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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

As Italy is both a member of the European Union (EU) and party to the Schengen Treaty, differing immigration rules will apply to foreign workers coming to Italy, depending on their nationality. EU and EEA nationals are free to work in Italy without the need for a work permit under European free movement principles. Foreign workers from non-EU / EEA countries are generally required to hold a valid work permit from their employer and work visa from the Italian consulate in their country of residence before entering Italy. While hiring of non-EU/EEA nationals is subject to a yearly quota system, highly-skilled professionals are generally exempt from this quota. However, they are still required to follow the relevant application process to obtain a work permit and visa.

Your Options

Use your own company

A foreign company that wishes to get a work permit for one of its employees must first set up its Italian subsidiary/branch/representative office. This Italian entity may then apply for the work permit.

There are three steps to the entire process:-

  • Authorization requests made by employers to the Immigration Single Desk (ISD);
  • Visa request by prospective workers in their country of origin;
  • Request and delivery of the stay permit for working purposes

Step 1: Authorisation request (Nulla Osta) 

Employers have to request authorization to hire a foreign worker living abroad from the ISD. Every Italian province has an office that the government describes a one-stop shop for immigration, the ISD (“Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione”). These offices are responsible for the entire process of hiring foreign workers in Italy.

Each applicant employer is expected to submit a so called “Stay contract” (“Contratto di soggior- no”) in which she/he commits him/herself to guarantee adequate lodging for the requested worker and to fund travel costs for his/her repatriation in case of expulsion before the expiry of the contract. In addition, the contract has to include the work contract’s details that must comply with existing collective contracts for the specific sector/occupation in which the requested worker will be employed.

Once all the checks have been made by both Labour authority (“Direzione Territoriale del Lavoro”) and local State Police offices (“Questura”), the authorization (“nulla osta”), may be delivered to the applicant employer.

Migreat states that a nulla osta application typically requires the following information:

  • Employer’s details – the company’s and legal representative of the company’s name, address and place of business;
  • Prospective employee’s foreign address
  • Signed undertaking to report any changes in the employment contract to the Employment Centre (Centro per l’Impiego) or INPS (for domestic workers), within 5 days of the event;
  • Evidence of suitable accommodation which meets local public housing standards and complies with hygiene and habitation requirements. Any contribution towards accommodation expenses and the corresponding salary deductions from the employer must also be declared;
  • Confirmation that the company’s Chamber of Commerce registration corresponds with the activity on the application;
  • Proposed employee contract – specifying the terms and conditions of the employment, open-ended, fixed-term, full-time or part-time, salary and social security contributions. It must also include an undertaking to pay the foreign national’s repatriation costs, if the immigrant is expelled from the country, and a confirmation of accommodation;
  • For applications relating to a person under 18, documentation confirming that compulsory education has been completed must also be included. This certification must be issued by a state school or equivalent public institution in accordance with the laws in force in the minor’s country of origin. It must be stamped by the Italian diplomatic representation or Consulate, after the foreign institution has checked that the parent or legal guardian has consented to the child leaving the country.

Time: 40 days

Cost: No charge

Step 2: Issue of visa (visto nazionale)

Once the nulla osta is delivered to the employer, he/she sends it on to the prospective foreign worker. The foreign worker is then required to present him/herself at the Italian diplomatic representation / consular in his/her country of origin and request a visa for working purposes.

The nulla osta is valid for 6 months and the working visa may be issued during this period. The type of work visa required and the required procedures to obtain these items differ depending on how the work relationship is classified (for example, as a self-employment activity or an employment activity).

Documentation vary by embassy and country, however some documents that are typically required:-

  • Completed Visa application form (for a copy of the form, please visit here).
  • Recent passport-size photograph
  • Passport or relevant travel document
  • Nulla osta granted by the ISD
  • International Medical Certificate- for all applicants
  • Proof of Accommodation in Italy
  • Copy of Flight Itinerary- where applicable
  • Copy of Birth Certificate­­s- for all applicants, legalized and translated into Italian
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable) – legalized and translated into Italian
  • Visa Fee- payable in cash at the consulate

Costs and time:  Approximately € 116.00, however this may vary by country.

Step 3: Issue of residence permit (permesso di soggiorno)

Within eight days of his/her arrival in Italy, the foreign national must sign the stay contract presented by the employer
at the ISD and simultaneously apply for the residence permit (“Permesso di soggiorno”) for working purposes. The residence permit will be issued by the Questura.

The residence permit is issued at the new arrival’s local police station. This requires filling out an application form specifying the type of permit required, proof of identification, fingerprints and photos. Different types of permits may have different requirements. The residence permit is an electronic smart card to guard against fraud. In order to get a residence permit, the foreign national will have to submit a variety of documents including application forms, a passport and photocopies, passport photos and an application fee.

The receipt an applicant receives while waiting for their residence card affords them the same rights as the permit they are applying for.

The residence permit has the same duration as the employment contract with a maximum of 2 years. It is renewable for 24 months and then a further 12 months.  Therefore, the foreign national would be allowed to work in Italy for a maximum period of 5 years.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Shield GEO does not provide sponsored work permits in Italy at this moment.

Types of visas in Italy

Category Description of Visa
EU/EEA Nationals In accordance with the principle of free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals can be employed in Italy without a work permit from the Italian authorities. Swiss citizens have the same right of entry, residence and access to work as EU country nationals.

An EU, EEA or Swiss national who intends to reside and work in Italy must enrol with the Office of Resident Population (Anagrafe) if his or her stay exceeds 90 days. He/she should apply for a so called “Stay card” (“Carta di Soggiorno”), which is normally issued by the local State Police office (“Questura”). This permit is renewable.
Non EU/EEA Nationals Non-EU/ EEA nationals wishing to work in Italy, either temporarily or permanently must obtain a work permit from their prospective employers as well as a work visa from the Italian Consular authorities before coming to Italy. Work visas are usually granted based on a particular work capacity, for example knowledge of the local language of the investor and specific market or technical knowledge.

The admission of non-EU foreign workers is based on a quota system for new entries on a yearly basis. The quota system is intended to regulate the admission of third country nationals and their access to the Italian labor market. The determination of annual quotas is established by the government, which sets the quota through a Prime Minister Decree (known as “Decreto Flussi”).

The admission of some categories of workers is explicitly exempt from the limits set by the quota system. In particular, specific professional profiles can be admitted without any quantitative cap to regulate their inflow. Workers exempt from this system are primary the following:-

1. Executives or managerial employees assigned to the Italian branch of a foreign legal entity
2. Highly skilled workers assigned to the Italian branch of a foreign legal entity for carrying out a specific project
3. Others include university lecturers and professors, translators and interpreters, professional nurses, etc.

Italy is one of the countries that has implemented the Blue Card EU directive, which enables companies to locally hire executives and high-skilled workers, avoiding the quota system.

Despite the lack of explicit quantitative limitations, the admission of workers in these categories is still subject to the authorization (“nulla osta”) granted by the territorial ISD, even if admission procedure have been further simplified for specific categories.
Self-employment visas Foreign nationals may engage in the following self-employment activities in Italy:-

1. They may be directors of companies
2. Freelance or other professional activities

In both cases, foreign nationals must obtain a self-employment visa ("Visto di Lavoro Autonomo").
Schengen visas Italy is a signatory to the Schengen Treaty, which allows the . Currently, there are 25 Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

A Schengen visa allows the holder to stay for a period of up to 90 days within 6 months for either tourist or business purposes. Applicants holding Schengen visa may travel freely within any country within the Schengen territory. There are several types of Schengen visas:

1. A and B visas – these are airport and transit visas for those travelling through the Schengen area
2. C visa – this allows a foreigner to spend up to 90 days within a Schengen country for various purposes, including business, medical treatment, sports competitions, study and tourism
3. D visa – this is a long-stay visa, which allows the holder to reside in Italy for up to one year.
Family member visas Family members who accompany a non-EU foreign national to Italy or wish to join a foreign national in Italy must request special visas from the Italian consulate in their last country of residence. These visas ("Visto per Familiare al Seguito" or "Visto per Ricongiungimento Familiare") allow family members to work in Italy after the relative residence permit for family purpose is obtained (see below).

After the consulate abroad issues the relevant visas,  family members accompanying a foreign national must report to the police in the area where they will live within eight days of their arrival in Italy to request their Residence Permits ("Permesso di Soggiorno per Motivi Familiari").

A special rejoining procedure ("coesione familiare") may be available to family members who have legally entered Italy and hold valid residence permits.
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