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VISAS

What type of visa will you need to move to Italy?

If you're planning to move to Italy from outside the European Union, the first step is getting a visa. But which one will you need? Here's a look at the different visa types available to help you get started.

What type of visa will you need to move to Italy?
The view from Rome's Capitoline Hill. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Non-EU citizens planning to stay in Italy for more than three months will need a visa (visto). And the type you’ll need to apply for depends on the reason you want to live in Italy.

If you’re a citizen of a country covered by European Union freedom of movement rules, visa requirements do not apply but you will need an Italian residence permit for stays longer than 90 days.

READ ALSO: ‘Do your homework’: An American’s guide to moving to Italy

For everyone else, this article looks at Italy’s long stay visas, also known as the ‘Type D’ or ‘D-Visa’. This is the type of visa you’ll need to get if you want to stay in Italy longer than 90 days – eg. when moving here for study, work, family reasons, or retirement.

Remember that a long-stay visa allows you to enter Italy. After that, you will also have to get an Italian residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) in order to be allowed to stay for longer than 90 days. 

With that said, here’s a look at the most commonly-used types of Italian long-stay visas:

For employees: work visa

If you’re a citizen of another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you don’t need a permit to work in Italy.

If you’re from another country, you will need a work visa. You will also need to check the requirements according to the type of work you intend to do, as Italy uses a quota system for visas for lots of occupations.

Italy is planning to introduce a special ‘digital nomad’ visa for remote workers, which would operate outside the quota system. It’s not in place yet but here’s everything we know about it so far.

You must find a job before applying for the visa. The good news is that your employer will then complete most of the visa application process for you. All you need to do is provide them with the relevant paperwork.

Your employer will apply for permission to hire a migrant worker from the immigration desk at their local Prefettura (prefecture, the regional office of the central government). They will then be given your authorization to work. The Prefettura will inform the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country that your application can go ahead.

Your local embassy will provide you with an entry visa, which should take less than 30 days. You’ll have six months from the date of authorization to visit your local Italian embassy and collect your visa.

READ ALSO: ‘The job can come as a shock’: What it’s really like working as an English teacher in Italy

Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

For students: student visa

Non-EU students are required to obtain a student visa prior entering Italy.

There are two types of student visas in Italy, depending on the duration of the study program:

  • Type C: Short-stay visa or travel visa (for a period not exceeding 90 days).
  • Type D: Long-stay visa (for more than 90 days).

When applying you should provide a letter of acceptance to your course in Italy, as well as proof of accommodation, sufficient financial means and health insurance.

READ ALSO: Five things to know before you apply for an Italian student visa

For people with relatives in Italy: family visa

There is a visa available for dependents of an Italian citizen, or a non-EU citizen with an Italian permit of stay. This allows entrance in Italy to their spouse, children or dependent parents.

You will need to provide evidence of your relationship with the person whose dependent you will be, for instance marriage or birth certificates.

For entrepreneurs, artists and qualified professionals: self-employed visa

Foreign citizens can also apply for a visa in order to start a company in Italy, to work as a qualified, self-employed professional (for instance an accountant or translator) or as a professional artisan, artist or athlete, or to take a corporate managerial role.

Applicants must demonstrate that they have the equivalent qualifications and meet the same conditions required of Italians doing the same activity.

Photo: Andreas Solaro

For people with money: investor visa

Italy offers a “golden visa” for those planning to invest in strategic assets in Italy. Both non-EU citizens and people from within the Schengen zone can apply.

In exchange for a minimum investment of €500,000 to €2 million in certain companies, charities or government bonds, the visa entitles you two years’ residency, renewable for further three-year periods, and special tax benefits. Investors’ families are eligible to apply for dependent visas.

Read more about applying for the investor visa here.

For retirees: elective residency visa

This lesser-known type of visa is designed for those who want to live in Italy and have the financial means to support themselves without working. It is often referred to as a retirement visa.

The Italian Consulate of San Francisco describes it as being for people who “wish to reside permanently in Italy and who can demonstrate a stable and ample pension income and high financial resources”.

READ ALSO: ‘What I wish I’d known’: An American’s advice on getting residency in Italy

It is not for extended vacations or sabbaticals. Nor is it for anyone who wants to work in Italy – even freelance or remotely – or who does not have the means to support themselves without a job.

But if you’re an independent retiree looking to move to Italy, it might just be for you. Find out more about applying for the elective residency visa here.

For young people: working holiday visa

Italy also has a a type of visa available only to people aged 18-30 from certain countries under a working holiday program.

Currently, Italy has Working Holiday Visa agreements with the following countries and the requirements vary for each:

Young people aged 18-30 from the above-mentioned countries can apply for this visa, which allows them to live and work in Italy for up to a year.

Note:

Whichever type of visa you need, you should apply for it at the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country before you leave. Bear in mind that the process can take a while – it’s best to ask your embassy for an idea of the required timeframe and then start as early as you can.

And remember that your visa isn’t the only permission you’ll need if you want to live in Italy. 

After you enter Italy with a long-stay visa, you have 8 days to apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). The length of time this document will remain valid depends on the type of visa you have.

Find out more about the process of applying for a residency permit once you arrive in Italy here.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on specific cases. For more information about visa applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact your embassy or local Questura in Italy

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For members

MOVING TO ITALY

‘Why I ditched my UK corporate career for an abandoned Italian vineyard’

Many people dream of enjoying a slower pace of life in rural Italy after decades of the 9-5. But some make the leap much earlier. One former UK professional tells Silvia Marchetti how she swapped the London office grind for winemaking and never looked back.

‘Why I ditched my UK corporate career for an abandoned Italian vineyard’

At some point in life living the dream means abandoning one’s job, and this usually happens when people retire and think about what to do next. 

But one UK professional made the opposite choice: in her early 20s, she decided to ditch a promising career in the corporate and consultancy sector to move to deepest rural Italy and recover her ancestors’ long-lost vineyard. 

Scottish-Italian Sofia di Ciacca, with two degrees in law and history of art, worked for four years at KPMG in London and Edinburgh before she took the opportunity to do something different in life.

Her ancestors, who hailed from the tiny village of Picinisco in the province of Frosinone, Lazio, had migrated to Scotland decades ago. Every time she visited Italy as a child during the holidays, Sofia would feel the pull of her roots.

READ ALSO: ‘What we learned from moving to Italy and opening a B&B’

“I found myself presented with an opportunity very young, thanks to my family’s historical connection to the area, and thought: I either take time to build a career, or I can grab this chance,” she says.

“When you’re building a career, you already know what your trajectory will be: that you’ll be in an office here, and another office there. I realised I didn’t want that.”

At 23 she asked herself: why do later in life what I can do now? 

Sofia at work. Photo credit: Sofia Di Ciacca

This awareness took a while to develop, she says.

“As a child when I returned to Italy it was only as a holiday, not my day-to-day life. Imagine a young girl from Scotland, who had to learn about wine. I never thought about it when I was young.”

“Picinisco is so real, out of my comfort zone. That fascinated me”. 

Sofia, now 33, says she decided “to create something of value, that lasts in time and memory”.

Her family had started renovating old buildings in the area, and supported her career leap, but the wine business was something she was going to personally handle and dedicate years of sacrifice, study and hard work to building.

READ ALSO: ‘Do your homework’: An American’s guide to moving to Italy

Sofia had to learn from scratch, in a job that wasn’t quite like sitting in an office in front of a computer, and that required specific physical and social skills. 

She spent around four years studying the secrets of winemaking with Italian wine consultants in other parts of Italy, mainly on vineyards in Tuscany, where she learnt how to clean tanks, press grapes, plant vines, organise and run a canteen, and do the vendemmia (grape harvest). 

“I did traineeships, met experts, other international wine students, and all this helped me to grow,” she explains.

“The wine world is very complicated, you need to learn basic principles and engineering before you can even fathom how to start anything. Only once you learn, study, then you can have your own say, go see how local farmers work, understand how deep they plough the soil”.

Almost 10 years later, her winery now produces premium wines, honey and extra virgin olive oil. The wine is from an ancient grape variety grown in the area, called Maturano, of which production had been forsaken when local families migrated. 

She says it’s all a matter of gaining self-confidence built on hard graft, and it’s best to be honest and humble about things you don’t know, and are willing to be taught. Understanding the “rural respect for farmers” was key for her.

Sofia in the vineyard. Photo credit: Sofia Di Ciacca

One challenge was figuring out how to split her life between two countries: Scotland and Italy, and deciding where to locate the sales site, whether it was best to be in the cantina in Picinisco or marketing her products in Edinburgh. She says the balance is still not perfect.

But the toughest obstacle was tackling Italian bureaucracy. 

“I shed a lot of tears. The regulations hindered the business, like getting grants. You really need to follow the rules, understand the system, get the right people to advise you,” she says.

“But above all, stay honest. People will try to befriend you pretending to help, but it’s not worth it. As foreigners at the beginning you just don’t know how things work in Italy, you need to ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to do that”. 

READ ALSO:

Another feat was the practical side of wine-making itself, which requires a lot of physical work, from hand-picking the grapes in the organic vineyard to getting the winery in shape. 

“You need to get physically fit, and the machinery at first was really not for me,” Sofia says. 

“I wasn’t great at understanding how it worked but luckily I had the right people to teach me”. 

The first harvest came after years of tough vineyard revival. The six-hectare vineyard produces some 30,000 bottles a year, which have already won three international prizes. Alongside the premium white 100 percent Maturano wine, it also yields a sweet amber-coloured passito wine. 

Sofia with her children. Photo credit: Sofia Di Ciacca

“I’ve always been fascinated by grapes, passionate about how they turn into wine,” Sofia says. 

“Recovering the indigenous Maturano variety was a success, it grew well with the fertile soil and the climate. The grapes are left to do the talking, no yeasts are used.”

In the meantime, it’s become a family affair: Sofia got married – her husband, also Scottish-Italian, is a wine importer – and their two toddlers have now started taking part in the vendemmia.

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