Citizens of the European Union (EU) don’t need a work permit to legally work in Italy since they have a right to work in EU member states. These expats must simply apply for an Italian residence card after arriving in the country so that they can be formally registered as residing in the country. Expats from outside the EU must apply for a residence permit, work permit and work visa for Italy.
Foreigners who intend to stay in Italy for more than three months must apply for a residence permit. These permits allow foreigners to stay in Italy under certain conditions depending on the category of the residence permit.
Work permits for Italy
Every Italian province has an office that the government describes as a one-stop shop for immigration. This is the Immigration Desk (or Sportello Unico per l'Immigrazione). These offices are responsible for the entire process of hiring foreign workers in Italy.
Before an application for a residence permit can be made, the expat’s Italian employer must first apply for clearance (nulla osta al lavoro) at their nearest immigration centre. This is because there is a quota of foreign workers who can be employed in Italy each year.
While the expat applicant will be required to submit certain documents, the employer takes responsibility for much of the application. Expats must still provide personal details and certain documents. Requirements can vary over time, but expats should not worry too much, as their company will inform them of what is necessary. Generally, a copy of one’s ID, proof of accommodation and future employment details are required.
Expats with a permit that is valid for a year or more are required to report to the Italian Ministry of the Interior (Ministero Dell’Interno), where they will agree to fulfil certain integration objectives, such as attending Italian language classes.
A working residence permit for seasonal work is generally valid for six months and can be extended by an additional three months. Permits for self-employment, employment under a local employer and family joining visas are valid for a maximum of two years.
Work permits for Italy are position-specific, and any change to the employee’s position must be reported to immigration. If an expat loses their job in Italy, their residence permit will not automatically be revoked. Instead, it is possible to register as being unemployed and stay for as long as the permit allows.
Work visas for Italy
After the employer receives clearance to hire a foreign worker, expats can apply for their work visa. Often, expats can only apply for their work visa from outside the country. Therefore, the expat employee must apply for an Italian work visa at their local Italian diplomatic mission.
Once the employee is cleared to work in Italy, the expat will be issued an entry visa at their local Italian consulate, which contains a tax code that is necessary for other bureaucratic and administrative processes.
Self-employment visas for Italy
To obtain this type of visa, expats will need a residence permit and a work permit for self-employment. The application for residence permits works the same. However, for a work permit, expats must contact the Italian Chamber of Commerce to apply. The immigration office then decides if the expat fits the quota and is eligible for the work permit.
* Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice, and expats should consult their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
How did expats find the work permit process in Italy?
"We knew going in that it would be a long, slow process and planned accordingly." Read Valerie's experience of applying for visas and work permits for Italy.
"In Italy, the rules change depending on who you have in front of you." Anna, an expat from the US, describes her experience applying for work permits and visas for Italy. Read her interview to find out more.
►For more on employment in the country, read Working in Italy
►For a first-hand account, read this expat's story about Getting a Work Permit for Italy
Are you an expat living in Italy?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Italy. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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