Italy approves ‘digital nomad’ visa for remote workers

For 'highly qualified' remote workers planning to base themselves in Italy, a new visa option is soon expected to offer an easier route.

Italy approves ‘digital nomad’ visa for remote workers
With remote working more common than ever due to the pandemic, Italy is making special visa provisions. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

After weeks of speculation and doubt, the Italian ‘digital nomad visa’ was approved and signed into law this week according to lawmakers.

Italy now looks set to join EU countries including Germany and Portugal in offering a special visa allowing remote workers to move to Italy from outside the European Union.

READ ALSO: What do we know so far about Italy’s digital nomad visa?

A provision for a new digital nomad visa was included in Italy’s ‘decreto sostegni ter‘, a government decree which was approved in January and converted into law on March 28th.

It’s hoped that the new digital nomad visa will mean a far easier route to a new life in Italy than the current visa options available, which immigration experts say are not always viable for freelancers and remote workers.

While it is possible for many non-EU nationals to spend up to 90 days in Italy without a visa, anyone wishing to work legally while here must apply for a visa and work permit

However, with the details of the new visa still to be confirmed, it’s not yet clear how much easier the new route will be.

“We are happy to have approved the proposal but we are also aware of the next steps. The government has to work on a new bill to implement the law, defining all the procedures and details,” Five Star Movement MP Luca Carabetta, who promoted the digital nomad visa, told The Local.

“We worked all along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this and we are sure they will lead this process,” he added.

READ ALSO: How to get an Italian work visa

This means it could still be some time until the Italian government publishes full details of the visa application process and requirements.

The text of the bill stated that the visa will be for those “who carry out highly qualified work activities through the use of technological tools that allow them to work remotely, autonomously or for a company that is not resident in the territory of the Italian state.

As for who counts as a “highly qualified” worker, financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore writes that this category includes everyone “from university professors to circus employees, seafarers and professional nurses”.

Il Sole said that these professionals will not be subject to the restrictions on the number of work permits issued annually under Italy’s decreto flussi (the foreign workers’ quota), but that “their entry is in any case subject to the issue of a work permit which must be requested by their employer”.

Carabetta said the approval provides for “the establishment of a dedicated visa and permit lasting one year, which can be extended for a further year and can be extended to the family unit of the remote worker”.

Application looks set to entail a minimum income requirement, though the amount is not yet known.

According to Carabetta, “Requirements for the remote worker are the availability of suitable accommodation, adequate income, health insurance, and a clean criminal record.”

Existing visa options available to non-EU remote workers moving to Italy include the self-employment visa, intra-company visa, and the EU Blue Card. Find out more about those here.

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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.