Immigration Categories

A brief description of corporate immigration categories by assignment type follows. The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common category for corporate transfers in our experience is an intra-company transfer. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (investors, special programs), please contact your representative.

  • New Hires: Note that there is a quota system. Quotas are published once or twice a year providing categories of positions and nationalities that are eligible to apply for work authorization. Approval is only possible for those that fit the quota categories and meet the other criteria during the period of time when quota slots are still available.
  • Intra Company Transfers: The employee should have worked for the overseas company for at least six (6) months, should have substantial company knowledge and fill a key role.

Typical Process Overview

The following process overview is applicable to the intra-company transfer application process for nationals of countries outside the European Union. The approximate overall processing time from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in Italy is three (3) to five (5) months. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. In Italy, the document gathering stage of the process is particularly labor intensive, as many documents must be legalized and translated. We can assist with this if required. See the “Application Materials” section below for further details. Average processing time for each individual step is noted below.

Step One: Work Permit (Nulla Osta al LavoroI)/Family Nulla Osta Application
Processing Time:
Approximately three (3) to four (4) months

The application for a Work Permit (Nulla Osta al Lavoro) is prepared and filed at the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione. The application is filed online on the website of the Ministry of Interior. This is approved by the Prefecture and the Direzione Provinciale del Lavoro (which checks salary) internally. The Sportello Unico is the office that deals with these two (2) departments and communicates any requirement of additional document or notice to the employer/our representative in Italy. Depending on nationality of the family, we may also need to submit an accompanying family member clearance (Family Nulla Osta) at this stage. Please note that the Nulla Osta can be issued with validities of six (6), twelve (12), or twenty-four (24) months, but this must be requested on the initial application. When submitting the Nulla Osta application, proof of a hotel address or temporary residence address is required.

Step Two: Work/Dependent Visa Application
Processing Time: One (1) to three (3) weeks

Once the work permit is issued, it will be sent to the applicant in their country of nationality or legal residence. The applicant must travel to the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over his/her place of residence and submit a work visa application. Depending on nationality, accompanying family members apply for residence visas at this stage. The work visa (D visa) must be applied for within 120 days from the date the Nulla Osta is released. With the approved work visa, the applicant can travel to Italy but will not be permitted to commence work. The applicant is permitted to carry out business activities only.

Step Three: Government Job Contract Signed
Processing Time: Same Day

Within eight (8) working days of arriving in Italy, the assignee must sign his/her Government Job Contract (Contratto di Soggiorno) and/or register entry into Italy. The appointment to sign the Government Job Contract is subject to the availability of the authorities. The applicant will require either a Home Suitability Certificate, the receipt for the application of a Home Suitability Certificate or a declaration from his or her hotel (or temporary residence landlord) confirming the applicant’s temporary residence. Once the Government Job Contract is signed, the applicant is permitted to commence working in Italy.

Depending on the length of the assignment in Italy, the applicant may also be requested to sign an Integration Agreement on the same day he/she signs the Government Job Contract. By signing the Integration Agreement, the applicant is agreeing to attend a civic training course regarding Italian language, culture and civic duty as well as taking Italian language courses during their time in Italy. The applicant should participate in the integration program as it may affect their eligibility to renew their Italian work and residence permit. Please note that at the discretion of the authorities, spouses may be required to participate as well.

Step Four: Permit to Stay (Permissio di Soggiorno) Application
Processing Time: One (1) to two (2) months from the date of fingerprinting in Step Five.

Within eight (8) days of arriving in Italy, employee and dependents are required to request the Permit to Stay (Permesso di soggiorno) from the local Questura. The application is done at the Post Office which will forward the application to the Questura according to the recent agreement between the Ministry of Interior and the company Poste Italiane S.p.A.

Step Five: Fingerprinting Appointment
Processing Time: Approximately one (1) day.

The Questura will then send an invitation for the personal appearance to give biometrics (fingerprints and photograph). In Rome this invitation is given by the Sportello Unico to the assignee at the moment of the registration of entry and signature of the job contract (contratto di soggiorno) and is within a month. In Milan the appointment for the fingerprints is normally received one (1) to two (2) months after the application submission through the Post Office. On the scheduled date the assignee and his family (when applicable) have to attend the appointment for fingerprinting and photographs.

Step Six: Permit to Stay (Permissio di Soggiorno) Collection
Processing Time: Approximately one (1) day.

Approximately one (1) to two (2) months following the applicant’s fingerprinting appointment, the authorities will notify us of the date on which the Permit to Stay will be ready for collection. The assignee and his or her family (when applicable) will be required to collect their Permits to Stay in person. The Permit to Stay may be issued for up to two (2) years depending on the work permit. (The duration of the Permit to Stay is not always the same as that of the work permit.) It will therefore need to be renewed accordingly. At this stage, a completed Home Suitability Certificate may be required.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the intra-company transfer process described above will result in the obtention of the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, “Renewal.”

      • Work Permit (Nulla Osta di Lavoro): Can only apply for validity intervals of six (6) months, twelve (12) months and twenty-five (25) months.
      • Visa Type D: Up to ninety (90) days
      • Permit to Stay (Permissio di Soggiorno): Up to two (2) years depending on the work permit. (The duration of the Permit to Stay is not always the same as that of the work permit.)
      • Government Job Contract (Contratto di Soggiorno): Up to two (2) years depending on the work permit. Signing the Government Job Contract allows the assignee to commence working in Italy.


Renewal of a temporary work authorization is possible, up to a maximum of five (5) years in total. Each permit can only be renewed for the same length as the first permit. [ie if the first Italian work permit was issued for an assignment of one (1) year, the permit can only be renewed for another one (1) year]. After this, the Italian company must apply for work authorization as a local hire. Renewal processes take three (3) to four (4) months; please allow four (4) weeks’ lead time for document gathering. Some local hires may be permitted to apply for Long Term Residence Permits after a period of seven (7) to ten (10) years.


The government of Italy requires all foreign workers who wish to leave the country to provide a deregistration letter for their work permit (nulla osta), including their departure date and the full address of their next intended residence and signed by their Italian host company. Assignees and their dependents should also surrender their Permits to Stay (Permissio di Soggiorno) at the airport. If the assignee and his or her family prefer not to surrender their permit of stay cards at the airport or prefer to deregister them earlier, they can send them to our local partner, who will then have them deregistered with the authorities.

European Union nationals are not required to deregister upon departure.


Dependent immigration status approval depends on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in Italy under an intra-company transfer, the following rules apply for dependents:

      • Minimum age (spouses): Not applicable
      • Maximum age (children): Eighteen (18) years
      • Unmarried partners: No, even if cohabiting or with children.
      • Same sex partners: As of May 20, 2016, immigration status approval can be obtained for same sex partners who have entered into marriage or live together in Italy as married partners. Additionally, same sex partners of Italian citizens are eligible to apply for Italian citizenship.
      • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): Depending on the situation, and if no other living relatives can provide support, it may be possible to obtain approval for parents over sixty-five (65) years old.
      • Work authorization granted? Yes, once permit of stay is approved, dependents can work without a work permit. NOTE: If the assignment is for less than twelve (12) months, long processing times mean that it may not be possible to secure dependent visa approval for the family before the end of the assignment.

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. We will advise you in detail regarding your specific case; however, general application materials for the intra-company transfer application process are noted below.

      • General application materials include current resume (C.V.), birth and marriage certificates, confirmation of accommodation in Italy, Chamber of Commerce certificate for the Italian host company, and corporate tax documentation for the Italian host company.
      • All documentation must be submitted in Italian and may need to be legalized/ apostilled. We can assist with the legalization requirements.

Business Visitors

      • Name of visa granted: Schengen type C
      • Duration of stay: Ninety (90) out of one hundred eighty 180 days in the whole Schengen area
      • General activities permitted: “business only,” generally defined as attending business meetings and seminars. If you are unsure whether your assignment may be considered business or not, please contact your representative. Business visitors should register with local police within eight (8) days of arrival.

Change of Status

Change of status from business visitor to work permit holder without leaving Italy is not possible for the employee, although it may be possible for dependent family members, depending on nationality and type of application.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. There is no standard minimum salary, but the Italian host company’s labor consultant/accountant must calculate salary on the basis of the National Labor Contract of the company and the position/banding of the employee. Please see your representative for more details for your specific situation.


Qualification requirements will vary from case to case and will depend on the immigration category under which the application is made. However, in general, the immigration authorities do expect to see university degree level qualifications. In some situations, a strong case may be made for applicants without a degree provided their level of experience and industry specific qualification is high. Please contact your representative for more details.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact your representative immediately for further detailed advice.

      • Absence of degree.
      • Absence of relevant experience.
      • Insufficient compensation.
      • During the summer, processing time is increased as the Italian authorities tend to be short-staffed.
      • Legalizations on documents can take a significant amount of time.
      • Unmarried partners cannot receive dependent visas.
      • If the assignment is for less than twelve (12) months, and depending on the nationality of the family, long processing times mean that it may not be possible to secure dependent visa approval for the family before the end of the assignment.
      • It may be difficult to obtain a work permit for assignments of less than six (6) months
      • In order to permit dependent family members to accompany the assignee on assignment, the accommodation must be of a certain size. The exact size needed depends on the region in Italy so must be determined on a case by case basis.
      • Proof of accommodation must be provided and, if the employee is staying in a hotel, evidence of a reservation for the first two (2) months of stay will be necessary at the point of work permit collection.
      • Italian company documents must be certified by authorities to show that the company is not connected to the mafia; this can take some time.
      • The Italian authorities can be unpredictable and unreliable; it is not unknown for them to lose files, go on holiday without assigning the case to another colleague, or to extend processing time at their own discretion.
      • Depending on the assignment length, the applicant and accompanying spouse will be required to sign an integration agreement. This will require the applicant and spouse to attend a Civic Training course as well as attend Italian language courses throughout their assignment time. During the renewal application, the authorities may request the applicant and spouse take an online Italian language test.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government of Italy takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and imprisonment.

Employee Penalties:

Non-compliant non-European Union (EU) nationals will be requested to leave Italy immediately, receive a stamp for non-entry for five (5) to ten (10) years, and will be recorded in the Italian system.

Employer Penalties:

Non-compliant employers may face fines. The legal representative of the employer may also face imprisonment. Private persons who rent property to non-compliant non-EU nationals may also be held liable.

For more details, please contact your representative.

Bilateral Agreements

    • European Union: Italy is a member of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Many EU, EEA, and EFTA member countries maintain agreements that allow individuals from member states to travel and work freely within the region without prior authorization. Nationals of new EU member countries that are within the two (2) to seven (7) year transition period following accession may still be subject to work permit or other additional requirements. For detailed information on process and requirements for nationals of EU/EEA/EFTA countries traveling to Italy, please contact Emigra Worldwide.
    • Schengen Area: Italy is a member of the Schengen agreement. Short term (type C) visas and residence permits for Italy will allow travel in the rest of the Schengen zone, although note that travel to the rest of the Schengen zone on the long term (type D) visa is not permitted, plus it can take up to twelve (12) months to receive the final residence permit.