Which one is the toughest Italian visa to obtain?

Feb 20, 2024

Some kind of Italian visas are promoted as very easy to obtain, but is it really true?

Italian Visa : There are various types of Italian visas, each with its own specific requirements and procedures. While some visas may have relatively straightforward application processes, it is important to note that obtaining any type of visa can still involve certain challenges and requirements

Self-employment visa (as a freelance)

In our experience, this is the most difficult visa to obtain because:

  • it is subject to the availability of quotas, less than 500 quotas available for 2024 which includes quotas for well-known artists, startup visas and appointed officers of Srl and Spa;
  • there is conflicting information regarding which documents must be obtained in Italy to support the visa application and each Consulate may have different requirements;
  • it takes months to fix an appointment at the Consulate for filing the visa application and after filing processing time can be up to 90 days;
  • its issuance is subject to the Consulate’s discretion and in practice, most applicants receive a denial from the Consulate after having obtained the necessary clearances in Italy.

For further information, please check:

Startup visa

This visa is for those who want to start an “innovative” company in Italy and prove to have at least € 50 K to invest. Innovative is a company whose business model is characterized by a strong technological character and has an exclusive or prevalent corporate purpose the production, development, and marketing of innovative goods or services of high technological value. The startup visa is not easy to obtain because:

  • there are only a few hundred quotas available every year
  • many applicants believe that proving the availability of e 50 K should suffice, but in reality the Ministry will focus its attention on the business plan, which must be innovative;
  • another important factor is the applicant’s CV and its IT or technological experience;
  • the Ministry is also very strict with the bank letter that needs to be submitted to confirm that the applicant has available funds. There is not an official sample letter but the Ministry wants the letter to specifically include a declaration that the Bank has carried out all checks required by the FATF anti-money laundering rules and many applications are denied or delayed because the bank letter does not have the required format.

For further information, please check:

Elective residence visa

The law set forth that to obtain this visa the applicant must:

  • prove to have a minimum “passive” income (not deriving from work) of € 31 K/year
  • have a suitable accommodation in Italy (owned or rented)

What are the main hurdles to obtaining this visa?

(i) Most consulates require the applicant to prove a passive income 2–3 times the minimum set forth by the law;

(ii) Consulates request the applicant to submit the last tax returns, they want the income to be listed in the returns;

(iii) if the applicant has also an income deriving from work, Consulates tend to deny the visa because they consider that the applicant will not stop working while in Italy;

(iv) If the applicant does not own a property in Italy, it must execute and submit a min. 1-year lease agreement (to be stamped by the tax office) and it is increasingly difficult to find landlords willing to lease a property with such conditions. It is also likely that the applicant will need to pay the rent for several months before being sure to obtain the visa;

(v) In most Consulates it is very difficult to book an appointment for filing the visa application and, when available, appointments can be given after some months;

(vi) the processing time for the visa is by law up to 90 days (and the Consulate will keep the passport) and if the Consulate requests more documents the time can be extended.

(vi) the issuance of the visa is decided by the Consulate which has wide discretion to deny/approve it and each Consulate applies different criteria for the evaluation of the application.

For further information, please check:

Representative Office Visa

You probably read in some articles posted on the web that Italy is granting a visa to someone who registers a Rep Office, as an officer representative.

What is not made clear in the articles is that:

  • the visa is not granted automatically by being appointed as Rep Office’s representative in Italy; and
  • self-employment visa commented on in the article is exempted from yearly quotas but subject to some conditions (art. 40/22 Decree 394/1999), namely, it is for employees of a foreign company who are sent to work in Italy to a subsidiary of the Group to work as “self employees”.

To obtain this visa is necessary to obtain authorization from the Labor office and to submit, amongst other things:

(i) evidence that the individual is employed by the sending company;

(ii) evidence that the company that hires the individual is affiliated with the company that registered the Rep Office;

(iii ) the parent company’s yearly financials that show that the company is in good standing and financially strong to support the assignment.

The above requirements are identical to the requirements for obtaining an intra-company visa, eg a visa that is granted after obtaining prior approval by the Immigration Office in Italy (art. 27-a Immigration Law).

  1. 5 -Visa as director of a newly established company

Italy grants this visa only if a company has been in activity for at least 3 years. Accordingly, establishing a branch/subsidiary does not automatically entitle the owner or appointed director to obtain a visa. Even when a company is 3+ years old, the Consulate has the discretion to grant the visa looking at:

(i) If there are available quotas (a few hundred are allocated to this visa each year)

(ii) the company’s yearly turnover, registered capital, assets, and reserves (which need to be substantial), number of employees

For further information, please check:

What about the Italian Digital Nomad Visa?

Italy’s Digital Nomad Visa can be issued to non-EU highly skilled workers using technological tools that allow them to work remotely, either independently or for a company also based outside Italy.

  • A “digital nomad” is defined as a non-EU citizen who performs highly skilled remote work in Italy as a freelancer;
  • A “remote worker” is defined as an employee/collaborator of a company, which can also be based outside Italy.

The visa is exempt from the “quota” limits, and it is not necessary to apply for a work permit (nulla osta) for entry as a digital nomad (professional or freelancer), or as a remote worker (employee or collaborator of a company).

For further information:

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