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Reader question: Can I stay more than 90 days in Italy due to travel restrictions?

Travel has been heavily restricted around most of the globe for the past year, so are immigration authorities relaxing the rules about how long visitors can stay in Italy?

Reader question: Can I stay more than 90 days in Italy due to travel restrictions?
Will Italian authorities go easy on people who overstay in Italy due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Reader question: We are British and travelled to our second home in Italy in December when it was allowed to do so. Since then travel restrictions have been tightened and several of our flights have been cancelled so we have holed up here. But now the 90-day rule is in force will we have to leave by the end of March or has the rule been waived because of the difficulties in travelling?

Many people’s travel plans have been thrown into disarray over the last year. For many that has made trips to Italy impossible, while others have ended up staying longer than they planned.

But however topsy-turvy the world has become, there are still limits on how long certain groups can stay in the country.

For people who are not EU citizens – which from January 1st 2021 includes UK nationals – the 90-day rule comes into play.

You can find an explanation of how it works HERE, but essentially it limits trips into the Schengen zone to 90 days out of every 180. People who want to stay longer than 90 days in every 180 must apply for a visa (find out about the visas available to Brits HERE).

READER QUESTIONS:

So have these limits been waived during the Covid crisis?

The EU has issued some general advice on this, encouraging member states to grant extensions where necessary and waive sanctions on people who have overstayed due to travel restrictions.

For nationals of visa-waived third-countries who are compelled to stay beyond the extended 90/180 days, the competent national authorities should extend the validity of the authorisations for legal stay, issue a new one or take other appropriate measures that ensure a continued right to stay on their territory,” the European Commission recommends. This includes citizens of the UK, who don’t need a visa to enter Italy for a 90-day tourist visit.

“Overstays due to the temporary travel restrictions should not be taken into account during the processing of future visa applications,” the Commission says.

As ever, though, decisions on border issues remain with national governments within the EU.

Italian authorities have extended out-of-date visas and residence permits several times over the past year to reflect the difficulties of getting immigration paperwork processed during a public health emergency. Under its current emergency rules, expired permessi di soggiorno (residence permits) are valid until April 30th 2021.

But the rules are less clear for people who entered the country without a visa for what was only supposed to be a short stay and therefore do not have immigration papers.

READ ALSO: Why some Britons will have to leave EU countries by March 31st

The Local recently put this question to the British Embassy in Rome, who told us: “Any stays beyond the 90 days in any 180-day period will be dependent on the applicable visas and immigration rules of each EU member state. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit.

“British nationals should direct any queries on possible extensions to their length of stay with the local questura and be prepared to provide any extra documentation that may be required. 

“The Schengen Borders Code governs the rules for entry and exit in the Schengen Area for third-country nationals. Member State border forces are responsible for the implementation of the rules, including in emergency cases.

“The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is not in a position to comment on the enforcement or penalty policies of Schengen Area Member States. However, further information on the Schengen Borders Code is available on the European Commission’s website.  

“British nationals should discuss the specifics of their situation with their local questura (immigration office).”

Q&A: The British Embassy answers your questions about life in Italy after Brexit

If you decide it’s wisest to return to the UK, remember that Italy’s restrictions allow people to travel home if necessary.

While Italian residents are not allowed to visit the UK for tourism, people who live, work or study in the UK can travel there from Italy. The same applies to all non-EU countries on which Italy has travel restrictions.

In order to travel you will need extra paperwork and, depending on your destination country, a negative Covid test. Find more information on the rules HERE

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WORKING IN ITALY

How many work permits will Italy grant in 2023?

The Italian government is drawing up plans to allocate next year's batch of work permits under the new 'decreto flussi'. Here's what we know so far.

How many work permits will Italy grant in 2023?

Italy’s government is working on the next annual decree governing how many and which types of workers will be allowed to move to Italy next year for employment reasons.

At the end of every year, the Italian Labour Ministry publishes the next year’s decreto flussi, which translates as ‘flows decree’; the piece of legislation which governs the number of work permits available to those coming to Italy from outside of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA).

READ ALSO: How many people does Italy grant work permits to every year?

The government has not yet confirmed any details about the next decree, but the number of permits available is widely expected to be cut under the new Italian government, which has a strongly nationalist, anti-immigration stance.

Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, confirmed on Saturday that the government was working on a “strategy” for the 2023 decreto flussi, which is expected to be published at the end of December.

“We would like to have workers arrive in our country already trained” and with a job already lined up, he told reporters.

The Italian government is expected to offer a larger quota of work permits to countries that agree to sign repatriation agreements with Italy for irregular migrants, according to reports in Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The new decree is also expected to extend some types of work permit to two or three years – rather than permits having to be renewed after one year, as is currently the case.

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

It’s hoped that this change could ease the workload at Italian government offices which have reportedly faced problems in processing work permit applications due to a chronic shortage of staff.

The number of permits available to different categories of worker is subject to change under each decree, but the government has not given any indication as to which groups may be allocated a greater or lower number of permits this time.

The last decree, covering work permit applications for 2022, sharply increased the number of foreign workers allowed to come to Italy, to a total of 69,700, up from 30,000 in 2021.

Most of those permits (42,000) were for temporary seasonal workers, such as those working in agriculture or tourism.

However, the number of permits issued for some categories, such as self-employed workers, did not increase at all in 2022.

READ ALSO: What happened to Italy’s planned digital nomad visa?

Applications for work permits usually open at the end of January. Further details about the application process for 2023 will be available when the new decreto flussi is published.

Getting one of these permits is just the start. As a non-EEA citizen, there are three main documents you’ll need to live and work in Italy: a work permit (nulla osta), a work visa (visto) and a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno).

Find out more information about the types of Italian work visa available here.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases or assist with job applications.

For more information about visa and residency permit applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact your embassy or local Questura (police headquarters) in Italy.

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