Immigration in Italy and visa application
Febbraio 27, 2022
  • EU citizens

EU nationals do not need a residence permit to stay in Italy since they are part of Schengen Area. The Schengen Agreement signed on June 14, 1985, is a treaty that led most of the European countries towards abolishment of their national borders, to build a Europe without borders known as “Schengen Area”. Signed in Luxemburg, initially by only five EU countries, the agreement remains one of the world’s biggest areas that have ended border control between member countries.

Schengen Area covers most of the EU countries, except Ireland and the countries that are soon to be part of: Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Although not members of the EU, countries like: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are also part of the Schengen zone.

Therefore, EU nationals can stay in Italy without any requirement for 90 days. If the stay exceed this limit, the European citizen must ask for registration in the Civil Registry under specific conditions.

  • Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens may enter Italy for stays not exceeding 90 days, provided that they hold both a valid passport and, if required by their country of origin, an entry Visa.
As soon as foreign nationals enter Italy they should apply for a residence permit based on the same motivations specified on their entry Visa.
A residence permit is not required for business, tourism, short visits or study, provided that the stay does not exceed 3 months. In this case, the non-EU citizen must declare his presence in Italy within 8 days from his arrival.

For stays that exceed 90 days, non-EU citizens are subject to a Visa requirement.

Visa options

There are many types of Visas, depending on the purpose of your stay. Please find below most common Visas related to business people.

  • Investor Visa

The “Res non dom” tax regime does not include an outright Visa grant for the only fact of moving your fiscal residence in Italy. However the 2017 Budget Law has introduced a quicker process to obtain Italian entry Visas and resident permits for foreign investors (and their relatives), the Investor Visa, which is a Visa for individuals that can be obtained by:

  • purchasing 2 million euro in Italian government bonds (to be kept for a period of at least two years); or
  • investing 500,000 euros in an Italian company or 250,000 euros in an Italian “innovative start-up” (which can be your company or start-up); there is no requirement that the business was already active prior the application. During the whole Visa period the applicant must hold the investment in Italy; or
  • donating 1 million euros in philanthropic projects of public interest.

Applications for the Investor Visa are filed online with the Ministry of Economic Development (MoED). The processing time associated with getting the Investment Visa approved can be as little as 1 month.

The new Investor Visa is not subject to any immigration quota restrictions, is granted for a two-year period, and can be renewed for three years. Family members of the investor will be entitled to obtain a “family connection” Visa granting residence with the investor.

After five years of legal stay and provided the eligibility requirements are met, a foreign national can apply for permanent residency i.e. EC residence permit for long term residents, valid indefinitely.

In addition to this favourable fast-track procedure, there are other ways of obtaining an Italian Visa for business or residence purposes that will be outlined below.

  • Elective Residence Visa

This type of Visa is based on the demonstration that enough passive income is owned in order to sustain life in Italy.
Specifically, the required income is approximately 31,000 euros per year for individuals. Married couples will have to add an additional 20% to that number, plus an additional 5% per child.

The resources can be various, from financial resources to rentals and pensions.
Accommodation can be rented, with no need to purchase a property which, however, if owned, can definitely contribute to the income resources.

Elective Residence Visa does not allow its applicants to legally work in any way, shape, or form. This is a Visa for people who intend to reside in Italy permanently, not short term or even up to a year.

Although ERV does not require specific investments in Italy as the Investor Visa, applicants must submit tax returns, certified bank statements, as well as confirm their intention to live permanently in the country without working.

  • Start-up Visa Programme

This special type of Visa has been introduced to attract entrepreneurs intending to relocate to Italy to set up an innovative start-up business (under law 221/2012) or to join an already established start-up company. It grants the use of “Made in Italy”, one the most trusted brands in the world.

The applicant must prove the availability of at least 50,000 euros, which are to be invested in the creation and the day-by-day running of the new innovative start-up, and submit a detailed business plan for an “innovative” project with a strong character of technological innovation.

Alternatively, to be granted the Visa, the non-EU citizen must assume the position of chairman/CEO/member of the board of directors/auditor in an innovative start-up that has been established for at least three years and prove he/she has financial availability of at least 100,000 euros (or equivalent in other currencies), arising from their own resources, to invest in the innovative start-up. In addition, they are required to work as self-employees for the company (i.e. as independent consultant, etc.)

An “innovative” project is identified by at least one of the following criteria:

  • at least 15% of the greater value between annual costs and turnover can be attributed to R&D activities;
  • at least one third of the total workforce are PhD students, holders of a PhD or researchers; or, alternatively, two thirds of the total workforce must hold a Master’s degree;
  • the enterprise is the holder, depositary or licensee of a registered patent (industrial property), or the owner and author of an original registered software.

The programme guarantees a streamlined application procedure, with an online clearance application and the issuance of a visa and residence permit under the fast-track procedure. Start-up visas are subject to availability of immigration quotas issued yearly by the Government.

  • Business Visa

If the non-EU citizen do not have the opportunity to get a Start-up visa, but still intends to carry out some activities in Italy, he/she can register an ordinary company. In this case, Business Visa allows the foreign owner or employer to relocate to Italy in order to establish a branch or a representative office locally or, alternatively, to become Managing Director of an Italian based company which has been active for at least three years.

With few exceptions, Italy allows foreigners to register a new company entirely owned by foreign individuals or companies. SRL is the most common type of companies (limited liability company) and requires a minimum € 10,000 of registered capital.

There are not specific requirements in terms of capital or turnover and the company can immediately hire non-EU employees, without the need of hiring a certain number of local workers (Blue Card permit). However, such option is applicable only for highly skilled workers who have at least a 3-years university diploma and who are offered a minimum salary of € 25,000 per year.

  • Visa for self-employment reasons

Visa for self-employment reasons can be requested to carry out non-occasional self-employment activities of an industrial, professional, artisan or commercial nature; to set up a corporation or partnership; to take corporate roles. Foreign nationals appointed as officers (Chairman, CEO, Member the of the board of directors, Auditor) of Italian companies (Srl, Spa) in activity since at least 3 years can apply for this Visa.

General eligibility requirements are:

  • have suitable accommodation in Italy;
  • have financial resources exceeding the minimum level set by the law for the exemption from healthcare contribution (€ 8.500);
  • obtain a Police Clearance (Nulla Osta) in Italy;
  • have certificates, documents, attestations as required for the type of self-employment activity to be performed.

The Visa is subject to Italy’s quota-system and is renewable every year.

  • Employment VISA and EU Blue Card

This is the most common VISA among young people who wish to relocate or have a work experience in Italy, since it is granted on the basis of an employment contract.
The employer (sponsor) must provide a gross remuneration of no less than € 26,000 and a minimum contract of 1 year, because shorter durations or lower remunerations do not allow the applicant to access such option.

Skilled workers (College degree holders) are eligible for the EU blue card which is a common standard among the EU countries, with a minimum duration is 2 years

Family extension

Every VISA can be extended to the holder’s family members, therefore spouse and children can move to Italy prior applying to the family extension VISA.

If you need any further clarification or advisory regarding the topic, our team would be delighted to help you reach your targets and goals.