How many residence permits does Italy grant to non-EU nationals?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
How many residence permits does Italy grant to non-EU nationals?
Italy issued 274,100 residence permits in 2021, a 31-percent increase on the previous year. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

More than 274,000 non-EU nationals were granted the right to reside in Italy in 2021, marking a sharp increase on previous years according to new Eurostat data.


In 2021, Italy issued some 274,100 first-time residency permits to non-EU nationals - a whopping 159-percent increase on the previous year.

In fact, Italy was the EU country with the largest year-on-year increase in the number of residence permits granted to non-EU nationals, according to a new Eurostat report.  

The number of permits issued to non-EU nationals by the Italian government in 2020 was 105,700.


The 2021 figure represented nine percent of the total number of residency visas issued across the EU.

Italy issued the fourth-highest number of permits of any EU country, after Poland (967,300), Spain (371,800) and France (285,200).

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However, Italy actually granted relatively few residence permits relative to the size of its population: just under five permits per 1000 inhabitants in 2021.

This was among the lowest ratios in the EU – Romania sat at the bottom of the table with 1.5 permits per 1000 residents.

In terms of the types of residence permits granted over the course of last year, Italy was the second EU country for the number of permits issued on family-related grounds (120,500 permits, equivalent to 44 percent of the country’s total) and the sixth member state for the number of residence permits issued for employment-related reasons (50,600 permits, equivalent to 18.5 percent of the total).

Study-related permits (17,807 - 6.5 percent) and permits falling into the ‘Other’ category (85,171 - 31.1 percent) completed the picture. 

As for the nationalities of those who received Italian residence permits in 2021, Albanian nationals made up the biggest group (29,732), followed by people from Morocco (23,766), Pakistan (18,232), Bangladesh (17,987) and Nigeria (12,787). 

There were 5.2 million foreign residents in Italy as of January 1st 2022, according to Italian national statistics office Istat. The country has a total population of just under 59 million.

Italy’s foreign population statistics can vary depending on the source of the data. In particular, data provided by Istat often differ slightly from those provided by European statistical offices such as Eurostat.

EU trends

Taking the EU as a whole into consideration, the number of residence permits issued to foreign nationals increased by 31 percent between 2020 and 2021 (+693,700). 

This notable year-on-year increase was mainly driven by a rising number of permits issued for employment and education reasons. 

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Compared with 2020, there was a 47-percent increase (+429,100) in residence permits issued for employment-related reasons and a 42-percent increase (+105,000) in residence permits for education-related reasons.

The number of residence permits issued on a yearly basis across the Union has roughly doubled over the past decade, going from 1.5 million in 2011 to just under 3 million in 2021.


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