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Types of Italian Visas for Foreigners

Italy Visa Travel Itineraries Tourist

One of the first things that come to mind when moving to Italy is getting a visa. Italy provides various visa options which are valid for (1) residing, (2) working, and (3) investing. Let’s look at three popular types of visas below. 

1. Obtaining the Elective Residence Visa:

Non-EU citizens are able to obtain the Elective Residence Visa if they can demonstrate sufficient passive income from foreign sources as this visa doesn’t allow you to work or start a business in Italy. The visa is valid for one year only, but can be renewed indefinitely. The main requirement is any passive income that remains constant, even after the relocation, and is not less than €32,000 yearly.

These are the types of income that qualify: Financial income, Property or Rental Income, Dividends, and Pensions.

If you don’t meet the €32,000 monetary requirement, you can still qualify for the Elective Residence visa if you buy a residential property and make it your primary residence. With the Elective Residence Visa the pathway to Italian citizenship is smooth. After 5 years, applicants can apply for a long-term resident’s permit which lasts 5 years, and then can apply for citizenship if they want. Unlike the United States, being an Italian citizen or visa-holder does not automatically require you to pay taxes in Italy, but more on that later.

2. Getting a Self-Employment Visa in Italy:

Traveling and working from your laptop is the equivalent of today’s dream job. For any digital nomads out there who want to relocate to this beautiful country, the Self-Employment Visa or Freelancer Visa, applies to those who are not employed by a company and want to earn money by freelancing. You’ll need to prove you have been a freelancer in your country for at least two years in order to qualify, and the Self-Employment Visa is renewable every two years. It requires a minimum annual gross income of just €11,500. 

How to qualify for the Self-Employment Visa: (1) Apply for a “Nulla Osta” in Italian, which is an authorization to perform your self-employed work, (2) Apply for the Self-Employment Visa at the embassy or consulate in your home country, and (3) Obtain an Italian residence permit or “Permesso di Sogiorno” in Italian upon arrival which allows you to live and work legally in the country.

Keep in mind you can only apply for an Italian Self-Employment Visa, or any other Italian work visa for that matter, during a short window of time every year and you will also be subject to yearly quotas. Just like for U.S. work visas.

3. The Italian Investor Visa:

Sometimes called the “Golden Visa,” this type of visa is my personal favorite because I had the equivalent visa for the United States while I was living and working in California.

To be eligible for the Italian Investor Visa, you need to make a single investment in one of the following ways: (1) €250,000 into an Italian innovative startup company; (2) €500,000 into any other LLC or corporation; (3) €1 million donation to an Italian charity in the fields of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, or for the preservation of cultural and natural heritage; or (4) invest €2 million in Italian government bonds, in case you have extra cash you want to safely park for the long term, which is always better than letting it depreciate in a bank account. 

You can invest the aforementioned amounts into your startup or your limited liability company in Italy. There is no requirement for the business to be active prior to the application or to have Italian partners; you can be the sole shareholder. Italy’s Investor Visa is valid for 2 years, after which you may renew it for an additional 3 years. After the 5 years, you may apply for long-term EU residency.

If you receive an Investment Visa for Italy, you are free to travel to all other Schengen Zone countries without a visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. 

Can the Investor Visa Lead to Italian Citizenship?

Yes, if you live in Italy for at least 10 years, you become eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by naturalization. As an Italian citizen, you would enjoy the right of movement (and work) throughout the entire EU, the right to vote, and to pass on your citizenship to your children.

If you’re interested in moving to Italy and are looking to own or rent a property to live in, send me an email to start house-hunting. Ciao!

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