Temporary and permanent residence in Italy
Foreigners who want to stay in Italy for over 90 days must obtain a residence permit — permesso di soggiorno. There are two types of residency permits: temporary and permanent.
Temporary residency is valid for 1 or 2 years, depending on why the permit is needed. Students, for example, get a 1-year residency card, while investors and foreign employees of Italian companies get a 2-year one.
A non-EU citizen can obtain temporary residency in Italy for one of these reasons:
- work or pending employment;
- study, scientific research or internship;
- family reunification;
- medical treatment;
- special cases, such as residency for international protection or pending recognition of stateless status.
The permanent residence permit is granted to foreigners legally and continuously living in Italy for at least 5 years. Those 5 years of residence in the state shouldn’t be interrupted for longer than 6 consecutive months or 10 months in total.
To obtain permanent residency, foreigners must demonstrate adequate knowledge of the Italian language and income higher than the social allowance, which is €503.27 in 2023.
How to obtain Italy residency as an EU citizen
EU citizens don’t need a visa to enter Italy or a permit for long-term residence there. However, if their stay is longer than 3 months, they must register at a local Register office, Anagrafe.
For registration in Italy, EU citizens need to provide the following documents:
- an ID card;
- evidence of employment or self-employment, or other regular income source, or sufficient funds on their bank account;
- evidence of their reasons for staying in Italy long-term, such as an invitation from a university or a job offer.
How to get an Italy residency permit by investment
Non-EU citizens who want to move to Italy, but don’t have work or study agreements in the country, can obtain a temporary residence by investment. This option was introduced by the Italian government in 2017 and is known as the Golden Visa, or the Investor Visa.
Foreigners can choose one of the options to invest:
- €250,000 — business investment in an innovative startup approved by the authorities;
- €500,000 — business investment in a company that is incorporated and operates in Italy;
- €1,000,000 — philanthropic investment in a project of public interest operating in the field of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, and preservation of cultural heritage;
- €2,000,000 — purchase of government investment funds.
Requirements. Aside from having enough funds for the chosen options, applicants must meet the general requirements for entering the program. Namely, they must be over 18 years old, prove the legality of their income with corresponding documents, have no criminal record or prosecutions, and provide proof of health insurance valid in Italy.
Under the same investment, an investor can also request residency for their close family members. This applies to:
- a spouse;
- children under 18, including those of the spouse;
- unmarried adult children who are fully dependent on the investor and don’t have children of their own;
- parents who are financially dependent on the investor.
Validity period. The initial residence permit obtained by investment is valid for 2 years. Later, the holder can renew it for another 3 years. After that, the investor is eligible for a permanent residence permit.
If investors choose a returnable investment option, they can return their money only after obtaining permanent residency. If they do so before, they won’t be able to renew the temporary residency permit and will lose their status.
Step-by-step procedure and obtainment timeframe for an Italy Golden Visa
Depending on the chosen option to invest, the total obtainment period of the Italy Golden Visa is 3 months or more.
Immigrant Invest lawyers first run a preliminary background check on a client to minimise the risk of rejection. Depending on the results of this check, specialists sign a contract with an investor and proceed with the chosen investment program.
Immigrant Invest lawyers provide the investor with a list of documents required to obtain a Nulla Osta certificate and apply for the investor visa.
Nulla Osta confirms that there are no obstacles for an applicant to become a resident in Italy. Our specialists apply for Nulla Osta for the investor on the Golden Visa website.
Applications for Nulla Osta are processed within 30 days. During that time, the Committee might request additional documents.
Nulla Osta is valid for 6 months. Within this period, the investor has to apply for a visa to the Italian consulate in their country of origin.
Immigrant Invest lawyers accompany the investor and help them through the application process.
Visa applications are processed within 120 days. Most often, the decision is made 10—20 days from the documents’ submission date.
The investor visa is valid for 2 years. Within that time, the investor must visit Italy and apply for residency. For that, they need to personally submit their documents to the Migration Service and fulfil the investment condition. The latter should be done within 3 months upon arrival to Italy.
The applications are reviewed within 30 days. If the authorities request additional documents, the applicant has a month to submit them.
How to obtain a residence permit for work in Italy
Quotas. The Italian government allows employing only a certain amount of foreign workers yearly. For instance, 82,705 foreigners can obtain residence permits for work in 2023.
75,705 of the total spots are intended for new residents and 7,000 for those already residing in Italy for other purposes. For instance, when a person living in the country as a student gets a job at a local company, they can convert their permit.
Some professions are recognised as “out-of-quotas”, meaning they are not counted in the general quota, and people of those occupations follow a different procedure to apply for residency. This applies to translators, interpreters, sports professionals, artists, scientists, nurses, and trainees.
Application procedure. To employ a foreign professional, Italian companies need to authorise this decision with Immigration Office. First, they confirm with the Employment Centre (Centro per l'Impiego) that there are no appropriate professionals among current residents. After confirmation, they can apply to the Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico) for foreign employee authorisation.
Once the Immigration Desk authorises a foreign employee, it requests the Italian embassy in the candidate's home country to issue an entry visa for them. The candidate must present a valid passport, medical insurance, and proof of accommodation in Italy to the embassy.
The Immigration Desk will not authorise a foreigner if the visa candidate is considered a threat to public order or the security of the state or if they have criminal records.
Obtainment timeframe. It takes at least 1.5 months for the employer to get confirmation from the Employment Centre and the Immigration Desk. After that, the visa is processed within 20 days.
In total, the process takes around 3 months.
Validity period of the residency permit depends on the foreign employee’s work contract. If the contract is permanent, then the candidate will obtain a 2-year residency card. A fixed-contract holder gets 1-year residency. Those working seasonal jobs get 9‑month permits.
How to obtain residency in Italy for pending employment
Eligibility. If a foreigner loses their job in Italy, their residency permit doesn’t get cancelled. Moreover, they can apply for residency for pending employment, which is valid for at least a year.
Application process. Once a foreign resident loses their job in Italy, their employer is supposed to notify the area’s Immigration Desk and the Employment Centre. The latter registers the resident as an unemployed person.
To keep their residency, the foreign unemployed person must present themselves at the Employment Centre to request support in the job-seeking process. They provide personal data and information about their skills and the last position. They also can sign a Declaration of Immediate Availability if they want to claim social benefits and receive authorised help from the Centre to find a new job.
Documents. To obtain residency for pending employment, the applicant must send the following documents to the Immigration Desk:
- a filled-in application form;
- a passport copy;
- a certificate from the Employment Centre stating the applicant’s registration on the employment list.
Validity period. Provided that they are not seasonal workers, foreign residents can stay in Italy for a year after losing their jobs. This includes the residual period from their work permit. If they enrol in the Employment Centre, they can later renew the permit.
How to obtain temporary residency in Italy as a student
Eligibility. Adult non-EU citizens can apply for study in Italian universities as international students. Every academic year, each university reserves certain spots for foreign applicants.
The courses suitable for international students and the total number of open spots are available on the Universitaly platform powered by the Ministry of Education, University and Research.
Non-EU foreigners under 18 and international students in other EU countries can study at Italian universities through exchange programs.
Application. To come to Italy and study at a local university, a foreign citizen needs first to obtain a visa to enter the country. For that, they present the following documents to the Italian embassy in their country of residence:
- an application form, filled in;
- a confirmation of enrollment or pre-enrollment from an Italian university;
- a passport-size photo;
- a valid passport that can be used for travel;
- documentation of educational history in the country of origin — for instance, a high school diploma;
- a bank statement proving sufficient funds;
- proof of accommodation in Italy;
- healthcare insurance coverage valid in Italy.
After the visa is issued, its holder travels to Italy and applies for a residence permit. This should be done within 8 days upon arriving in the country.
The applicant submits a similar package of documents to the Immigration Police Headquarters via post.
Validity period. A student visa is valid for 1 year. If the course continues and the international student has passed their exams successfully, they can renew their permit for another year.
Italy residency for family reunification
Eligibility. Close family members of citizens and residents in Italy can obtain residency permits as well. This applies to:
- a resident’s spouse;
- children under 18;
- adult children who are dependent on the Italy resident for objective reasons, such as disability;
- parents over 65, provided that no other children in their country of origin can support them.
Application process. Candidates for the family reunion visa apply to an Italian embassy in the country of their residence.
With the application, family members submit the following documents:
- an application form;
- a passport or other travel document;
- two coloured passport photos;
- Nulla Osta — an authorisation for visa obtainment from the Immigration desk by the inviting person; this is applicable only if the inviting resident is not an EU citizen;
- a copy of the inviting person’s ID card or residence permit;
- civil registry that proves family relations;
- a signed consent form from the other parent if the visa applicant is a minor;
- proof of sufficient means and adequate accommodation in Italy.
After the visa is issued, its holder travels to Italy and applies for a residency permit. For that, they need to send a similar package of documents to the Immigration Police Headquarters via post.
How to obtain permanent residency in Italy
Eligibility. Anyone residing in Italy with a temporary residence permit for 5 continuous years can obtain permanent residency.
Permanent residents of Italy have almost as many rights as the country’s nationals, except for voting rights. The status allows residing and working in Italy indefinitely, taking advantage of social benefits, travelling visa-free to any EU state, and enrol in any local university as a regular, not foreign, student.
Application process. A candidate for permanent residency applies at a Post Office: they present an “application kit” that will be sent to the Police department. The kit should include the following:
- a passport copy;
- a copy of the applicant’s income tax statement proving that their monthly income is higher than the social allowance, which is €503.27 in 2023;
- criminal records and pending charges;
- evidence of accommodation in Italy;
- copies of payslips for the current year;
- receipts of paid fees: €27.50 for the electronic residence permit and €14.62 for the electronic revenue stamp;
- proof of knowledge of the Italian language, at least at the A2 level — this could be a university or school diploma or an exam certificate.
4 benefits of residency in Italy
1. The right to stay in Italy for as long as the permit is valid. In the case of permanent residency, the holder can stay in the country indefinitely.
Italy is one of the 15 countries with the highest quality of life, according to U.S. News and World Report’s research in 2022. Expats from all over the world move to Italy for its rich cultural heritage, mild weather, picturesque landscapes, and delicious cuisine.
2. Travel through Europe. Italy residents can travel to any other Schengen state visa‑free for short stays. They can spend up to 3 months in total within a 6‑month period across all Schengen countries.
3. High-quality education. Italy residents can study at local universities at regular tuition fees, without having to pay a fee as an international student. Tuition fees for Italy nationals and residents cost from €900 to €4,000.
Four Italian universities are included in the top 300 world’s best higher education facilities by the QS World University Rankings 2023:
- The Polytechnic University of Milan.
- The University of Bologna.
- The Sapienza University of Rome.
- The University of Padua.
4. Social benefits. Residents of Italy can take advantage of the country’s social benefits. For instance, they are entitled to receive medical treatment in public universities and get help from the Employment Centres in case of unemployment.
Prospect of citizenship: how to obtain an Italy passport as a resident
Becoming eligible for citizenship is another benefit of being an Italian resident.
Non-EU residents can obtain Italy citizenship after 10 years of living in the country. Within the last 5 years prior to application, the time spent outside of the country should not exceed 10 months in total.
Applicants for citizenship need to prove sufficient legal income: at least €8,264 yearly if the candidate is single and €11,362 if they are married. The income is confirmed with annual tax returns.
Proficiency in the Italian language is another requirement for citizenship applicants. They are required to present a B1 certificate recognised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To obtain such a certificate, candidates take tests at one of these four facilities:
- Dante Aligheri Society;
- University of Foreigners in Siena;
- UNiversity of Roma Tre;
- University for Foreigners in Perugia.
Graduates of Italian schools and universities are exempt from taking the test.
Finally, an applicant for citizenship must present proof of having no criminal record in Italy and other countries of their residence.
Italy’s passport is one of the strongest in the world. The country’s citizens can travel visa-free to 190 states and territories, including the USA, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
- There are two types of residence permits in Italy: temporary and permanent. The temporary residency permit allows staying in the country for 1—2 years. The permanent one entitles to indefinite stay and work in Italy.
- A temporary residence permit can be obtained by investment, for work or study, pending employment, and family reunification.
- To be eligible for permanent residency in Italy, one has to spend at least 5 years in the country based on a temporary permit.
- Foreigners residing in Italy for 10 years, having sufficient income and knowing Italian at the B1 level or higher can claim citizenship in Italy.
Frequently asked questions
Residence permit in Italy is called permesso di soggiorno. While EU citizens do not need a residence permit to stay in Italy, non-EU nationals must apply for a residence card if they wish to reside there.
Permesso di soggiorno specifies how long you can stay in Italy and on which grounds — for example, whether you can work there.
To apply for permesso di soggiorno, or a residence permit in Italy, foreigners must first get a visa at the Italian embassy in their country of residence and then travel to Italy and apply for a residence permit at the local Immigration Desk.
The list of documents to be presented to the embassy and the Immigration Desk is similar. Typically, it includes s a passport copy, proofs of income and accommodation in Italy, criminal records, and evidence of grounds to stay in the country:
- investment papers if the residency is obtained by investment;
- a contract with a local employer if the permit is needed for work;
- an invitation from a university for international students.
The validity period of a residence permit in Italy depends on the purpose it was obtained for:
- Residence permits obtained by investment are valid for 2 years initially and 3 years after renewal.
- Work permits are valid for 1 or 2 years, depending on the duration of the contract with the employer. Permits for seasonal work have shorter validity periods.
- Students get 1-year permits in Italy and have to renew them yearly until the completion of their course.
One has to have a solid reason to move to Italy. The grounds for obtaining a residence permit include: signing a contract with a local employer, enrolling for a study at an Italian university, reuniting with family members residing in Italy, or investing in the country’s economy.
Regardless of the chosen path to residency, the applicant should be prepared to face a high level of bureaucracy: applicants need to gather many documents, submit them via post and wait for approval. Processing of the documents usually takes several months.
The required funds to move to Italy depend on the chosen path to residency. For instance, those who want to obtain a residence permit by investment should be prepared to contribute at least €250,000.
If your country has a visa-free agreement with Italy, then the allowed duration of stay without a permit is most likely 90 days every half a year. This is the case, for example, for US and UAE passport holders.
Before travelling, check up-to-date information at the Italian embassy in your country of residence before travelling.