Important things to know about the Italian Digital Nomad Visa

Oct 12, 2022

The digital nomad visa is still on hold and there are no updates regarding its implementation. Let’s find out other visa categories that allow you to work and establish your residency in Italy.

On March 28, Italy has introduced in its law — with great resonance — a specific visa for digital nomads and remote workers.

This was announced as revolutionary reform, but there is a caveat because 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒍 𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒍𝒔!

The law provides, in fact, that the requirements and conditions for the issuance of these visas should be established with a further Decree that was to be issued within 30 days, i.e end of April 2022, but

𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒍 𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒏𝒐 𝒇𝒖𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑫𝒊𝒈𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒍 𝑵𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒅 𝑽𝒊𝒔𝒂𝒔 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒐𝒏 𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒅.

The new law has only established some general principles, Digital Nomads:

  • shall not need to apply for a work permit in Italy before applying for the visa at the Consulate; but
  • shall need to submit acomprehensive health insurance, covering all risks in Italy; and
  • shall most likely need to prove to have done their job for a significant amount of time as well as to prove a a minimum income requirement and submit (as it is requested fro self employment visas) their latest tax returns;
  • last, shall need comply with Italian tax and social security obligations.

In other words, similar to what happens for the self-employment visa — almost total discretion on the issuance of the visas shall be left to Italian Consulates. This will most likely create confusion, because each Consulate shall use different criteria to assess the applications and grant/deny the visa.

Can you work remotely from Italy without a work visa?

Italy does not have any specific provision regarding ‘remote working’ carried out by foreign visitors. The only reference to remote working t and that can be applied by analogy to this scenario, is in the guidelines for obtaining the Elective Residence Visa (ERV — a kind of retirement visa) issued by the Italian Consulates of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Consulate specifies that holders of an ERV cannot do any kind of work ‘whether as dependent employees, as self-employed employees or employees working remotely online’,

while the San Francisco Consulate states that ‘Applicants are not permitted to work from home, blog for payment, offer consulting services to their previous employers, or otherwise dodge this restriction’.

From a strict legal point of view — even though the individual would be working for clients outside Italy — they would still work and if they have entered Italy without a work visa (for tourism or business), they would violate the scope of their visa/scope of entry (if they are a non-visa national).

The website of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an online questionnaire to be used by foreigners willing to enter Italy. If you select ‘work’ as reasons of stay (and there is no difference if the work is for local or foreign clients) the answer is always that a work visa is required.

What other visas are available if you want to work in Italy?

(i) Company-sponsored work visas

Non-EU citizens who wish to live and work in Italy for more than 90 days must obtain a long-term visa.

Yearly quotas: in general, the hiring of non-EU workers by Italian companies is subject to the specific quotas released annually by the government,

But some work visas are not subject to quota limitations. For example:

Blue card permit: allows Italian companies to hire directly ‘highly skilled workers’, ie those who (i) have a three-year University diploma, (ii) are offered a minimum one-year contract, and (iii) a salary of not less than €25,000/year.

Intra-company permits: a work visa can be obtained for employees (not for contractors) of a foreign company that has a subsidiary or an affiliate (a company part of the same Group) in Italy. These permits are for a maximum duration of three of five years and during the assignment, the workers must remain hired by the sending company. The application for obtaining the work permit must be filed by the Italian company but the workers remain hired by the foreign company.

Assignment pursuant to a service agreement: a work visa can be obtained also when a foreign company and an Italian company have executed a service agreement that requires some employees (not contractors) of the foreign company to be posted in Italy for carrying out some specialised works or quality controls. The application for obtaining the work permit must be filed by the Italian company but the workers remain hired by the foreign company.

Self employment visa as company director: an individual who is appointed as Member of the Board of a Spa or Srl company can obtain a self-employment visa if: (i) the company is in activity since at least 3 years and is in good standing; (ii) is given a compensation of not less than 8,000 year (but Consulates require a higher income, 3–4 times the minimum); (iii) prove to have a suitable accomodation.(**)

(ii) non-sponsored individuals

Self-employee visas: this visa can be applied for by individuals who are freelancers. This visa is extremely difficult to obtain, only few hundred quotas every year are issued for freelancers and the applicant will need to prove a consistent professional experience as consultant and a substantial income. (**)

Investors’ Visa: the Investors’ Visa can be obtained by: (i) purchasing €2m in Italian Government bonds (to be kept for a period of at least two years), (ii) investing € 500,000 buying shares of a Spa or Srl company (generally investment is done purchasing shares of publicly listed companies) or €250,000 in an ‘innovative startup’, or (iii) donating €1m in philanthropic projects of public interest.

Create your own ‘start-up’ company: this visa is for non-EU nationals intending to set up an innovative start-up business. The applicant must prove the availability of at least €50,000 to be used for the sole purpose of establishing and operating the start-up, and (ii) submit a detailed business plan.(**)

(**) These visas are however subject to specific yearly quotas.

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