British citizens in Italy are concerned about the contents of a new government decree published last week which, while it offered some clarity on what they'll face if the UK leaves Europe without a deal, also brought up many new questions and concerns.
Brits applying for a long-term residency permit after five years of living in Italy would be required to show they'd not been out of Italy for more than a total of ten months in that five-year period – a far stricter requirement than for EU citizens.
How exactly they'd be expected to prove this is unknown, and campaigners are now asking for clarifications – or for the requirement to be scrapped.
Applicants would also be subject to fingerprinting and would have to pay a fee of between €80-€200 for the new status, the government said.
The decree sets out the bare bones of what British citizens resident in Italy can expect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
As third-country nationals, or extracomunitari, Brits who've been resident in Italy for five years or more at the date of Brexit would need to apply for a new permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo status.
Those applying for the new form of residency after five years in Italy would “only be permitted to have been away from Italy for periods not exceeding five months individually and a cumulative total of 10 months in the five years,” British in Italy stated in their most recent update on the decree.
Some angry British residents in Italy took to social media to accuse the Italian government of “moving the goalposts” and said the proposed new restrctions on travel were unworkable.
“The absences allowed while calculating the five years residence period are much less generous than those for EU citizens, and are expressed as a condition of acquiring long-term residence as a third country national,” British in Italy explained in their updated summary of the decree released on March 25.
The cumulative total of ten months is “particularly concerning”, the group said, and “might well have been exceeded by many who have been out of Italy quite lawfully while the UK was a member of the EU – whether studying in another EU country including UK, on holiday, for short periods of work or to look after a family member.”
“Furthermore, many will have no proper record of the dates of absences.”
The group also pointed out that the decree doesn't make clear how the potential application process would work.
It's not known if qualifying Brits registered at their local Italian anagrafe will get this new status “almost automatically” by simply proving that they're registered, or “whether we have to satisfy all the conditions for this status such as a minimum income and possibly health insurance which the EU Directive 109/2003 on which the law is based does require.”
“And what will be required to evidence or prove the periods of absence?” they asked.
These terms would apply only if the UK fails to reach any other agreement with the EU, and only from the date the UK actually withdraws.
British in Italy gave a full list of their concerns about the decree in their most recent update, and say they're now seeking clarification on these issues from the Italian government.
They added: “Please remember this new legislation is just necessary planning for a no-deal situation which we certainly hope is not going to take place at all.”
You can find the full decree online here (in Italian); see articles 14, 15 and 17 for the sections on citizens' rights.
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