Of the EU’s 28 member countries, Italy issued the third-highest number of foreigners' first resident permits, a total of 243,954, a Eurostat report revealed on Wednesday.
Only the UK and Poland issued more permits than Italy with 724,248 and 273 886 respectively.
In Italy 108,358 of permits issued were for family reasons – the highest number in the EU. The country was followed closely by Spain, which issued 107,620 permits for family reasons.
The largest group of non-EU citizens to be issued resident permits in Italy were Moroccan citizens, with a total of 25,165, followed by the Chinese with 19,967 and Albanians with 15,890.
A total of 2.36 million first-time residence permits were issued overall in the EU in 2013, with the majority of beneficiaries being from Ukraine, followed by India and the US.
The number shows an increase of 12.5 percent compared with 2012, but a decrease of seven percent compared with 2008’s figures.
This decrease is mainly due to the fall in the number of first permits issued for employment reasons (from 0.8 million in 2008 to 0.5 million in 2013), Eurostat said.
Across the EU, 28.5 percent of first-time residence permits were issued for family reasons, 19.7 percent for education reasons, and 22.7 percent for employment reasons. Twenty-nine percent were issued for other reasons.
The new figures come as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promises to make it easier for children born to foreigners in Italy to get citizenship.
On Tuesday Education Minister Stefania Giannini announced that Italian language lessons will be introduced for immigrant children in schools, in a “fundamental” move to promote integration.