Italy is a favorite tourist destination for many people. Sometimes, visitors find that they don’t want to leave Italy, or that they want to return as soon as possible. Many of these travelers dream about relocating their entire life to Italy. For people who find themselves with this desire, here is everything they need to know about moving to Italy permanently.
Immigrating means moving from one country to another. This is not just a visit and it is not a short-term thing. Instead, it means picking up one’s entire life and moving it to another country. People who immigrate often leave friends, family, jobs, and more so that they can live in another place. Sometimes, they are following their dreams. Other times, they might be getting a job that they love or studying at a school in their destination country.
Building a life in a new country involves all sorts of things that many people don’t think of. This includes setting up new bank accounts, learning how renting or buying property works, and more. Immigrants are committed to their new country, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
There are many reasons to immigrate to Italy. The most popular ones include:
People who are European Union (EU) citizens will find it easy to move to Italy. They simply need to enter the country, find a place to live, and register with the local registration office. They will need to provide proof of having a job or being enrolled in an educational program. Those who are not EU citizens will find the process more difficult. First, they will need to apply for and obtain a Long-Stay Visa. This visa allows people to enter Italy with the intention of staying longer than 90 days.
However, once in Italy, people on these visas need to find a place to live and then apply for a Residence Permit. There are two types of these - the permesso di soggiorno and the carta di soggiorno. The permesso permits stays of 1-2 years, while the carta permits stay for up to 5 years. Many immigrants in Italy recommend working with an immigration lawyer. Figuring out how to apply for these, what documents are needed, and where to submit them can be difficult. Paying a little bit more upfront can make an immigrant’s whole stay in Italy better.
Immigrants can apply for permanent residence in Italy after living there for 5 years. Once they have been there for 10 years, they can apply for citizenship. While it is easier for EU citizens to obtain both of these permissions, anyone who meets the country’s criteria can apply for them.
There are a few ways to pursue long-term residence in Italy. These include:
A standard visa to Italy (or an electronic travel authorization through the EU, for people from countries that qualify for this) allows for stays of up to 90 days in the country. Many people find that this is plenty long enough to see what they want to see and enjoy Italy. Some people even find that this is long enough to reunite with family members or complete certain job-related tasks that don’t take long and are permitted by the visa.
However, most work is not permitted while on this kind of visa. People who want to work or attend school will need to go through the process of getting a Residence Permit so they can achieve all of their goals in Italy.
Many people in Italy welcome immigrants. However, because of an uptick in illegal immigration to the country and fears and concerns related to that, some immigrants may have a more difficult time finding jobs, housing, and other resources that they need to thrive. Immigrants from EU countries and other Western countries may have an easier time in Italy. They should find it relatively easy to find a place to live, get the work that they need to survive, and make friends and other connections that will see them through their time in Italy.
Foreigners do have healthcare rights in Italy. They can get the medical care that they need and their costs will be covered, even if they are not permanent residents or citizens. Similarly, Italy supports the human rights of all people. Discrimination based on immigration status or country of origin is not officially allowed or condoned.
The number of people seeking refugee status in Italy has been rising continuously for years. Because it is on the Mediterranean sea, people often come through North Africa and attempt to reach Italy by sea. Refugees who want to be in Italy legally need to pursue official Refugee Status. This gives them a travel document and permits travel within the Schengen Zone of Europe. It also allows them to stay in official refugee accommodations, permits them to find a job, and get healthcare, education, and other official benefits.
The process of being recognized as a refugee can be extensive and take a long time. Refugees need to apply as soon as they arrive in the country and know that the government will make every effort to verify their stories of oppression and trouble in their home countries.
People who are in Italy legally have many of the same rights as Italian citizens. The biggest difference between residents and citizens is that residents cannot vote. This includes local, national, and EU elections. In addition, people who are residents but not citizens will find the process to own property in Italy to be more complicated than it is for citizens. In fact, many who want to buy property in Italy find that they need to work with a lawyer to figure everything out.
Note that Italy supports dual citizenship. If immigrants come from countries that also support this, they can pursue Italian citizenship in addition to citizenship in their country of origin, rather than giving that up to be a citizen in Italy. Immigrants will need to know what their home country does and does not support before pursuing Italian citizenship. That way, they won’t be surprised if they are, at some point, asked to give up their citizenship.
Because so many people are traveling to Italy as refugees, many of the migrants there are not documented. They do not (or do not yet) have official Refugee Status, and yet they cannot return home.
In 2020, Italy offered many of these people work permits, allowing them to join the workforce (if they could find a job) and opening a path for them to remain in the country legally. This was a controversial move, both within Italy and without, because many Italians are struggling to find jobs. They fear that people will hire illegal immigrants instead of them.
While undocumented immigrants can live under the radar for years in Italy, it is better for them to seek legal status. That way, they won’t have to worry about deportation or other problems and they will be on a path to becoming permanent residents and citizens.
Those who have always dreamed about life in Italy can start pursuing that dream today. They can apply for their long-term residence visa in Italy, then get a Residence Permit once they are there. There is no time like the present to take the first steps toward making that Italian dream come true!