Once married to an Italian citizen, the foreign citizen has the right to obtain a residence permit for family reasons, the renewal of which can be issued even if the couple no longer cohabits.
The residence permit for family reasons allows to carry out any category of work and it allows access to social services, enrolment to educational or training courses. If the foreign citizen has a residence permit of another category, it may be converted to a residence permit for family reasons.
The acquisition of citizenship through marriage with an Italian citizen is not automatic and it can be only requested expressly after four years from the celebration of the marriage.
The cohabitation is a mandatory requirement that must be attested at the time of the first application for a residence permit. However, according to the Italian Supreme Court, the actual cohabitation is not necessary at the time of the request for renewal of the residence permit.
In particular, in a case of refusal to renew the residence permit of a Moroccan citizen, the Italian Supreme Court declared that the preservation of the right of residence is not affected if there is no longer cohabitation between the spouses. In fact, it is not a requirement of the Legislative Decree n. 30/2007 that regulates this discipline.
In case of legal separation or divorce, the residence permit for family reasons can be converted to a residence permit for work or study reasons.