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

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.

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

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).

READ ALSO: When and how should I renew my Italian residence permit?

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. 

READ ALSO: Which countries in Europe impose language tests for residency permits?

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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EXPLAINED: What’s an ISEE and when will you need one in Italy?

There are plenty of Italian acronyms new residents need to be familiar with, and this may be one of the most important. Here’s what it means and why you’ll need it.

EXPLAINED: What’s an ISEE and when will you need one in Italy?

Long-term Italian residents might be already familiar with the ISEE, but to others it’s no more than a mysterious-sounding acronym seen in reports about Italy’s many government ‘bonuses’ and subsidies.

ISEE stands for ‘Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente’, which roughly translates into English as Equivalent Financial Position Indicator.

In typically Italian fashion though, the full name is likely to leave you just as puzzled as the acronym.

Basically the ISEE is a parameter used by Italy’s government and public administration to gauge the overall economic situation of a household. 

It takes a variety of factors into account, though it is for the most part based on the ages, annual income, assets and any physical disabilities of the members of a household. 

You could think of the ISEE as a sort of ‘financial ID card’, which states your household’s level of wealth and financial security.  

READ ALSO: How foreign nationals can apply for an Italian ID card

Sooner or later, all Italian residents end up crossing paths with the ISEE, usually when accessing means-tested government financial subsidies.

For instance, recently-extended discounts on gas and electricity bills can only be claimed by households with an ISEE of up to 12,000 euros. 

ISEE thresholds are also set for Italy’s universal single allowance, nursery bonus and most exemptions in the public healthcare system.

However, a household’s ISEE status is not automatically calculated by the Italian public administration. So those looking to access a state subsidy must go about claiming their own ISEE certificate independently. 

How do get your ISEE certificate?

It may not come as a surprise to hear that getting an ISEE certificate isn’t nearly as straightforward as it should be.

For this reason, even Italian nationals tend to need the help of private professionals. 

Claiming the certificate revolves around completing the ‘Dichiarazione Unica Sostitutiva’ (Single replacement declaration, or DSU); a form asking claimants about their income, assets and size of their household.

Customer speaking with employee in a tax office in Italy

The ISEE system takes into account a variety of factors, including the age, annual income and assets of any given household member. Photo by Andreas SOLARO

You can complete this form yourself, or have your commercialista (accountant) or another professional do this for you.

INPS recently launched a new online service allowing residents can ask to receive a pre-filled DSU form – some questions are automatically answered based on records held by INPS and the Agenzia delle Entrate – and then proceed to complete the document by themselves. 

Once completed, the form must be submitted either to your local Centro di Assistenza Fiscale (Fiscal Support Centre, CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.

A DSU form can be submitted either to your local Fiscal Support Centre (CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.
More Italian bureaucracy:

It can be submitted at any time of year, with the resulting ISEE certificate valid until the end of that same year.

The ISEE certificate is usually available within 10 days of submitting the form, though there might be delays if the info given through the DSU doesn’t match the records kept by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Revenue Agency) and INPS. 

Once the certificate is ready, residents can choose to either have it delivered online in downloadable format or pick it up in person. 

The following INPS web page allows users to work out whether or not they might be eligible to claim certain state subsidies by ‘unofficially’ calculating their ISEE status.

Further info about how to get an ISEE certificate is available on the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Politics’ website (in Italian only).