Obtaining visas for Italy

The requirements and processes to obtain a visa for Italy will vary depending on a person’s nationality as well as their reason for being in Italy.

EU citizens and those from a designated list of countries drawn up by the Italian government are afforded visa-free entry into Italy for up to 90 days. Citizens of countries not appearing on the visa-free list must apply for a Schengen visa to gain entry into Italy for tourism or business purposes. 

Furthermore, expats from EU-member states may also legally work in Italy without a work permit. All they need to do is apply for a residence card which allows them to navigate bureaucratic channels and complete essential tasks such as opening a bank account. Non-EU nationals however, must navigate a more rigorous bureaucratic process if they wish to work and reside in Italy. 

There are two main types of visas for Italy.

  • The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) or type C is a short-term visa that is valid for up to 90 days and allows for travel to Italy and other Schengen states.
  • The second kind of visa is the National Visa (NV) or type D, a long-term entry visa that allows the holder to stay in Italy for specific purposes, such as to study in the country. The type D visa may also allow for travel to other Schengen countries.
  • Type C and D visas fall into a number of different categories such as business visas, study visas and working holiday visas, each of which has its own specific requirements.

Schengen visas allow individuals access to certain other European countries. Applicants should declare which countries they plan on visiting when submitting their application.

Expats who are not citizens of an EU-member state but wishing to live and work in Italy are required to apply for a work permit.

Every province in Italy has an office dedicated to all matters connected to immigration (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione). These offices are responsible for the entire process of hiring foreign workers in Italy. Before an application for a work permit can be made, the expat’s Italian employer must first apply for clearance (nulla osta al lavoro) at their nearest immigration centre.

Only after an employer has received clearance to hire a foreign worker, can the expats apply for an Italian work permit at the local Italian diplomatic mission. Once this application is processed, the applicant will be issued with an entry visa which either entitles them to travel to Italy to submit their work residence permit application or apply for it within their home country.

Depending on an applicant’s nationality they may be able to apply for this permit after having arrived in Italy. In any case, all expats intending to work and live in Italy must report to their local immigration office within eight days of arriving in Italy. This registration can also be done at a post office in some provinces.

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 and proof of identification, fingerprints and photos.

There are different types of work permit, but generally most are granted for at least a year. Applicants are also required to enter into an agreement with the Italian Ministry of Interior (Ministero Dell’Interno) whereby they agree to fulfil certain integration objectives such as attending Italian language classes.

Anyone intending on staying in Italy for more than 90 days will need to apply for a residence permit. 

Expats will need to prove a legitimate reason for their stay and this will determine the length of the permit's validity. For instance, a residence permit can be granted for seasonal work, for study purposes, or for self-employment, open-ended employment, or family reunification, valid for up to two years. 

Expats will have to apply to renew their residence permits at least 90, 60 or 30 days before the expiry date, depending on the length the permit was granted for.

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