Blue Card – visas for highly skilled workers

Aug 20, 2021
No quota limits for worker with 3 year University diploma. Visa requirements and useful tips

ITALY’s work permits are subject to yearly quotas

In order to work in Italy, NON-EU citizens must obtain a work authorization and visa. Immigration for work purposes in Italy is based on a quota system which is fixed annually by means of a Decree — the so-called “decreto-flussi“. The decree sets the numerical limits (quota) for each category of foreign nationals allowed to apply for a work permit and the period during which applications can be submitted. Work permits are normally granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the last few years due to the high unemployment rate (which is higher amongst foreigners who already live in the country) quotas have been issued only for categories like seasonal workers, conversion of study permits, and only a very limited number for the various categories of self-employment permits.

Any exceptions?

Some categories of workers are excluded from the cap and are not subject to a fixed limit, such as ICT assignments, highly qualified workers, executives or managerial employees assigned to the Italian branch of a foreign legal entity, university lecturers and professors, translators, and interpreters, professional nurses, researchers, etc.

  • Posted workers (lavoratori distaccati): a work visa can be issued when a worker is assigned to work at an Italian company for a fixed period of time (maximum of five years), but remains on the payroll of the foreign company (eg intra-company transfers or workers assigned pursuant to a service agreement);
  • “mission visa” (visto per missione)can be issued to foreign nationals who need to travel to Italy for reasons related to their political, governmental or public interest function, in particular: (i) Government officers, employees of Public administration/public bodies or Employees of International organisations who are sent to Italy to perform their duties; (ii) private citizens whose importance and purpose of stay may be considered of public interest for relations between the home country and Italy;
  • Highly skilled workers: those who have a three-year University diploma, are offered a minimum one-year contract and a salary of not less €25,000/year can be hired directly in Italy and obtain the so-called 𝑩𝒍𝒖𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒎𝒊𝒕.

What is the Blue Card permit?

The EU Blue Card is one of the extra quota work permits for non-EU highly specialized workers to work in Italy. It can be applied for at any time of the year, as it is not subject to the limitations of the immigration quotas. The application is to be submitted by the Company which is interested to hire the worker.

IT CANNOT BE APPLIED FOR DIRECTLY BY THE WORKER!!

Requirements are:

  1. 3 year University diploma: it is not sufficient to submit a legalized diploma, itmust be also validated by the Italian Consulate in the country where it was issued (Declaration of Value — Dichiarazione di Valore). See for example the procedure set forth by the Italian Consulate in New York, but each Consulate may have different requirements;
  2. Worker must receive a minimum 1 year job offer: the offer must be from an employer based in Italy. Employer can be (i) a company (Immigration office is asking the company to have adequate financial means and be in good standing); (ii) a private individual, but in this case it can be challenging to obtain the work permit.
  3. Be offered a high-level job position in Italy: The position offered in Italy must be for a highly qualified position, falling within Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 of Italian Institute of statistic jobs classification ISTAT CP 2011.
  4. Salary of not less than € 25,000/year: the salary offered must not be lower than 3 times the minimum wage to be exempted from national health care contributions i.e. € 24,789.

Application Procedure

The procedure for obtaining a Blue card work permit is the following:

  1. Diploma validation: issuedby the Italian Consulate having jurisdiction on the Univerisity
  2. Work permit (Nulla Osta) Online application, filed by the Italian employer;
  3. Visa: work permit is issued and worker can apply for the Visaat the Italian Consulate which has jurisdiction over his place of residence (which must be indicated in the work permit application).
  4. Entry into Italy, within 8 days the worker must go to the local Immigration Office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione) and sign the contract of stay (contratto di soggiorno), i.e. confirmation of the terms and conditions of the job offer. From the next day worker can be hired and put on company’s payroll;
  5. Permesso di soggiorno: worker can file the application for the residence permit (Police registration) at the Post Office
  6. Fingerprinting: after 1–2 monts worker is summoned by the Police and given an appointment for fingerprinting;
  7. The permit is issued: after 2–3 months (waiting time can be longer) the Police will inform the worker that the permit is issued and can be collected.

What rights does a blue card worker have?

Validity: the Police issues an EU Blue Card residence permit (Permesso di soggiorno Carta Blu UE) valid for 2 years for open-end work contracts or for the validity of the contract plus 3 months, in case of a fixed-term job contract;

Change employer: for the first 2 years, the worker cannot change job without the change must be previously approved by the Immigration Office;

EU mobility: after 18 months, the worker can move to another EU country with no need to obtain a new visa. Each country has its own specific requirements and conditions and the worker cannot start working without having complied with local regulations;

Family: the worker is entitled to bring his/her family (spouse and children up to 18) who can obtain a family permit which allows the spouse to work;

Healthcare: worker and family can register with the National Health Service, read our ARTICLE;

Residency: worker and family are entitled to register with the City Hall (Comune) where they are “residents” and obtain an ID card;

Taxes: you should consult with a tax expert to check tax obligations, exemptions, benefits, etc.

Useful tips

  1. Diploma validation: check the requirements with the local Italian Consulate, all Consulates have available informatino in their website. In some countries the procedure for obtaining the validation can take several months. The application can be done by a third party (with a proxy) and the worker does not need to be in the country;
  2. Application: the work permit application is filed online by the company, it cannot be applied for by the worker;
  3. Job title: make sure to choose a job title (amongst the categoties listed by the law) for which no special license is required (such as teacher). In this case the procedure would take longer;
  4. Professional experience: unfortunately Italian law does not allow to obtain the Blue Card permit without a University diploma, by proving a professional experience;
  5. Can worker be in Italy while Blue Card application is pending? YES, but cannot work, he/she can carry out only business activities (see Decree 850/2011);
  6. Visa: visa must be applied for at the Italian Consulate, worker cannot change status while in Italy nor choose a different Consulate where to apply;
  7. Change job: the employer cannot be changed during the first 2 years. The new employer will need to obtain an authorization to the change;
  8. After 2 years: after 2 years the worker can change job without requiring an auhorization and, under certain conditions, can also start working as freelance by opening a VAT position.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal or tax matter.

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