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VISAS

EU Blue Card: Who can get one in Italy and how do you apply?

If you need a visa to work in Italy, could an EU Blue Card be the right option for you? Here’s what to know about taking this lesser-used route.

Woman typing on a laptop
The EU Blue Card is a valuable option to move to Italy for work. Photo by Christin HUME via Unsplash

All non-EU citizens planning to move to Italy for work will need a valid work visa. The two most commonly used types are self-employment visas (visti per motivi di lavoro autonomo) and salaried employee visas (visti per motivi di lavoro subordinato).

READ ALSO: How to get an Italian work visa

But for employees, there is a second, less talked-about option: the EU Blue Card

First introduced in May 2009 by the European Council, the Blue Card scheme allows highly qualified non-EU nationals to live and work in any member state except Ireland and Denmark. 

The benefits afforded by the EU Blue Card vary from country to country. In Italy, card holders on open-ended employment contracts have the right to remain in the country for two years (the card can then be renewed or be allowed to lapse), whereas those who are on fixed-term contracts are allowed to stay for the entire length of their contract.  

More importantly, unlike Italy’s standard salaried worker visa, the EU Blue Card scheme is not subject to the limitations imposed by the ‘decreto flussi’, a government decree which sets out Italy’s changing annual quota for work permits. 

This means that, while there are only so many employee visas available per year, Blue Card applicants face no such limit.

Photo: Marco Ceschi/Unsplash

But that’s not to say getting a Blue Card to relocate to Italy is easy: applicants are subject to a stringent set of requirements and the process is far from straightforward.

Requirements

There are four main requirements which EU Blue Card applicants must meet, according to the Italian interior ministry.

Applicants must:

  • Have an undergraduate degree. In order to be accepted by Italian immigration offices, this will have to be validated (dichiarazione di valore) by the Italian consulate of the applicant’s own country of residence. Also, in the case of regulated professions, i.e. occupations that require registration with professional boards or national bars (teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.), all the relevant professional qualifications will have to be certified by the Italian education ministry (MIUR) beforehand.
  • Have a binding job offer from an employer based in Italy.
  • Be offered a position that falls within Level 1, 2 or 3 of the Italian Institute of Statistics’ official jobs classification.
  • Be offered a salary equal to or over 24,789 euros.

Application process

Italian bureaucracy is famously hard to navigate and applying for a EU Blue Card is no exemption. 

The first stages of the application process however are handled directly by the employer, which makes it slightly easier for applicants.

After making a formal job offer and once the candidate accepts it, the employer files an online application for a work permit (nulla osta) via the interior ministry’s website. 

READ ALSO: ‘Not just extra paperwork’: What it’s like moving to Italy after Brexit

The application contains the details of the job offer (duration of the contract, job specification, salary, etc.) together with validated copies of the candidate’s degree award and all their other relevant qualifications (see above). 

Italy’s interior ministry has 90 days to process the request, after which, if the application is successful, the applicant will be issued a work permit and will be asked to collect their entry visa (visto di ingresso) from their country’s consulate.

After entering Italy through the above visa, the applicant will have eight days to go to their local immigration office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione, SUI), fill out an application form for the issuance of a EU Blue Card residence permit (permesso di soggiorno Carta Blu UE) and then post it to their local police station (Questura). 

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

Failure to turn up at the immigration office and post the application form within the given time frame will result in the nulla osta being revoked. 

Once the permit is ready, the applicant will be asked to collect it at their local Questura, officially completing the application process.

EU Blue Card residence permits have a two-year validity for people on open-ended contracts, whereas they expire at the end of employment for people on fixed-term contracts.

Common questions:

How much does the application process cost? 

There’s a 100-euro application fee plus a number of other administrative costs adding up to a total of around 75 euros.

Can I change my job while on a EU Blue Card residence permit?

Yes, if your new position requires the same level of skill and expertise required by your original position.

All changes must be communicated to and then approved by your local labour inspectorate (Ispettorato Territoriale del Lavoro).

Can I renew my EU Blue Card residence permit?

Yes. Renewal requests must be submitted directly at your regional police station’s immigration office (Questura).

Can I take family members with me?

Holders of EU Blue Card residence permits with validity of at least one year have the right to be joined in Italy by the following family members (see articles 28, 29 of the Immigration Bill): 

  • Legal spouse
  • Children under the age of 18
  • Children over the age of 18 only if they’re financially dependent on the Italian residence permit holder due to serious disability
  • Parents over the age of 65 only if no children of theirs reside in their country of residence and no children can support them financially due to serious health problems

In order to be joined by the above family members, EU Blue Card holders must have:

  • Adequate housing
  • Minimum annual income (this depends on the number of family members joining the applicant)

In order to be joined by family members, Blue Card holders must submit a request at their local immigration office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione) and provide proof of their relationship with the relevant family members.

If the request is successful, the Blue Card holder’s family members are given a residence permit for family purposes (permesso di soggiorno per motivi di famiglia) with the same duration as the Blue Card residence permit.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For further information on the EU Blue Card and how to apply, visit the Italian interior ministry’s website.

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For members

WORKING IN ITALY

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023

Italy has released details of the number of work permits available this year and which types of workers can apply. Here's what to know if you're thinking of moving to Italy for work from outside the EU.

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023

Each year, the Italian government sets out exactly how many work permits it will grant to non-EU citizens. and for which industries.

The Italian government released the details of the 2023 quota at the end of January, confirming that a total of 82,705 permits will be available this year.

This is significantly higher than in previous years, with just under 70,000 permits issued in 2022, and 30,000 in 2021.

Some 44,000 of this year’s permits are intended for seasonal workers, in industries including agriculture and tourism.

READ ALSO: How to get an Italian work visa

Most of the remaining permits are reserved for those on longer-term employment contracts, and the majority of those can only be allocated to firms hiring workers in the following sectors:

  • Road haulage
  • Construction
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Mechanics
  • Telecommunications
  • Food
  • Shipbuilding

However this year’s decree also brings in new and stricter criteria for issuing these permits.

For non-seasonal permits, employers must now confirm with Italian government employment agencies that no qualified Italian nationals are available to do the jobs before putting in an authorisation request.

READ ALSO: The jobs in Italy that will be most in demand in 2023

This requirement is waived for workers who have completed training programmes in their country of origin that are specifically designed to send workers to Italy. Find further details from the Italian labour ministry here (in Italian).

Applications for this year’s permits will open on March 27th.

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 residency permit (permesso di soggiorno).

Find out more information about the types of Italian work visa available here.

Self-employed workers

As in previous years, in 2023 only 500 permits in total have been made available to self-employed workers. Those eligible include artists, and entrepreneur investors who will create at least three jobs in Italy, but competition for these limited place is fierce.

While Italy approved a ‘digital nomad’ visa in March 2022 that many hoped would make it easier for freelance workers to move to Italy, there have been no updates since and the plan now seems to have been abandoned by Italy’s new government.

The new decree setting out Italy’s 2023 work permit quota does not cover visa rules, so there was no mention of it here.

EU Blue Card

There is one possible way for highly-qualified workers to move to Italy for work outside of the work permit quota: The EU Blue Card is available to non-EU nationals, and the requirements include an undergraduate degree and a firm job offer from an Italian company, with a salary of at least €24,789.

Find out more about the EU Blue Card scheme in a separate article 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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