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Italy Visa Policy and Visa Types Explained

Italy is a member state of the Schengen Zone and a part of the European Union. As part of the Schengen agreement, citizens of over 25 nations can travel freely in Italy.

International travelers from a few eligible non-Schengen nations can also enter the country visa free, provided their intended stay does not exceed 90 days. 

The visa rules change if foreign travelers wish to remain in Italy for more than 90 days. 

The government of Italy issues different visas (single/multiple entry and short/long term) based on the nature of travel. Travelers can remain in the country for a pre-defined period prescribed in the visa. 

The History of Italian Visas

The Schengen Agreement came into place on 26 March 1995. From this day on, the first seven countries abolished their internal border checks, however, Italy wasn’t part of this agreement at the time. In 1997, Italy also joined the agreement, allowing the residents of member countries to come and go into Italy as desired using their National ID card. While more countries have been added since this time, the basic principles of the Schengen Agreement haven’t changed.

For anyone traveling to Italy following the end of 2022, they will need to check the requirements for anyone living outside of the Schengen Area. They will be implementing a new system for those currently allowed to enter visa-free from outside of the Schengen Area, where they’ll have to apply for ETIAS authorization before their stay in Italy.

This is similar to many other online authorization processes and just requires them to complete an online application, which will then be electronically linked to their passport.

Uniform Schengen Visas 

Uniform Schengen visas or USVs allow their holders to visit countries in the Schengen zone for a short period not exceeding three months. They can cross the borders of these states and move freely between them without much border control. 

Most of these short-term visas are granted for trips related to transit, business and tourism in Schengen states such as Denmark, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Finland and Greece. 

There are different types of USVs. They are as follows:

Type A Visa

A type A Schengen visa is granted to travelers from non-Schengen countries to transit through an international airport in a Schengen nation to another country. 

They have to wait in the international zone of the airport. It is a mandatory travel document for travelers from a non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen nation. Note that holders of a type A Schengen visa cannot enter the country in which the transiting airport is located. 

Type B Visa

Currently, this visa type (type B) has been suspended. It has been replaced by type C USV. A type B USV used to be granted for short trips not exceeding five days and with a condition of transit. 

Holders of this type of Schengen transit visa were allowed to enter the Schengen state through which they are transiting.  

Type C Visa

A Type C Schengen visa is the most common of the USVs. 

Embassies, consulates and registered visa agencies of all Schengen states issue a Type C visa for various purposes including business and tourism. 

This visa allows the holder to remain in and travel freely in all Schengen states for a short period not exceeding 90 days in six months. 

There are three types of type C Schengen visa based on the number of allowed entries. 

A single-entry type C visa allows the holder only a single entry to a Schengen state. The number 1 will be printed on their sticker visa. If they leave the said country before 90 days they cannot return. To re-enter a Schengen state, they have to apply for a visa again. 

A double-entry type C visa allows the holders to enter a Schengen nation two times during the validity period. They can enter and leave this state twice and the visa expires along with the second exit. The number 2 will be printed on their sticker visa. 

A multiple-entry type C sticker visa will have MULT written on it. It allows the holders to enter and exit a Schengen state multiple times during the visa validity period. 

Based on the purpose of the visit an Italian type C can be classified into four types:

Italian tourist visa. This visa is issued to a tourist from a visa-required non-Schengen state to visit Italy. They can remain in the country less than 90 days in a period of 180 days. 

Italian visitor visa. This visa is granted to visit a family member who lives in Italy and other Schengen states. The visa holder can stay in the country for less than 90 days. A letter of invitation from the family member should be submitted while applying for the visa. 

Italian culture visa. This visa type is granted for foreigners to participate in various cultural, sports and religious events in Italy. They can stay in the country for less than three months. Applicants are required to provide a ticket to such events or an invitation letter from the organizers during the application process. 

Italian type C visa for medical treatment. This visa type is granted to foreigners who wish to undergo medical treatment in Italy and other Schengen states. Like other type C visas, a Italy medical treatment visa allows the holder to remain in the country for up to 90 days. Applicants need to submit supporting documents about the treatment while applying for the visa. 

Limited Territorial Validity Visa

This type of visa allows the holders to enter and stay only in the Schengen state mentioned in the visa. In some cases, the applicants can enter certain other Schengen states specified in the visa. Apart from the country of issuance and nations specified, this visa is invalid in other states.  

They cannot enter or transit through any other Schengen zone nation. In most cases, this kind of visa is issued based on humanitarian reasons. Sometimes, a LTV (Limited Territorial Visa) is granted to foreigners in emergency situations like a war and without even a valid passport.   

This visa type is applicable only for the Schengen country mentioned in the visa. In this case it is Italy. 

Long Sojourn or National (NV)

A long sojourn or national visa (type D visa) is granted for a longer period than 90 days. It can be a single or multiple-entry visa. A type D visa is granted for purposes like education and work. An Italian long sojourn visa holder is entitled for permanent residency after a few years mentioned in the visa.   

Some of the Italian type D visas for longer period are as follows:  

  • An Italian work visa for foreigners who wish to move to Italy for work. Applicants should have a job offer in the country before applying for the visa.
  • An Italian student visa for foreign students admitted in Italian universities.
  • An Italian family visa is granted to foreign family members of Italian citizens.
  • An Italy self-employed visa is issued to businessmen who wish to start a business in the country.
  • An Italy working holiday visa is a type of visa issued to foreigners who are above 18 years and below 30 to work while holidaying in the country
  • An Italian retirement visa is granted to foreigners who can live in Italy without the need to work. They should be able to support themselves financially.

How To Apply 

Foreigners can apply for a Schengen visa at the embassies, consulates and approved agencies of a Schengen state.

To apply for Italian long-term visas applicants must approach an Italian embassy or consulate. 

Based on the applicants’ location they need to apply in the designated Italian mission. Italy has also outsourced visa processing to visa application centers run by agencies like VFS global.  

After finalizing the application center, they need to book an appointment. 

On the day of the appointment, applicants should visit the center in person with the completed application form and other documents.  

They need to pay the processing fee depending on the visa type. Note that the processing fee is not refundable.  

The documents needed for an Italian visa varies based on the kind of visa. Following are the basic documents: 

  • A completed and signed visa application form
  • Passport size photographs
  • Copies of the passport information page
  • Health insurance details
  • Supporting documents like birth certificate and marriage certificate 

Once the visa is approved applicants can travel to Italy. After reaching the country, holders of long-term visas must approach the authorities to apply for a residence permit.

A residence permit is an authorization to stay in the country for a time stipulated in the document. The maximum number of stay is based on the visa type. 

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