A guide to Italian working permit

If you are planning to move to Italy and to find employment there, you might need to get a work visa in the first place; but, before that, you have to make sure if you need any permit at all. In fact, depending on your nationality, a visa might not be necessary.


To understand the present visa system, an analysis of its basic framework is needed.
EU citizens from countries of the Schengen Area do not require visas for visits to Italy shorter than 90 days, but they require a permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) for visits longer than 90 days.        
Non-EU citizens will need to apply for an entry visa at the local Italian Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence, regardless of the duration; for visits more than 90 days, you will need also a permit to stay.

Types of visas

When applying for the entry visa, you need to specify the purpose of your visit in Italy; in fact, there are a wide variety of visas, each one with their own specific requirements and provisions. Since they entail a great deal of paperwork and they must be translated into Italian, it is always recommended to be advised from professionals specialized in immigration matters.                                
 Generally, Italian law and European law include two main categories of visas:

  1. Short-stay visas: they are applicable for visits of up to 90 days:
    1. Uniform Schengen Visas (USV): the most common visa valid to enter and move freely inside all the Schengen Area;
    2. Limited Territorial Validity (LTV): a visa valid only to enter the territory of the issuing Schengen State or, exceptionally, of several member States. 
    3. Airport Transit Visa (ATV): a visa valid only to transit through the State’s airport area.
  2. Long-stay visas: they are applicable for visits of more than 90 days:
    1. National Visa (NV): a visa valid to stay for long periods of time in the issuing Member State. It also allows travelling within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

Border checks

Once obtained, the possession of the visa does not guarantee certain entry in Italy. In fact, the Border Authority can reject it for specific reasons if the foreigner: 

  1. Lacks the necessary means of livelihood;
  2. Lacks an exhaustive explanation on the reasons to stay;
  3. Represents a danger to national security or public order;
  4. Was previously expelled.

Once on the territory, within 8 days from entry into Italy you must submit:

  1. If you applied for more than 90 days, a request for a Residence Permit relevant to the purpose of the visa to the Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico Immigrazione) at the local Prefecture;
  2. If you applied for less than 90 days, a declaration of presence. 

Working permits

In Italy, the number of foreign nationals to be admitted for employment is defined by a quota system, through the use of the so-called Decreto Flussi: a decree that determines the relevant criteria and the maximum number of foreigners who can enter Italy for specific works every year. This means that you will be offered a working permit only if you fulfil the criteria and if the quota has not still been hit. These decrees are adopted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, usually, on a yearly basis, but it sometimes happens that no decree is issued.        
If there is no Decreto Flussi or the work you want to apply for is not included, then there are no in-quota visas available (the last decree issued is the Decreto Flussi 2018, authorizing a 30.850 workers quota for that year).  
In the cases established by law, you can enter for work even outside the quotas (fuori-quota): a simplified procedure is usually provided and it operates only towards specific and highly specialized works (an example is the Blue Card, although it is currently under review). 

The proceedings to obtain a work visa differ whether you are asking for a wage labour visa or a self-employment visa.

Wage labour visa (USV or NV): 

The visa for subordinate employment allows the entry to Italy, for the purpose of a short or long term stay, for a fixed or an indefinite period, to the foreigner who is called in Italy to provide a subordinate work activity. 

  1. The Italian (or regularly staying foreign) employer must apply for the nulla osta, an authorization to work (literally “nothing hinders”), at the Desk for Immigration of the Prefettura with territorial jurisdiction in the district where the foreigner intends to be employed; the application form will be needed to send to an accredited Postal Office, that will issue a specific account to let the applicant check his application status online.
  2. The Desk for Immigration will check the regularity, completeness and suitability of the application. If quotas have not been hit and the requirements are satisfied, within 40 days it will electronically inform the consulate or the embassy that the nulla osta has been granted.
  3. Within the 6 months-validity of the nulla osta, the foreign employee must collect and use the entry visa to enter Italy.
  4. Within 8 days of arrival in Italy, the foreigner must sign the residence contract (contratto di soggiorno), in which the employer guarantees the housing availability for the worker and the payment of his travel expenses in case of expulsion. A new residence contract must be signed for the establishment of a new employment relationship.

At the same time, the foreigner must apply for the relevant residence permit. 

Decisions related to visas and residence permit can be challenged before the Regional Administrative Tribunal within 60 days of notification.