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1. GOVERNMENT CONTACTS AND HELPFUL LINKS

Ministries or Agencies involved in the visa and permit process:
  • Italian Ministry of Interior
  • Italian National Police
  • Embassies Worldwide: Each Italian consulate has its own website, which should be checked according to the application being made. It is advisable always to double-check the accuracy of the information on the website before filing any applications.
Some general information on the various options and procedures that may be followed can be found on the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
2. GENERAL INFORMATION - IMMIGRATING FOR BUSINESS AND WORK PURPOSES
Italian immigration procedure for work or business purposes varies depending on the length of the foreign citizen's intent to stay in Italy. 

Short-Term Stay - If the foreign worker needs to enter the country and carry out business activities for a short-term period (less than 90 days), the following procedure is to be followed: 

1. BUSINESS VISA REQUEST: If the worker is a visa national, he or she will need to obtain a business visa, which must be applied for at the Diplomatic Italian Authority (Italian Consulate) in the citizen's country of residence. It cannot be issued directly in Italy or by a consulate of a country where the applicant is not formally resident. Usually the visa is released after 3 to 15 days from the application date. This timing may vary depending on the competent diplomatic authority to which the request has been filed. 

2. NON-VISA NATIONALS - Non-visa nationals can enter on business, up to 90 days, without a visa. Italian law does not clearly define the activities that can be carried out while "on business." Business visitors are allowed to travel in Italy (and visit the other Schengen countries) to carry out commercial activities; conduct negotiations and stipulate agreements; attend seminars; or install, check and repair products and equipment sold or purchased on the basis of commercial and industrial cooperation. 

Long-Term Stay - If the foreigner needs to work and stay in Italy for more than 90 days, Italian law mainly distinguishes between three kinds of foreign workers: subordinated workers, autonomous workers, and assigned workers:

1) Subordinate workers (lavoratori dipendenti

Subordinate workers (i.e., employees) are those whose services are hired by a company or an employer operating in Italy. The issuance of a visa for "lavoro subordinato" is subject to the specific quotas released annually by the Government for the intake of foreign workers. The Italian company will need to obtain a work permit (issued by the Immigration Office, after having obtained a clearance from the Labor Authority and from the Police) in order to be authorized to hire the applicant. 

2) Autonomous workers (lavoratori autonomi

Autonomous workers are those who set up in Italy to independently work as consultants, to practice a licensed profession (e.g., doctors, architects or attorneys), set up a company or be appointed as legal representative of an Italian company. The issuance of this type of work visa is subject to the availability of the quotas periodically released by the government. The procedure for consultants and those who intend to carry out a licensed activity is more lengthy while the issuance of the visa for those appointed as officers of Italian companies is faster, but the Italian company must be in good standing and provide sufficient guarantees for the applicant. 

3) Assigned workers (lavoratori distaccati

The "assignment procedure" may be followed when a worker is assigned to work at an Italian company for a fixed period of time (initially no more than 2 years; may be extended up to 5 years), while remaining on the payroll of the foreign company. Italian immigration law provides for different kinds of assignment procedures, depending on the relationship between the foreign and Italian companies and the job to be carried out. 

3(i) Intra-company transfer 

According to this procedure, the foreign worker may be transferred from the foreign parent company to an Italian affiliate. This type of assignment is applicable to highly specialized personnel or managers who have been on the foreign company's payroll (or on the payroll of a company of the same group) for at least 6 months. 

3(ii) Service agreement assignment 3 

This procedure requires collaboration between the worker's foreign company and the Italian company. A service agreement must be prepared between the two companies outlining the specific services that the foreign worker will carry out during the assignment in Italy. 

3(iii) Highly qualified workers 

This procedure allows companies or entities operating in Italy to transfer highly qualified workers in Italy for a determined period to carry out a specific task or activity. 

4) Special categories of workers 

(a) In addition to the categories listed above, there are a number of special categories of workers who may work in Italy on assignment for temporary periods; e.g., journalists, athletes, artists, and nurses. 

(b) Individuals who have a work permit (and who are hired locally) issued by another EU country can be transferred to Italy based upon a service agreement between their employer and an Italian company. In such a case a work permit is not needed but it is sufficient that the Italian company sends a notice to the local immigration office. 

(c) Workers who meet the conditions for an intra-company assignment (i.e., 6-month seniority in the same field, the host and sending company are part of the same group) who carry out some "freelance" activities also for the benefit of the Italian host company, may obtain a "self employee" work permit, which is issued by the Police rather than by the Immigration Office. 

3. VISAS AND PERMITS

Local Hiring

Subject to the availability of quotas. The Italian Government periodically issues new quotas which, if obtained, allow non-EU nationals to be hired directly by an Italian company. It is difficult to obtain a quota due to the high number of applications in relation to the number of quotas available.

Procedure

1. Quota application is filed with the local Immigration Office; 

2. Once the quota is issued, the employee may apply for the entry visa at the Consulate in his or her country of residence; 

3. The employee enters Italy with the visa and applies for a long-term residence permit.

Autonomous Workers

Subject to the availability of quotas (see Local Hiring, above). Those who intend to carry out licensed/freelance activities (e.g., doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs) must obtain a special authorization from the relevant bar association or labor chamber. This requirement does not apply to those appointed as officers of an Italian company.

Procedure

1. Application is filed with the local Police Authority (Questura); 

2. Once the clearance is issued, the employee may apply for the visa at the Consulate in his or her country of residence; 

3. The employee enters Italy with the visa and applies for a long-term residence permit.

Highly Specialized Employees and Intra-Company Assignees

Must obtain a work authorization (Nulla Osta) from the local Immigration Office. No quotas are required when the sending and host companies are not part of the same group. In this case, a Service Level Agreement must be executed and local Unions must be informed. 

Procedure

1. Work Permit application is filed with the local Immigration Office; 

2. Once the Work Permit is issued, the employee may apply for the employment visa at the Consulate in his or her country of residence; 

3. The employee enters Italy and regularizes the job position with the Immigration authorities (Contract of Stay to be signed); 

4. The employee applies for a long-term residence permit.

ICT Assignees Working as Consultants of Italian Companies

Must obtain a clearance (Nulla Osta) from the local Police Authority. No quotas are required. 

Procedure

1. Application is filed with the local Police Authority (Questura); 

2. Once the clearance is issued, the employee may apply for the visa at the Consulate in his or her country of residence; 

3. The employee enters Italy and applies for a long-term residence permit. 

Holders of a Work Permit in Another EU Country

The foreign company and the Italian host company must execute a service agreement 

Procedure

1. Application is filed with the local Immigration Office; 

2. The employee enters Italy and applies for a long-term residence permit.

Others

Special permits (out of the quota system) are provided for the following types of specialized employees: 

- Translators and interpreters; 

- Traveling show performers; 

- Professional athletes; 

- Dancers and artists; 

- Artists performing in opera, theater, cinema movies 

Procedure

1. Work Permit application is filed with the competent Ministry Office (depending on the type of employee); 

2. Once the Work Permit is issued, the employee may apply for the employment visa at the Consulate in country of residence; 

3. The employee enters Italy and applies for a long-term residence permit. 

Marco Mazzeschi
Milan, Italy
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