Despite the decrease in immigration, permanent immigration to Italy remains high, with foreign residents accounting for eight percent of the entire registered population in 2011, the OECD's 2013 International Migration Outlook report found, citing the 2011 Census.
The number of asylum seekers in the country rose to more than 34,000 in 2011 from 10,000 in 2010 in the wake of the 'Arab Spring', with the main countries of origin being Tunisia and Libya. However, out of 24,100 requests for asylum, only 30 percent had a positive outcome.
The majority of those who received work permits in 2011 came from Morocco (12,400), India (11,200) and China (10,300). A total of 15,200 visas for seasonal work were granted in the same year, led by workers from India and Morocco. Meanwhile, 2,000 permits were given for highly-skilled workers or those doing research-based work, with US citizens being the main recipients.
Asylum seekers from north Africa continue to arrive on Italy's coasts, with a total of 4,319 landing in the first five months of this year, according to figures from Italy's Interior Ministry.
During the same period, 13,304 were reported to have been repatriated. In April, Italy's coastguard rescued 213 migrants packed onto two large dinghies off the southern island of Lampedusa.
Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano yesterday called on the government to push ahead with immigration reforms, according to Italian press reports. Napolitano is reported to have said that Italy needs to “take stock of the immigration and asylum situation and carefully consider the limitations of our laws and practices surrounding citizenship.”