Ah. The bright and vivid sun rays penetrate your thinly drawn curtains to signal the start of a beautiful morning in Italy. You awaken to the mesmerizing smell of burnt pizza, freshly-baked bread and grounded coffee, as it wafts delightfully into your abode, making even the locals proclaim Ammazza! Can a person truly ask for more to begin his day?
What seems like a pipe dream and a beautiful illusion is a daily reality for Italians. No, I’m not overselling it. Having holidayed twice in Italy, I can personally guarantee that the description above is not an exaggeration. A walk through the country’s hustle and bustle is sure to bring a smile to even the most stoic of individuals, where merchants introduce you to the freshest of produce, vendors merrily invite you into their restaurants (which honestly, needs no invitation) and the opportunity to live and breathe the Romans supreme architecture.
If you, like me, are as excited as the prospect of spending a chapter of your life in Italy, you could apply for an Italian work visa. It is important to note at the outset that obtaining a work visa is merely one part of the application process and that the Italian work visa merely grants successful applicants the right to enter the country. To continue your stay in Italy, you will also have to obtain a residence permit upon entry.
EU Citizens – Work visas
For nationals of EU member states, thank your lucky stars, or more accurately, the 12 stars emblazoned on the EU flag. Italy, being a member of the EU, allows nationals from other EU member states or nationals from countries in the European Economic Area to seek employment freely in Italy without the requirement of any work visas (Sorry to the British, you have Brexit to blame for that). You are not required to obtain a work visa, you simply have to provide valid identification papers to enter the country i.e. passports or IDs.
Non-EU Citizens – Work visas
Italy has set a quota of roughly 30,000 non-EU workers per year. For nationals of non-EU member states wishing to work in Italy, you will have to obtain a work visa and work permit. As a prerequisite, you must first obtain a valid job offer from an Italian employer. It is then the responsibility of the employer to apply for your work permit as they are required to first obtain the permit, also known as a Nulla Osta from the Italian immigration office, to employ you.
In essence, the work permit application will be entirely handled by your employer while you will have to apply for the work visa. However, you will have to provide your employer with the following information and documents:
- A copy of your identification papers – passport or ID;
- Proof of accommodation in Italy;
- The residence contract in Italy (Foreign workers sign a residence contract, in addition to the work contract, with their employers, which guarantees that the workers have suitable accommodation in Italy and there is a commitment to cover any travel expenses should the worker be expelled from Italy);
- Proof of having sufficient means to return home;
- All necessary information regarding your future employment status.
Once your work permit is issued, you can apply for your work visa. Concerning the work visa, you will have to furnish the following documents at your local embassy:
- Entry Visa Application form, available here:
- A recent passport-sized photograph;
- A valid travel document where expiry is at least 3 months longer than visa duration requested;
- Nulla Osta
As Italy’s work visa application process is largely dependent on your nationality, country of residence, length of stay, you can enter your details here to get the necessary information for your application process: https://vistoperitalia.esteri.it/home/en
Your visa application will have to be completed for at least 3 months before your intended date of entry to Italy. The processing time for the application should take no longer than 30 days, and once it is approved, you will have 6 months to collect your precious visa. Guard it with your life. To conclude, you will have to apply for a residence permit to stay in Italy within 8 days of your arrival, obtainable at any Italian post office. Voila! Welcome to Italy. Well, for up to 2 years. The validity of your work visa is dependent on your employment contract and renewable for up to 5 years.
Blue Card: Europe’s “Green Card” for Highly Skilled Workers
The Blue Card visa will be applicable to you if you consider yourself a highly skilled worker (okay, maybe, just maybe, it has to be backed up by documentary proof). This work visa allows highly skilled workers from non-EU member states to reside and work in an EU country, in our case, Italy, where they have a binding job offer and have the necessary work permit, again applied by your employer.
You are considered a highly skilled worker if:
- A manager of a high quality staff in a large business or a SME;
- A manager of a high quality staff of certain business projects that are of general interest;
- A graduate or postgraduate from prestigious universities and business schools.
Your employer is required to furnish a request, or a communication (where your employer had signed a MOU with the Ministry), proposing a contract to the Single Desk for Immigration in the prefecture of the relevant province. When the proposal is accepted, the Single Desk for Immigration will convey the acceptance to your local embassy and you will be issued a visa to enter Italy. You will not need an entry visa if you are legally staying in Italy or is the holder of an EU Blue Card by another EU member state, where you have resided legally for a minimum period of 18 months.
Like the work visa procedure above, you will have to apply for a residence permit within 8 days of your arrival in Italy and the duration you can stay will be the duration of your contract plus 3 months. If your contract runs indefinitely, your permit duration will last 2 years.
Don’t be that person who forgets your own family. After all, Italians are known for treasuring their family above all else. After being issued your respective work visa, your family members can be included in this amazing journey, provided your work permit has a minimum duration of 1 year. This includes your spouse, minor children, and adult children with disabilities, dependent parents or parents above 65.
The work visa holder will have to submit a request for family reunification with the Immigration Office. You will have to prove that you are earning an income sufficient to provide and support your family with adequate accommodation.
Permanent Residence Permit
So your experience in Italy has been bellissimo, having enjoyed stuffing yourself with exquisite food in delightful al fresco settings, shopping at enormous departmental stores, and overall, just relishing the Italians’ way of life. Now you have decided to make your stay permanent, to become a full-fledged resident of Italy. The permanent residence permit, also known as the long-term visa or permosso di soggiorno, is the first step to your dreams, allowing successful applicants to reside in Italy for a few years or even permanently relocate.
For persons interested in living out the Italian Job (more so referring to the lifestyle, less so the criminality part) long term, both EU and non-EU nationals will have to apply for the permosso di soggiorno. The permanent visa signifies the first step and only way to acquire the coveted Italian citizenship. To obtain permanent residency in Italy, non-EU nationals must first obtain a temporary residence visa, the very same one you have to apply for within 8 days of arrival. EU citizens merely have to register with the police department in the relevant city.
However, to be eligible for permanent residence in Italy, both categories must have lived in Italy for a minimum duration of 5 years. Residence permits can also be obtained by the applicant’s spouse, parents, minor children and children above 18, where they can support themselves. This is of course dependent on the applicant being able to prove that he has sufficient financial capabilities to support themselves and their dependants, as well as proof of a genuine relationship.
Applicants will have to submit the following documents through either a postal office or the municipality office where the interested applications resides, when applying for the permosso di soggiorno:
- Valid ID for EU citizens or a valid passport for non-EU citizens;
- Information regarding the place where they intend to reside;
- Information concerning the reason for entering Italy;
- Proof of self-sustenance.
For the most part, residence visas are usually issued for the following reasons:
- Studying purposes;
- Work purposes;
- To allow for applicants to reunite with their family members.
Applicants will be judged more favourably if they possess the following factors:
- Having proof that they earn sufficient money to support themselves;
- The ability to speak Italian fluently;
- Knowledge of the national customs.
It is a long and complicated process. Perhaps, reading this article may drive some away. But, if the dream of working and residing in Italy overwhelms the fear and/or procrastination in applying to a foreign country, you may be rewarded handsomely in the form of waking to mornings that just can’t be beaten anywhere else. In bocca al lupo!