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

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How many people does Italy grant work permits to every year?
A man works in vineyards on April 23, 2020 in Barolo, Langhe Region, near Cuneo, northwestern Italy, during the country's lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

If you’re planning to move to Italy for work from outside Europe, you’ll need to consider whether you qualify for a work permit under Italy’s ‘decreto flussi’, or foreign workers quota. Here's how many people are eligible.


One piece of good news for those planning a move is that the Italian government has increased the number of foreign workers allowed into the country this year

The government this week approved the latest annual decreto flussi (which translates as ‘flows decree’), the annual limit on the number of permits issued to those coming from outside the EEA to work.

READ ALSO: Freelance or employee: Which is the best way to work in Italy?

Up to 69,700 workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will be able to enter Italy for work purposes in 2022 under the quota.

This number is up significantly from 2021, when just over 30,000 non-EEA citizens were legally allowed to move to Italy for work.

Which types of workers can apply for a permit?

This year, the majority of permits (42,000) are for temporary seasonal workers, according to Italy's Ministry of Labour and Social Policies has confirmed. Of these, 14,000 are for agricultural workers.

Another 27,000 permits are available for those on “non-seasonal contracts” (employees) and self-employed workers. Of these, 20,000 spots are for people employed in road transport, construction and the tourism (hotel) sector.


Up to 100 places are specifically for workers from Venezuela of Italian origin "on the part of at least one of their parents up to the third degree of direct ancestry", according to the labour ministry.

Italy will allow another 100 admissions for foreign workers who have completed training and education in their country of origin, the ministry stated.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

A total of 500 places are reserved for self-employed workers again in 2022, as has been the case in previous years - and there are strict criteria for those applying. 

Eligible categories include "entrepreneurs carrying out activities of interest to the Italian economy that involve the use of their own resources of no less than €500,000 and coming from lawful sources," and resulting in “the creation of at least three new jobs".

Other categories include "artists of clear fame or of high and well-known professional qualification".

The remaining 7,000 places provided for under the decree are reserved for those who need to convert a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) held for other reasons, such as study, into a residence permit for work.


How do you apply?

The process begins with applying for the permit (nulla osta). You can access the application form here.

Applications open at 9am on January 27th for self-employed workers, employers of non-seasonal workers, and those converting an existing residency permit. Seasonal workers can apply from 9am on February 1st.

For seasonal and non-seasonal employment it is the employers who must apply, while for the self-employed and conversions, the applicant must complete the process themselves.

The application can only be filed online via the Interior Ministry’s website. You will need an Italian SPID electronic ID to do so - find out more about getting these credentials here.

On the application form, you will need to include details of where you’ll live in Italy as well as documents necessary for carrying out the work, such as a copy of the employment contract or any relevant licences.

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

Applications close on March 17th 2022 and will be processed by the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione (immigration office) in the chronological order in which they are received.

This means it’s important to begin the visa application procedure as soon as possible after the publication of the quota list - most quotas are filled within a few days. 

Any applications arriving after the quota is filled, or which are completed incorrectly, are rejected, and you can’t apply twice in the same year.

What happens next?

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).

If your permit application is successful, you can then apply for your visa. This must be done before you leave for Italy, at the Italian embassy or consulate in your country of origin.

From there, you may enter Italy, but still need to apply for an Italian residence permit within 8 days of arriving in Italy. The permesso di soggiorno is the documentation that allows you to legally stay in the country.

Note: The nulla osta is valid for six months. This means that you must enter Italy and apply for the residence permit within that six-month period.

Useful links:

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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