For members


Italian student visa: Five things you need to know about applying

If you’re planning to move to Italy to study, you may know you'll need a visa. But how does the application process work? Here's what to be aware of before you start.

Every year, thousands of students relocate to Italy – not simply because of the manifold amenities it has to offer but also because of the quality of its higher education system and its relatively low tuition fees.

With that being said, moving to Italy isn’t always a smooth process, especially for non-EU students.

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In fact, while EU citizens enjoy freedom of movement across the entire Union, international students are required to obtain a student visa before entering the country. If you’re not familiar with Italian bureaucracy, the ins and outs of the application process can be a headache.

So, to help you out, here are five things you need to know prior to applying.

What type of visa do I need?

This is entirely dependent upon the length of your chosen course and, in turn, of your stay in Italy. There are two types of student visas: a type-C visa and a type-D one. The former is for short stays (a maximum of 90 days), whereas the latter is for long ones (anything over the 90-day mark).

Now, given that most Italian academic courses last longer than three months, the majority of foreign students are required to obtain a type-D visa. As a result, that is going to be the subject of this guide.

If you do require a type-C visa to enter the country, you can find details on the Italian foreign ministry’s website here.

Where do I need to apply?

All applications for a type-D visa must be submitted to the Italian embassy or consulate of your own home country. Should you not know where your nearest Italian consulate is, filling out this online questionnaire will give you the answers you seek.

Before you do go ahead and start applying for an Italian student visa, you should make sure you have proof of pre-enrollment on an Italian university course. This can be easily requested and downloaded through the Italian universities’ official online portal Universitaly (a close relative of the British UCAS, if you will).

The moment you get the above-mentioned document, you can start filling out your application.

What do I need to apply?

Unfortunately, a whole lot of things, including the pre-enrollment paper we’ve just touched upon. 

Here’s the full list according to the Italian foreign ministry

  • Visa application form;
  • Recent passport-size photograph;
  • Travel document expiring at least three months after the expiry of the applied-for visa;
  • Proof of pre-enrollment in an Italian university course;
  • Proof that you have any type of accommodation in Italy (proof of a hotel booking is sufficient in this case); 
  • Proof that you have financial means which are sufficient to support your livelihood for the entire length of your stay (the Italian government sets the bar at 467 euros per month and bank statements are generally accepted as evidence);
  • Insurance coverage for medical treatment and hospitalisation (unless your home country has relevant ongoing agreements and/or conventions with the Italian government).

Find further details about the required paperwork on the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here and here.

You may notice that the ministry hasn’t provided an English-language version of the application form online (you can find the form in Italian here). Your best bet is to reach out to the Italian consulate in your own home country and request the latest English-language version of the form.

How much is the visa going to cost?

You’ll be charged 50 euros for “the administrative costs of processing the visa application”, the foreign ministry states.

Except in as-yet-unspecified “special cases”, fees are to be paid in the local currency (ie. euros).

Is a type-D visa the only thing I’ll need to enter Italy?

Yes…and no.

No document other than a type-D visa (or type-C one for shorter stays) is required to simply enter the country.

However, in order to lawfully remain in Italy for the entire length of your stay, you will have to apply for a residence permit (‘permesso di soggiorno’ in Italian) within 8 days of your arrival. The length of time this document will remain valid depends on the type of visa you have.

For more information about visa applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact the Italian consulate in your country.

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For members


What is the EU’s ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals and can I get one?

In 2020, 2.7 million non-EU citizens were issued a so-called "single permit" to both reside and work in the EU. But what is the single permit, how does it work and what could change in the future?

What is the EU's 'single permit' for third-country nationals and can I get one?

Among the recent proposals made by the European Commission to simplify the procedures for the entry and residence of non-EU nationals in the European Union, there is the reform of the ‘single permit’.

In 2020, 2.7 million non-EU citizens were issued a ‘single permit’ to both reside and work in the EU, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat. Five countries together issued 75% of the total, with France topping the list (940,000 permits issued), followed by Italy (345,000), Germany (302,000), Spain (275,000) and Portugal (170,000).

Seven in 10 single permits were granted for family and employment reasons (34 and 36 percent respectively) and just less than 10 percent for education purposes.

But what is this permit and how does it work?

What is the EU single permit?

The EU single permit is an administrative act that grants non-EU citizens both a work and residence permit for an EU member state with a single application.

It was designed to simplify access for people moving to the EU for work. It also aims to ensure that permit holders are treated equally to the citizens of the country where they live when it comes to working conditions, education and training, recognition of qualifications, freedom of association, tax benefits, access to goods and services, including housing and advice services.

Equal conditions also concern social security, including the portability of pension benefits. This means that non-EU citizens or their survivors who reside in a non-EU country and derive rights from single permit holders are entitled to receive pensions for old age, invalidity and death in the same way as EU citizens.

The single permit directive applies in 25 of the 27 EU countries, as Ireland and Denmark have opted out of all EU laws affecting ‘third country nationals’.

Who can apply for a single permit?

The directive covers non-EU nationals who apply to reside in an EU country for work or who are already resident in the EU for other purposes but have the right to access the labour market (for instance, students or family members of a citizen of the country of application).

As a general rule, these rules do not apply to long-term residents or non-EU family members of EU citizens who exercise the free movement rights or have free movement rights in the EU under separate laws, as their rights are already covered by separate laws.

It also does not apply to posted workers, seasonal workers, intra-corporate transferees, beneficiaries of temporary protection, refugees, self-employed workers and seafarers or people working on board of EU ships, as they are not considered part of the labour market of the EU country where they are based.

Each country can determine whether the application should be made by the non-EU national or the employer or either of them.

Applications from the individual are required for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden. For Bulgaria and Italy it is the employer who has to apply, while applications are accepted from either the recipient or the employer for Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

How long does it take to process the application?

The EU directive says the competent authority must decide on the application within 4 months from the date it was lodged. Only in exceptional circumstances the deadline can be longer.

Where no decision is taken within the time limit, national law determines the outcome. In some EU countries (including France, Italy and Spain) this is a tacit rejection while in others it is a tacit approval.

If the application is incomplete, the authority should notify the applicant in writing specifying which additional information is needed, and the time count should be suspended until these are received.

In case of rejection, the authority must provide the reasons and there is a possibility to appeal.

How does it work in practice?

Although the intention of the directive was to simplify the procedure and guarantee more rights, things always get complicated when it’s 25 countries turning rules into reality.

A 2019 report of the European Commission on how this law was working in practice showed that the directive “failed to address some of the issues it proposed to solve”.

The Commission had received several complaints and launched legal action against some member states.

Complaints concerned in particular excessive processing times by the relevant authorities, too high fees, problems with the recognition of qualifications and the lack of equal treatment in several areas, especially social security.

Only 13 countries allowed the transfer of pensions to non-EU countries. In France, invalidity and death pensions are not exportable to non-EU states. Problems were identified also in Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

In Italy single permit holders were excluded from certain types of family benefits and it was the EU Court of Justice that ruled, in September 2021, that single permit holders are entitled to a childbirth and maternity allowances as provided by Italian laws. The EU Court also rules that Italy and the Netherlands were charging too high fees.

Sweden restricts social security benefits for people living in the country for less than one year and takes too long to process single permit applications, according to the report.

Generally the report found that authorities were not providing sufficient information to the pubic about the permit and associated rights.

What will change?

As part of a package of measures to make working and moving in the EU country easier for non-EU nationals announced at the end of April, the European Commission has proposed some changes to improve the situation.

The Commission has suggested shortening the deadline for member states to issue a decision ensuring that the 4 month limit covers the issuing of visas and the labour market test (to prove there are no suitable candidates in the local market).

Under the proposal, fees should be proportionate and candidates should be able to submit the application both in the member state of destination and from a third country.

In addition, permit holders should be able to change employer during the permit’s validity, and the permit should not be withdrawn in case of unemployment for at least 3 months. These measures should reduce vulnerability to labour exploitation, the Commission says.

The Commission also suggests member states should introduce penalties against employers who do no respect equality principles especially with regard to working conditions, freedom of association and affiliation and access to social security benefits.

These proposals have to be approved by the European Parliament and Council and can be modified before becoming law.