Italy Immigration Services – Elective Residency, Investor & Working Visas

Obtaining an Italian residence permit (i.e. Permesso di Soggiorno) does not grant you a visa or valid immigration status in Italy. In order to work and/or effectively live in Italy (beyond the visa-waiver/ESTA), you will need a long-term immigration and visa solution. Navigating the Italian regulations for immigration, like any other country, should typically involve professional legal support.

At Davies & Associates, our Italy Practice Group is well-positioned to assess your individual immigration needs.

Elective Residency Visa

Italy Elective Residence Visa and Summary of the Immigration Process

The elective residency visa permits a long-term stay for foreigners who intend to take residence in Italy. Qualified candidates must meet various requirements, including proof of financial independence that does not rely on gainful employment within Italy.

To be eligible, individuals must submit documented proof of housing (to be purchased or rented) in Italy and an income of more than 32,000 EUROS of regular and stable financial resources which are likely to remain steady in the future.

Resources must derive from stable asset-based revenues (annuities, pensions), property ownership, stable economic-financial activities or other sources other than employment. In essence, the Elective Residency Visa allows qualified individuals to enter Italy for an indefinite period of time.

The process can be summarized in the following three stages:

Elective Residence Visa Application 2-6 Weeks
Residence Permit Application 3-5 Months
Residency Registration 1-3 Months

STEP 1: Elective Residence Visa

Obtaining the elective residence visa involves completing the relevant application form and providing necessary supporting documentation. The Consulate has the right to issue the visa within 90 days, but the processing time is usually between four to eight weeks, depending on the Consulate’s workload, time of year, and applicant’s nationality.

The applicant will need to show assets from a portfolio. The Consulate may request original financial statements from banks, investments/brokerage firms, or social security, all indicating current balances. Please note that balances cannot be derived from current employment or any other work activities. The deciding factor for Italian Authorities is showing a considerable amount of money and, even if the minimum income requirement set forth by the Ministry of Interior is met, there is no guarantee that the visa will be issued as each Consulate evaluates the applications on a case-by-case basis and has discretionary power to make any additional request.


STEP 2: Residence Permit Application

As soon as the Elective Residence Visa is issued, the applicant may enter Italy and apply for the Residence Permit, also called “Permesso di Soggiorno”, within eight days of arrival. It can be requested from any Post Office by submitting special forms and supporting documents. As soon as the application is filed, the Post Office will immediately issue a receipt, serving as proof of submission, which is valid as a provisory permit of stay.

The Post Office will forward the application to the competent Police Station that, usually after several months from the date of filing, summons the applicant to show up for an identification (fingerprinting) and document collection appointment.

It then takes several months (depending on the municipality) from the identification appointment to be summoned again by the Police, this time to collect the actual Residence Permit. Once the Residence Permit is issued, the immigration process is finished, and the applicant will have proper legal status in Italy.


STEP 3: Residency Registration

The final step to be taken by the applicant (if planning to stay in Italy for more than 6 months per year), is the registration of the personal residency address in Italy with the Town Hall. While some countries do not have a similar procedure, Italians and new residents are obligated to register with the Town Hall of the city where they live to establish residency.

This can be done as soon as the Residence Permit request is filed. Registering permanent residency is necessary for the following activities: lower fees on bank accounts; buying a car; issuance of an Italian ID Card (Carta d’Identità); getting a parking permit when living in a historic center; registering for the National Health Service; and Shipping of Personal Goods into the country duty-free.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ABOUT LIVING IN ITALY ON AN ELECTIVE RESIDENCY VISA

  • Education: Free public education is available to children who reside in Italy (charges may be applied for school meals where applicable)
  • Health Care:Holders of an elective residence permit can register with Italian National Health service by paying a registration annual fee (expiring on December 31st of each year). Being registered with the National Health Service entitles the foreigner to the same benefits as Italian citizens (choose a family doctor, access to all specialist tests and visits, be admitted to hospital etc.)
  • Italian Citizenship: Holders of an elective residence permit can apply for the permanent residence permit after 5 years of legal stay in Italy. In order to be eligible, an applicant must have registered as residents and filed tax returns. After 10 years of legal residency in Italy an individual may be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship. In order to be eligible an applicant must have registered as residents and filed tax returns.
  • Work Prohibition: The holder of an Elective Residence Visa is prohibited from working in Italy. However, you are permitted to derive income from alternative resources, such as:
    • Ownership/Equity interest in companies and other assets. (i.e. bonds/stocks in companies;
    • Bank deposits, provided that funds are stable (the Consulate will ask to see if they have been recently deposited, for how long funds have been in deposit)
    • Company income (not as an employee, but as owner of company; the applicant can own shares of a company and/or be non executive director - with no managing powers)
    • Real estate income – ownership of real estates that generates income (i.e. rent)
    • Please note: subject to an authorization of the Police Immigration Office, it is generally possible to become shareholder/director of a new Italian company with the Elective Residence Visa, provided that no salary is paid.
  • Driving License: After one year of residency in Italy, a foreign driver’s license is no longer valid. Getting an Italian driver’s license is mandatory after being a resident in Italy for one year. Only the nationals from some countries can convert their foreign driver’s license into an Italian license. All others must apply for a new Italian license.
  • Driving License:• Taxation in Italy: An individual who obtains an elective residence visa shall not pay taxes in Italy if:
    • The applicant is not registered in the Municipality (City Hall) of the place where he lives;
    • Lives in Italy less than 183 days during the fiscal year (January to December); and
    • Does not have his habitual abode in the country.
  • Extension: The Residence Permit can be renewed before the date of expiration within Italy. The visa does not need to be renewed, as it is replaced by the Residence Permit.
    • Residency Update: Applicants are required to update their residency status in Italy when they apply for renewing their Residence Permit. Town Halls usually accept a simple communication sent by registered mail or fax, but in some cases the foreigner may need to visit the Town Hall to declare that he is still a resident in Italy.
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