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STUDYING IN ITALY

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.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

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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WORKING IN ITALY

Digital nomad: What are the rules on working remotely from Italy?

Many jobs can now be done from anywhere with only a laptop and a decent wifi connection - but what are the rules if you want to work remotely in Italy for a company back in your home country?

Digital nomad: What are the rules on working remotely from Italy?

Remote work, or even just working from home, was almost unheard of in Italy just a few years ago but that’s all changed since the pandemic.

These days it’s perfectly possible to be physically located in Italy while working remotely for a company based in the UK, the USA or elsewhere. More companies worldwide are open to the idea of remote working, and Italy’s internet connections are (gradually) improving.

So it seems easier than ever before to move abroad and take your existing job or freelance business with you.

But anyone considering doing this will also have to factor in paperwork: namely residency and work permits, and tax status.

What are the rules?

What you need to do depends on where you’re from and how long you intend to be in Italy for. 

If you want to live in Italy longer term, rather than just passing through for a short while, you’ll need to get some paperwork in order.

If you are an EU national, there will be no requirement to obtain a visa or work permit.

However, if you belong in this category you will need an Italian residence permit for stays longer than three months.

READ ALSO: Remote workers: What are your visa options when moving to Italy?

Person working on their laptop in a cafe

The rise in remote working means more people are looking to work temporarily in different countries. Photo: Alizée Baudez, Unsplash

If you’re from a country that doesn’t benefit from EU freedom of movement, you can take advantage of the 90-day rule, which means you can travel to Italy visa-free for up to 90 days in every 180.

See more details on these rules in a separate article here.

This may be enough if you only want to spend a short time in Italy before returning home. However, if you want to stay longer, you’ll most likely need a visa.

What type of visa will you need?

You might have heard the term Digital Nomad, which is usually used to describe someone spending a short time in a country, or moving between various countries while doing some short-term tech-based work – for example bloggers or Instagram influencers.

Italy doesn’t have a specific Digital Nomad visa – at least, not yet. One has been promised in Italy for some time, and was even approved earlier this year – but the process has now stalled and there’s no sign of it becoming available any time soon.

And unfortunately the options available at the moment are not always viable for self-employed freelancers and remote workers, immigration law experts say.

The self-employment visa, or visto per lavoro autonomo, is the permit that most non-EU freelancers would probably expect to apply for when seeking to move to Italy for work. 

But successful applications are rare. So rare, in fact, that Costanza Petreni, a senior immigration consultant at specialist law firm Mazzeschi, says she actively discourages clients from taking this route.

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

“We have so many clients asking for this type of application, because in the absence of a digital nomad visa there’s almost no other option. But what we tell them is it’s extremely hard and uncertain,” Petreni says.

As well as a low number of work permits available via this route (the limit has been set at 500 per year for the past few years) experts say another problem is the absence of clear guidance from consulates as to exactly what documentation applicants will need.

Here’s a breakdown of the visa options available at the moment for those hoping to work in Italy.

Find more information on the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website here, which details the visa requirements that may apply in your circumstances.

Will you need to pay Italian taxes?

This is often an area that trips people up if they work for international clients but live in Italy. Where do the taxes get paid to?

“If you live in Italy, you pay taxes in Italy,” clarifies tax expert Nicolò Bolla who runs Accounting Bolla.

If you’re a resident in Italy, your income will be subject to tax known as ‘Irpef’.

For employees, the employer is also required to pay the social security contributions to Italian Social Security Authority (INPS) – even if the employer is based outside Italy.

Different tax rates apply for freelancers with tax breaks available to new residents – and of course, you’re responsible for paying social security contributions too. 

You’ll need to file an annual tax return in Italy as stipulated by the worldwide taxation principle, which dictates that you must report your worldwide income and therefore file your taxes in the country where you reside.

You shouldn’t be paying your taxes twice, however, according to Italy’s Inland Revenue or tax office (Agenzie delle Entrate).

“Italy has bilateral agreements with many foreign countries to avoid double taxation on income and capital. These agreements establish the range of the power of the two states to set taxes,” to the Italian tax authority’s website says.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. For more information on visa applications, consult the Italian embassy or consulate in your country or an immigration law professional.

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