Italy Rep Office Visa: myth or reality?

Oct 31, 2023

About the Italy Rep Office Visa

We are receiving many queries regarding a so called Italy Rep Office Visa which would grant a visa also to the CEO/Owner of a foreign company by simply establishing a rep office in Italy. The information circulated in various articles on the web are somehow confusing because there is not a specific reference to the sources of law governing this visa.

For the sake of clarity, we have summarized below the different visa options that are available by establishing a Rep Office, with specific reference to the law which governs each visa and its requirements.

Self employment visa (not subject to yearly quotas):  this visa is not subject to yearly quotas but it is specifically granted only to employees of a foreign company who are sent to work in Italy to a subsidiary of the Group to work as “self employees”, namely “Managers or highly qualified employees of companies based in Italy or with branches in Italy, or of branch offices of foreign companies headquartered a member country of the World Trade Organisation, or managers of main offices in Italy of Italian firms or firms of another EU member. To obtain this visa is necessary to obtain an authorization from the Labor office and to submit, amongst other things:

  • evidence that the individual is employed by the sending company;
  • evidence that the company that hires the individual is affiliated with the company which registered the Rep Office
  • the parent company’s yearly financials.

Source: art. 40, section 22 Decree 394/1999

Self employment visa (subject to yearly quotas): this visa is subject to availability of quotas (less than 500 for 2023) and it is extremely difficult to obtain because of the uncertainty on which authority in Italy should be contacted for the issuance of the relevant attestations/declarations and for the requirements that may be set by the Consulate/Embassy.

Source: art. 26 Decree 286/1998 and art. 39 Decree 394/1999

Blue card permit: allows Italian companies – also rep offices – to hire directly “highly skilled workers” i.e. those who (i) have a three-year University diploma (ii) are offered a minimum one-year contract and (iii) a salary of not less €25,000/year. The difficulty is that many Immigration Offices are reluctant to grant the permit when it is applied for by a Rep Office because the Rep Office cannot prove to have profits and cannot submit tax returns and yearly financials. The requirements are being changed and the new law will allow, amongst other things, also to obtain the permit proving adequate professional experience.

Source: art. 27  quarter Decree 286/1998

Intra-company permits: a work visa can be obtained for employees of a foreign company which has a subsidiary, an affiliate and also a rep Office in Italy. These permits are for a maximum duration of 3 or 5 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.

Source: art. 27 letter (a)art. 27 quinquies Decree 286/1998

Lastly, please note the following:

Visa as director of newly established company: Italy grants this visa only if a company (only Srl or Spa, and Rep office is not included) has been in activity for at least 3 years. Accordingly, establishing a branch/subsidiary does not entitle the owner or appointed director to automatically obtain a visa. Even when a company is 3+ years old, the Consulate has discretion to grant the visa looking at (i) if there are available quotas; (ii) the company yearly turn-over, registered capital, assets and reserves (which need to be substantial); (iii) number of employees. This visa is subject to availability of quotas (less than 500 for 2023)

Source: Interministerial Decree 850/2011, Exhibit A, section 7, point 2

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