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VISAS

Reader question: What happened to Italy’s planned digital nomad visa?

Italy's digital nomad visa was approved this March. Why haven't we heard any more about it since then, and when can we expect the permit to be finalised? Here's how things look.

What's going on with Italy's digital nomad visa?
What's going on with Italy's digital nomad visa? Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP).

Question: ‘I am extremely interested in the (theoretical) digital nomad visa that was approved earlier this year. I’m wondering what the current status is and what you might know about how the new election will affect the eventual availability of this visa?’

After Italy’s digital nomad visa was enacted into law at the end of March, the implementing decree setting out how exactly it would work should have been released within the following 30 days.

But we’re now midway through October and no such decree has been passed, which means no digital nomad visa – yet. So what happened to it?

The Italian Foreign Ministry, Labour Ministry and Interior Ministry all have to weigh in and sign off on the implementing decree, and the fact that it wasn’t released within the 30-day deadline likely means they weren’t able to find common ground, notes Pietro Derossi, an immigration lawyer at Lexia Avvocati.

And they’re unlikely to do so any time in the near future, thanks to the unexpected collapse of the government over the summer and Italy’s subsequent snap elections in September.

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

While those elections did result in a clear winner in the hard-right coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, the new government is still being formed – a process which will take several more weeks at least.

Once the government is sworn in, it will have several urgent issues to focus on, including presenting next year’s draft budget to the EU for approval (in a normal year, the deadline for this is mid-October), and addressing Italy’s cost of living and energy crises.

All of this means the digital nomad visa is unlikely to be at the top of the new government’s agenda. 

Then there’s the question of what view the next executive will take of the planned permit. The visa was proposed by MPs from the populist Five Star Movement, which is no longer in power, and approved by a broadly centrist coalition government with a very different set of priorities to that of Italy’s incoming leaders.

The Five Star MP backing the visa scheme, Luca Carabetta, was not re-elected to Italy’s new parliament and it’s unclear if others will push the scheme forward on his behalf.

READ ALSO: The five biggest challenges facing Italy’s new hard-right government

On the one hand, incoming prime minister Giorgia Meloni is staunchly anti-immigration (though focuses almost all her anti-migrant rhetoric on ‘illegal immigrants’ and asylum seekers) and is an impassioned promoter of nativist policies, who has accused previous administrations of trying to “replace” the Italian population with foreigners.

While Meloni has not criticised the digital nomad visa specifically, it’s reasonable to suspect she might not be the biggest champion of a scheme promising to make it easier for non-Italians to move to the country.

But at the same time, any government has to reckon with the fact that Italy is suffering from a brain drain and a steady population decline, combined with an increasingly ageing populace that needs supporting by an active workforce. Those behind the digital nomad visa suggest it could be one answer to this problem.

Exactly when we can expect an update on the visa’s progress, and what it might look like when finalised, is still unclear at this stage. Based on the current political situation, it will likely take several more months to be resolved – at the very least.

As Derossi writes: “The number of people who are enchanted by the possibility of pursuing the Italian dream while keeping their job is probably big. A lot is at stake, and we can expect only a very united set of ministers to be capable of finding an agreement on how to give birth to this new revolutionary type of visa.”

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WORKING IN ITALY

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.

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