Visas and Permits to stay: what do you have to know?

Posted on May 5th, 2019

by Expats living in Rome


Today Legal Assistance explains what types of visas and permits are there.

Visas are issued by the Italian Embassy or Consular Sections of a foreign national’s country of
residence. Permits to stay are issued in Italy by the Questura (Police Headquarters) having jurisdiction in the
province where a foreign national is staying. Foreign nationals are required to apply for residence permits within 8 working days (i.e. excluding
Sundays and holidays) of arrival. Citizens of some foreign countries can visit Italy and stay for 3 months without a VISA. In some
cases, citizens can stay for a longer period under a permit of stay or “permesso di soggiorno”. In
most cases, foreign citizens must return to their country of origin and request a specific VISA at the
corresponding Consulate. Therefore, we recommend to ask for a VISA at the Italian Consulate or Embassy of your country of origin in case you want to stay in Italy for a period longer than 3 months.

The most common types of VISA and Permit to stay are the following:

VISA/Permit for family reunification: valid for a year from the date of issue; it is issued to the
sponsoring migrant’s family members following approval of a reunification application.

VISA/Permit for employment purposes (indefinite, fixed-time or seasonal contracts): this can only be issued after obtaining work authorization from the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione – SUI (Immigration Desk) at the Prefettura (central government’s territorial office). In order to enter into an employment relationship with a non-EU national residing abroad, employers, whether Italians or foreigners legally residing in Italy, are required to apply for permission to hire an individual migrant worker at the Immigration Desk in the province where the job will be carried out.

VISA/Permit for self-employment purposes: may be applied for to conduct a non-occasional, self-employed work activity in the industrial, professional, handicraft or commercial sectors; to set up a company or partnership; to access corporate managerial positions. In order to obtain such a visa, foreign nationals must fulfil the same professional and moral requirements demanded for Italian citizens by the law with regard to the same type of activity.

VISA/Permit for highly qualified workers: such is the case of journalists, highly specialized staff who work for a corporation domiciled in Italy, artists, dancers and musicians, etc (art. 27  Decreto Legislativo 25 luglio 1998, n. 286).

Elective Residency Permit: the Elective Residence Visa/Permit is for those who have chosen Italy as the country of permanent residence and who are able to support themselves autonomously, without having to rely on employment while in Italy, whether as dependent employees, as self-employed employees or employees working remotely online. You cannot finance your residence in Italy through any type of work and to obtain the VISA/permit you must demonstrate that you own a property or that you have signed a lease.

For more information or assistance contact us at


A legal alert for expats living in Italy!


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