Italy Work Visa for temporary assignments

Apr 30, 2024

Italy Work Visa and Work Permits: Italian Immigration law provides for different categories of work permits for highly skilled workers assigned to work temporarily in Italy. Under these options, workers do not become local employees but maintain an employment relationship with the home country employer.

Obtaining Italy Work Visa

In order to work in Italy, NON-EU citizens shall obtain a work permit, a work visa and then the foreign worker shall request for a permit of stay for working purpose.

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. Permits are normally granted on a first come, first served basis.

Several 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.

Work permit application procedure 

Even though there may be slight variations from one category to the other, the basic procedure for obtaining a work permit is the following:

  1. Work permit (Nulla Osta) Online application, filed by the Italian employer/host company
  2. Work Visa (Visto) application, filed by the worker at the Italian Consulate which has jurisdiction over his place of residence.
  3. Entry into Italy. Within 8 days the worker must go to the local Immigration Office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione), sign the contract of stay (contratto di soggiorno) and/or file the application for the permit of stay (permesso di soggiorno).

Work permit and Work Visa options for temporary assignments

Italian Immigration law provides for different kinds of work permits for highly skilled workers assigned to work temporarily in Italy. Under these options, workers do not become local employees but maintain an employment relationship with the home country employer.

intra-company work permit for highly specialized staff/managers/directors/ on assignment (Art. 27 c. 1 lett. (a) of Italian Immigration law); this procedure allows the foreign employee in an executive, senior managerial, or specialized knowledge role to be temporarily assigned (up to 5 years) to a subsidiary, branch, or an affiliate in Italy (sending and host companies should be part of the same business group or a joint-venture group). Specifically, this procedure applies to highly specialized staff or managers employed at companies having their headquarters or subsidiaries in Italy; or employed at representative offices of foreign companies mainly operating in the territory of a WTO country; or, applies to managers of corporate headquarters located in Italy of Italian or EU companies. The residence permit issued under this process is called permesso di soggiorno casi particolari.
Intra-corporate transfer work permit for managers, specialists, trainees temporary seconded from a company established outside the EU where the worker is employed since at least 3 months prior to the transfer to a host entity established in Italy either directly owned by the NON-EU sending company or by another company of the same group (Art. 27 quinquies and Art. 27 sexies of Italian Immigration law). Maximum duration is 3 years for managers and specialists, 1 year for trainees. It also applies to holders of an ICT Permit issued by another EU State, being transferred temporarily to a company of the same group established in Italy. These are not required to apply for a visa to enter Italy. They must apply for an ICT work permit in Italy only if the assignment exceeds 90 days within 180 days. The residence permits issued under these processes are called permesso di soggiorno ICT and permesso di soggiorno mobile ICT.
When the assignment does not qualify for an intra-company transfer, it is possible to proceed with a different kind of application pursuant to art. 27 c. 1 lett. (i) of Italian Immigration law. This is a work permit for foreign employees who are temporarily assigned to Italy to perform services/activities under a contract concluded between the foreign employer and the company operating in Italy for whom the services are intended. If the sending employer is based in an EU country, a fast-track procedure is available. Individuals who have a work permit (and who are hired locally) issued by another EU country can be transferred to Italy based upon a service agreement between their employer and an Italian company. In such a case a work permit is not needed but it is sufficient that the Italian company sends a notice to the local immigration office. Cannot exceed 4 years. Foreign companies posting employees to Italy under the service agreement procedure are subject to the obligations set forth in Decree n. 136/2016 (EU Posted Workers Directive (2014/67) on the posting of workers in the context of the provision of services): send posted worker notification (notifica di distacco); documents retention; appoint a representative in Italy.

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