IMMIGRATION IN ITALY
DISCLAIMER The information provided for by the following document shall only be used as general information since the actual immigration and social contribution laws provisions are very complex and some particular cases of enforcement of the law may not have been reported. Reader are, therefore, are strongly encouraged to ask for professional advise before taking decisions inherent to immigration and subsequent working or business activities in Italy. The Studio Tributario Orlandi Contucci disclaims any responsibility about eventual liabilities for damages incurred to third parties for wrong interpretation of the following document, of the Italian immigration and social contribution law or for wrong decisions concerning investments in working activities as well as for going business in Italy. (Last review: January 30, 2003)
A. Guiding Principles
Subsequent to Italian adhesion to the Schengen Treaty dated June 14, 1985, citizens of the countries participating or associated (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) to the Treaty do not need permits to work or immigrate in Italy. Immigration in Italy is actually ruled by the Guideline of Italian Foreign Ministry dated September 17, 1997, enforced since October 26, 1997. The Guideline has been issued according to the following fonts: Schengen Treaty of June 14, 1985; Enforcement Act of the Schengen Treaty of June 16, 1990; Ratification Act n. 399, dated September 30, 1993 of the Schengen Treaty; Consular Common Instructions approved by the Executive Committee of Schengen in Paris on December 12, 1993.
According to art. 5 of the Schengen Treaty foreigners coming outside the Schengen space may enter In Italy only under the following conditions: entrance is gained through a border post; the foreigner has a valid passport or another recognized immigration document; the foreigner is granted appropriate documentation that justify the scope and the conditions of the sojourn and may have the necessary financial means with reference to the nature and the duration of the sojourn including eventual return expenses. The foreigner that demonstrates to be resident of one of the Schengen countries with a regular sojourn permit is waived to demonstrate the presence of appropriate financial means. However, this exception is not applicable for the case of foreigners going to work or be trained in Italy; the foreigner has been released an immigration or transit visa; the foreigner shall not be considered dangerous for the public order.
Citizen of the countries of the Schengen Treaty or of the associated countries shall not be subject of controls at border posts. The other citizens are subject to normal custom and border controls. The type of visa required and the procedures necessary to obtain a visa may differ depending on how the work relationship is to be classified, for example, as a self-employment activity or an employee activity. According to the new Italian immigration law (Nr. 189/2002), a specific procedure has been introduced in order to request and subsequently obtain a visa. The visa allows to sign a sojourn contract that is mandatory in order to receive a sojourn permit. Thus, according to the new immigration law the sojourn permit, when requested, acquires a fundamental importance in order to fulfil Italian immigration law provisions (Please, see Section B,C and D). Visas shall be requested from abroad. However existing visas may be extended in duration during the time of stay in Italy. Citizens of the countries participating or associated (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) to the Schengen Treaty do not need a visa for entering or immigrate in Italy. Italy has lately introduced new regulations to limit immigration of non EU resident individuals. The new regulations provide for a limited number of permits that may be granted annually on a first come first serve basis. The annual immigration ceiling is set once a year by Ministerial Decree within November 30 of each preceding year. Additional quotas may set during the year by Ministerial Decree if specific needs of specialized handcraft is ascertained. Said decree may foresee numerical limitations for workers of countries that do not cooperate against illegal immigration. Specific quotas are granted to workers of Italian origin from at least one parent up to the third grade in direct line registered on a special list instituted at local diplomatic representation offices as well as for workers that may have concluded treaties finalized to the regulation of immigration. Both EU nationals and non-EU nationals must obtain the release of a sojourn permit within 8 days from immigration in Italy at the General Immigration Office Counter (Soprtello Unico per l’Immigrazione – presso Ufficio territoriale del Governo).
Non EU nationals may enter Italy if the following conditions are met: • • • • • possess of a valid passport; possess of a visa (Please, see Section B and C); entrance through an Italian institutional border post; possess of the requested documentation that certifies the scope and the conditions of the sojourn; availability of adequate means for sustaining the sojourn and the return in the country of provenience (e.g. they are set forth by the Italian Ministry for Internal Affairs) except for the case of existence of a working visa.
B. Temporary Permits
Temporary visas are valid for 90 days and may not be directly renewed (i.e. a time lag must pass from one request to the second one). However, visas may be extended by acquiring a sojourn permit (permesso di soggiorno), which trump temporary visas. The temporary visas may refer to: • • • • • • visa for temporary work which may be granted to managers, directors, university professors an lecturers, translators, showmen and professional sportsmen; visa for business reasons; visa for family re-junction; visa for medical treatment; visa for attending university programs; other visas (for diplomatic reasons, for invitations, for missions, for religious reasons, for re-entrance, for elective residence reasons);
The visas for business reasons and all the “other” visas may be denied without any motivation. Foreign nationals must apply for temporary permits at the Italian Consulates or Embassies in their home countries. Visas issued by diplomatic representatives of other EU member countries with a duration of less than 90 days have the same validity as Italian visas. Citizens of the following countries do not need an entrance visa when they sojourn in Italy for not more than 90 days for reason of travelling, business, sport contest or invitation. Andorra Argentina Australia Bolivia Brazil Borneo Canada Czech Republic Chile Cyprus Columbia South Korea Costa Rica Croatia Ecuador Estonia Hungary Japan Guatemala Honduras Iceland Israel Latvia Lichtenstein Malaysia Malta Monaco Mexico New Zealand Nicaragua Norway Paraguay Poland Salvador San Marino Singapore Slovak Republic Slovenia Switzerland Uruguay U.S.A. Vatican Venezuela
C. Permanent Permits
If a non-EU national is hired directly by an Italian company, placed on the Italian payroll, or seconded to Italy and paid from a foreign payroll, an employment visa (visto d'ingresso per motivi di lavoro subordinato) as well as sojourn permit must be obtained (Please, see Section E).
D. Residence Permits
Within 8 days of arrival in Italy the non UE resident (prospective) employee must report together with the employer to the local General Immigration Office Counter (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione – presso Ufficio territoriale del Governo) and sign the sojourn contract. The sojourn permit is released just after the signature of said contract (Please, see Section E). The employer shall report the employment to the local police station within 48 hours. The communication shall contain the following information: • the personal data of the worker;
• • •
the passport or other id document of the worker; the place of work; the (legal) title of the communication
E. Steps for Obtaining Permits (dependent workers)
The procedure for obtaining a visa for a foreign non UE national is initiated by the prospective Italian employer, which must first submit an application to the local General Immigration Office Counter (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione – presso Ufficio territoriale del Governo) requesting a nominative authorisation to hire the individual in Italy. In case of house work, the request shall also be accompanied by a medial certificate released by a physician of the country of residence or appointed by the local Italian Consulate. Said Office is going to be instituted and in the transitory phase the request may be filed at the local labour office competent with reference to the business site location of the perspective employer. The following documentation is necessary in order to have the request filed: • • • • adequate documentation concerning the lodging accommodation of the foreign worker; nominative authorization request containing the personal data of the worker, the commitment to ensure the worker according to the Italian NBA (National Bargaining Agreements), the site of work, the certificate of the Chamber of Commerce (only for registered companies); a copy of the proposed working contract inclusive of the economic treatment granted and the commitment to pay the eventual expenses for the repatriation of the foreigner to his country of provenience; commitment declaration to communicate any change concerning the working contract.
The authorization request shall be granted within 40 days from filing of the request and has a duration of 6 months. The visa request must be applied at an Italian Embassy or Consulate abroad. Upon request of the employer the Consulate releases the entry visa after having received said nominative authorization to hire the worker by the local General Immigration Office as well as the fiscal code of the worker being granted. Within 8 days from immigration in Italy the foreign worker and the employer shall sign the sojourn contract at the local General Immigration Office Counter. The working permit is released after the signature of the sojourn contract. The sojourn permit may not exceed the following duration: • 9 months for seasonal employment contracts. However if the employee provides evidence that he has sojourned in Italy for two consequent years and said employment contract has a repetitive basis, a long term sojourn with a duration up to 3 years may be granted. The yearly duration of the permit is set equal to the duration of the last year of his precedent permit; • 1 year for time limited employments contracts; • 2 years in relation with unlimited time employment contracts. The renewal of the sojourn permit shall be filed 90 days prior to the foreseen expiration in case of an unlimited time employment contract and 60 days in case of a time limited contract. Green card Non EU workers that has sojourned in Italy for at least 6 years, that has been granted a sojourn permit that allows an unlimited number of renewals (e.g. a working sojourn permit) and that demonstrates to have an adequate financial means for himself and his family members may request the release of a green card. The green card allow to entry Italy without a visa, to perform therein any legal activity, the right to use public services unless differently set forth and the participation to the local public life.
F. Non Dependent Work
Foreign nationals may engage a self-employment activity in Italy as a liberal profession, a freelance or another professional activity. Please, note that according to Italian tax law, director’s of registered companies are considered as dependent workers but not necessarily according to the Italian labour law. Thus, according to the actual interpretation of the new immigration law it seems that said subjects may apply for dependent work visas. In any case non UE-residents shall apply for a non dependent work visa (visto d’ingersso per lavoro autonomo). The following procedure shall be followed, also trough an attorney at law, in order to obtain the visa: • • • File a specific request at the competent Italian Ministry in order to have the educational degree been recognized; Obtain from the local Chamber of Commerce of the intended place of work a declaration concerning the financial means necessary in order to perform the intended self-employment activity; File a specific request to the local General Police Headquarter (i.e. Questura) enclosing the documentation of the two preceding aforementioned bullets.
The local General Police Headquarter may examine the above documentation and issue the authorisation to request the visa at the foreign local Italian diplomatic representation office with reference to the domicile or the abode of the foreigner.
The Italian diplomatic or consular representative office shall issue or deny the visa within 120 days from filing of the request. The visa shall then be utilised by the prospective self-employing person within 180 days from issue and presented at the local Italian General Police Headquarter (i.e. questura) with reference to the elected place of work.
G. Family Members
Family members who accompany a foreign national to Italy must request special visas from the Italian consulate in their last country of residence (visto per ricongiunzione familiare o per motivi familiari). The visa is granted after having filed a specific application at the local General Immigration Office Counter (Soprtello Unico per l’Immigrazione – presso Ufficio territoriale del Governo). The following documentation is necessary in order to have the request filed: • • adequate documentation of the availability of a home that meets national minimum accepted living conditions. If the family member is less than 14 years of age the owner of the home shall grant his approval; a minimum aggregate annual income of all the family members arising from legal sources equal to the annual social maintenance check up to one family member or twice as much if the family members are more than 1 but less than 3. If the family members are 4 or more said amount is tripled.
The Office releases to the foreign individual or to his attorney at law the authorisation after having verified the existence of the declared requisites. The foreign national present said authorisation at the local Italian diplomatic representation. The diplomatic representation shall then release or deny the visa within 90 days after having received copy of the stamped documentation that was presented to said Office. The final sojourn permit for family reason is released by the Italian local General Police Headquarter Office (i.e. Questura).
H. Tax Considerations
Italy taxes residents on their world wide income. Non residents are taxed on income produced in Italy only, regardless of where it was paid. For taxation purposes, a resident of Italy is an individual who, for the most part of the year, falls in one of the following categories: • • • An individual who is registered in the Italian resident population records (anagrafe) for the greatest part of the tax period (i.e. calendar year); An individual with a main business activity and interests located in Italy (domicile); or An individual whose habitual residence or abode is located in Italy.
If an employee is paid by an Italian company, the taxes on his or her employment compensation are paid by means of withholding tax. The withholding taxes are equal to the employee's total tax burden, assuming he or she has no other deductions. If the employee earns other sources of income in Italy he or she has to file an annual tax return. The fiscal year of individuals subject to taxation in Italy equals the calendar year. Income tax must be paid within May of each following calendar year starting from May 1. The balance due may be paid in instalments added of an interest of 0,50% for each month of delay up to November. At time of payment of the tax balance of the fiscal period an advance payment of 40% of 98% (i.e. 39%) of said tax balance is due. The remaining 60% of 98% (i.e. 59%) is due as at November 30 of each year. Said second advance payment may not be paid in instalments. Late payments executed within 30 days after deadline is subject to a penalty of 3.75% of the tax due plus the legal interest calculated up to the date of payment. After 30 days but within the date of submittal of the tax return (generally, October 31), the late payment is subject to a penalty of 6%. After said deadline the penalty is 30% of the tax balance including the balance due plus legal interest. However, due the complexity of the annual tax return said deadlines are changed by the tax authorities year by year. Generally, the final deadline for payment without incurring into penalties is July 20. Income tax returns must be presented for filing within the period of May – July of the subsequent year. Transmission occurs personally by the taxpayer or through the authorized intermediary within October 31 of every subsequent year (1).
(1) Since the tax period 1998 tax returns are filed by computer and sent through INTERNET to the Finance Ministry. The deadline for the e-mail sending filing is postponed of one month but has been year by year set to October 31. The filing may be provided for only by authorised intermediaries (i.e. banks, post offices and authorised CPA) or may be done personally by downloading the pc program from Italian Finance Ministry web site after having registered according to law.
Relief from double taxation may be attained through tax treaties that Italy has with many countries, as well as through domestic tax law.
Italian social security legislation operates on the principle of territoriality; any time an employment relationship is wholly or partially carried out within Italian territory, the Italian social security law applies. The only exceptions to this general principle are found in EU regulations and bilateral agreements that Italy has signed with other countries. Relevant bilateral agreements should be consulted to determine what social security insurance is provided in a particular case. Any social security insurance that is not provided under a specific agreement must be paid in Italy, even if the employee chooses to contribute to the social security program in his or her home country. If all or some social security contributions are due in Italy, it is the employer's responsibility to pay both its contribution and the employee's contribution to the competent authorities. An individual must contribute to the Italian social security system for a minimum number of years before obtaining pension rights. For purposes of totalization, an employee must have contributed to Italian social security for at least one year before the years contributed in other EU-member countries are included in calculating the minimum for an Italian pension. For nationals of non-EU-member countries, reference must be made to the relevant social security agreement. Italy has social security agreements with the following countries: EU-member countries, countries under the European Economic Area (EEA) Treaty (Finland, Iceland, Norway), Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Croatia, Israel, Jersey and other Channel Islands, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. Said treaties allow to expatriates seconded in Italy to continue their social contribution in the country of employment without being mandatory subject to contribution in Italy. The secondment periods foreseen by the treaties entered by Italy are the following: • • • • • 6 months: 12 months: 12 months: 36 months: no limit Jersey and Channel Islands; UE-member States, Brazil, Yugoslavia, Monaco, Turkey; Argentina, Canada and Quebec, Cape Verde, Uruguay, Venezuela; Israel, Slovenia, San Marino, Tunisia U.S.A
The secondment period may be renewed for another equal period except for the treaty with Australia that does not foresee a secondment period. The secondment is granted by the social security authorities of the country of the company where the expatriate is employed.
I. Steps for Obtaining Drivers’ Permits
Foreign nationals may drive legally in Italy on their home country drivers' licenses if they also possess international drivers' licenses for six months from the date of documented entry into Italy. Italy has driver's license reciprocity with all EU-member countries, but not with the United States. To obtain an Italian driver's license, foreign nationals must take a driver education course, undergo written, physical and medical examinations, and register with the Italian resident population records.
J. Amministrative Address
Ministero Dell'Interno Questura – Ufficio Stranieri Rome Italy  (6) 465 (Last review: January 30, 2003)