the employee’s accommodation in Italy;
  • A copy of the “contratto di soggiorno” (a residence contract) which shall be signed by the Italian employer and the non-EU citizen;
  • A written undertaking to notify the competent Italian authority of any change in the employment relationship.

Considering the limited number of Italian working visas and residence permits made available by the Italian government and the high number of applications submitted every year, it may not be possible to obtain a visa in the first instance through this route, despite meeting the above-mentioned requirements.

2 - Italian Working Visa and Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Workers - EU Blue Card

It may be possible to enter the Italy in order to work, irrespective of the entry quotas set out by annual Decreto Flussi, where an individual is employed as a highly qualified worker.

“Highly qualified workers” are external EU citizens in possession of:

  • A title of “istruzione superiore” (a higher education qualification) issued by the competent authority of the country where it was obtained, which certifies that a secondary level education course of at least three years has been completed; and
  • A high professional qualification (managers and middle managers, officers, etc.), attested by the country of origin and recognized in Italy. The professional qualification  must be retained while employed in Italy by the Italian employer.

However, neither Italian law or official guidance indicates whether “istruzione superiore” refers only to university degrees, or if whether high school diplomas are also included. 

In order to obtain the EU Blue Card:

  • The Italian employer should verify the f Italian workers, with equivalent professional characteristics are not available;
  • The employer should request the nulla osta al lavoro (permission to work) from the Italian immigration office ,  (normallya turnaround of 90 days from the date of the application);
  • The worker  then sends the nulla osta al lavoro (permission to work) to the Italian Consular Offices abroad to obtain the Italian working visa;
  • Once the worker has the nulla osta al lavoro (permission to work), they need to apply for the the EU Blue Card (residence permit) from the competent Police Office.

The duration of the Italian working visa and residence permit for highly qualified workers (EU Blue Card) is :

  • Up to Two years in case of indefinite-term employment contract;
  • Or, for the duration of the employment relationship in case of fixed-term employment contract.

The working visa and residence permit for highly qualified workers is also renewable.

3 - Intra-Company transfer visa and Residence Permit

It may also be possible to enter the Italy for work by being transferred by a foreign employer to work in its subsidiaries, branches or representative offices in Italy.

Non-EU citizens may apply for an intra-company transfer visa and residence permit if they:

  • Are employed as managers or specialized workers;
  • Have been employed by a company, established outside the European Union, for at least 3 months.

In order to obtain an intra-company transfer visa and residence permit:

  • The Italian host entity submits an application and the required supporting documentation to the immigration office, which will provide a permission to work  within 45 days from the date of the application;
  • The worker then sends  the nulla osta al lavoro (permission to work) to the Italian Consular Offices in the home country to obtain the intra-company transfer visa;
  • Within 8 working days from entering Italy, the worker must declare his presence on the Italian territory to the competent immigration office.

The maximum duration of the Italian VISA and residence permit under reference is  3 years.

4 - Italian Working Visa and Residence Permit For Posting of Managers Or Highly Qualified Workers

This is another Italian visa and residence permit, similar to the intra-company transfer visa and residence permit.

A non-EU citizen may enter the Italy in order to carry out working activities if they are transferred by  a foreign employer tow ork for its subsidiary, branch or representative office in provided that they:

  • Are in possession of specific knowledge and know-how;
  • Have been employed by a company, established outside the European Union, for at least 6 months, where they have carried out the same working activity that they will carry out in Italy, and where they hold the same position that will hold in Italy.

The application procedure is similar to the procedure to obtain the intra-company transfer visa and residence permit. 

However, while the maximum duration of the intra-company transfer visa and residence permit is 3 years, the maximum duration of the highly qualified   transfer route  is 5 years.

5 - Italian Working Visa and Residence Permit For Self Employment

It is also possible to obtain an Italian visa and residence permit for self-employed work in Italy.

 To qualify, the individual must be in possession of: 

  • Sufficient funds for the activities  to be carried out in Italy;
  • The qualifications required by the Italian law to carry out the specific activity;
  • A certificate from the competent authority, issued three months prior to the submission of the visa application, stating that there are no impediments for carrying out the relevant professional activity ;
  • Appropriate accommodation;
  • An annual income higher than the minimum level required for an exemption from healthcare expenses.

The worker may obtain an Italian visa and residence permit for self-employment on the basis of the conditions set forth by the Decreto Flussi (See 1. above). 

Applications for an Italian visa and residence permit for self-employment is expensive, time-consuming and requires additional applications (such as obtaining a VAT number).

Find out more

This article was produced by Tommaso Fonti - Head of International Taxation Dept and Chiara Marracino - Global Mobility Dept, at  Bacciardi Partners, Italy, a CELIA Alliance member firm.

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