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ITALY: The European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive has entered into force as of August 8, 2012.

The European Union (EU) Blue Card Directive has entered into force as of August 8, 2012.

The Blue Card Directive has been fully implemented in Italy under Decree n. 108 of 2012, which entered into force on August 8, 2012.

The EU Blue Card is a new scheme that facilitates the immigration process for highly skilled non-EU foreign workers seeking employment in the EU. With the Blue Card, individuals who meet the requirements can apply for a work permit outside of the Italian quota system, and they do not have to spend a minimum amount of time working for a foreign affiliate of the Italian company before they can apply.

According to the new decree, it is now possible to hire directly in Italy non-EU highly skilled workers without being subject to quota limitations, under certain conditions. Similar to the procedure to be followed for ICT work permits, the procedure under the new decree is:

1. The employer files a work permit application with the immigration office. The list of documents must be confirmed by each Immigration Office, but the law includes:

(i) a job offer for not less than one year with a salary of not less than €25,500 per year. The job offered to the worker must be for a highly skilled position;

(ii) a worker's diploma. The worker must have completed a post-secondary study program with a minimum duration of three years. The school must be a institution of higher education recognized by the state in which it is located. The course of study must be related to the type of work being performed;

(iii) documents proving that the worker has suitable accommodations in the country.

2. After the work permit is issued, the worker applies for a visa in his country of residence.

3. Upon entry into Italy, the employer and worker execute a contract of stay at the Immigration Office.

4. The worker files for a permit of stay at the post office and then completes the process at the police office.

Workers with a Blue Card issued by another EU country may be hired in Italy only after 18 months from the date of issuance of their card. The employer still must apply for a work permit, but the worker will not need to obtain a visa.

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