Obtaining Work and Residence Permits in Italy for non-EU families

Moving to Italy to live and work might sound like a dream come true but there is a large amount of paperwork that you will have to submit before leaving your home country. Before packing your case, you will need to find work with an Italian company who will also sponsor your residence in Italy. Further visa requirements must also be fulfilled in order for legal employment in the country.

The Schengen visa application form is the main document required for foreign nationals seeking to obtain an Italian work permit. However, several other pieces of specified documentation will also be required. These include a letter from the applicant’s employer at home, stating why they are expected in Italy and giving the dates and duration of the proposed stay; an original letter of invitation from the company in Italy where the applicant proposes to work; and proof of means of economic support in Italy.

Labour certification must be received by international workers after their submission of the visa application. This certification is issued by the Provincial Labour Office. Labour certification indicates that the worker is skilled enough to be employed in this position and that they have not taken the job of an existing Italian citizen.

An employer sponsor in Italy is required before this certification will be issued. A simple letter from a foreign employer is not sufficient for labour certification, and the employer must complete a lengthy clearance application that is separate from the visa application.

Only after the visa application and the labour certification are approved can a worker legally enter Italy for employment.

Obtaining an Italian residence permit in Italy (certificato di residenza) requires a suitable address. Bear in mind that some rental contracts forbid apartment addresses for this purpose. Documentation including a valid passport, a valid permit to stay in the country, and a completed declaration of residence (dichiarazione di residenza) form, which is available from your town hall (comune), are required. Additionally, a consular declaration (dichiarazione consolare) from your country’s consulate in Italy must be presented. This should contain your name and surname, father’s name, mother’s name, place and date of birth, civil status (with name of spouse if married), date and place of the wedding if applicable, date of your spouse’s death if you’re a widow(er), nationality, and details of other members of your family.

Once your application has been received, you will be given a certificate which states that you have applied and covers you for three months while your application is processed. It can be renewed if necessary. A decision on whether to grant your first residence permit must be made by the authorities within six months of your application.

A residence permit for an EU national is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. Your family will be issued with a residence permit for the same period to make the move easier to coordinate. This residence permit is still valid even if you don’t live in Italy for up to six months or if you’re doing military service in your own country. If you decide to change residence, you will have to declare it at the police headquarters where you live within 15 days of moving home. Your new address will be entered on your residence permit.

This right of residence means you can ship your personal effects from abroad without paying duty or VAT. You will be able to buy land or property, a car, open a resident bank account, apply for an Italian driving license, obtain an identity card, get health care and send your children to a local school. You won’t have the right to vote in Italian parliamentary elections, however.

If you are planning to stay in Italy for more than a few months, applying for residence is highly desirable. Unlike most other EU countries, anyone staying in Italy for longer than 183 days a year isn’t legally required to apply for residence. Foreigners who have obtained residence can obtain an Italian identity card from their local registry office. All non-Italian nationals must renew their residence status within 60 days of renewing their permit to stay and may be subjected each time to a visit from the ‘vigile urbano’.

Once the visa application and labour certification application have both been submitted, the Italian police will make a final determination and issue an entry clearance, or “nulla osta.” This entry clearance can take up to 120 days to process and can be denied at the discretion of the Italian officials for any reason. Once the entry clearance is granted, the applicant is cleared to work in Italy.

To enter the country, copies of all documents are required, including the passport, visa, labour certification and police entry clearance. If these documents are not presented upon entry, the worker faces possible expulsion from the country.

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