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What happens to your Italian residency permit if you lose your job?

Losing your job is never ideal, but for those in Italy on a work visa there's another layer of worry. Will you lose your residency rights? Can you stay in Italy while you look for a new job?

What happens to your Italian residency permit if you lose your job?
If you lose your job in Italy, the good news is that your work permit does not immediately become invalid. Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

The information in this article applies to non-EU citizens living in Italy who have a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno) linked to a work permit and visa: not to EU citizens or their family members, nor people with other types of residency permit.

The good news is that you won’t be kicked out of Italy the minute you lose your job: the expiry date on your residency permit for employment reasons (permesso di soggiorno per lavoro subordinato) won’t change.

Effectively, if you end up unemployed you’ll have until at least the date on which your residency permit expires to find a new job, and you may still be able to remain in Italy beyond that.

The duration of your residency permit for employment will depend on the type of work permit and visa you received, but it is normally valid for one or two years.

You’ll need to renew your residency permit before it expires, or at least within 60 days of the expiry date, at your region’s police headquarters (Questura).

There’s no rule that states you still have to be doing the same job, or even the same type of job, when you renew – as long as you can still meet all of the residency requirements.

READ ALSO: When and how should I renew my Italian residency permit?

You must provide a valid employment contract to renew your permit. This can be for a different job, including a job in a different sector.

You could also apply for a different type of permit if you meet the requirements.

If you lose a job, one option may be to work on a self-employed basis instead and then apply for a permit based on self-employment (permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo) when it comes to the time to renew.

“If you have a residence permit for employment you can engage in self-employed activities if you have the required qualifications and fulfil the necessary legal requirements,” the European Commission’s immigration portal explains.

“Your change of status will be registered when your original residence permit expires.”


What happens if you’re unable to find a new job in time? 

If you’re still unemployed when your residency permit is up for renewal, this doesn’t automatically mean you have to leave Italy either.

You’ll need to register as unemployed when you lose your job. This means you’ll then be entitled to unemployment benefits, usually for up to one year, and that you may also be eligible to apply for a ‘residence permit while awaiting employment’ instead of renewing your current permit.

“If you have a residence permit for salaried employment but lose your job or resign, you may be put on the employment placement lists [meaning registered with the job centre] for the remaining period of validity of your residence permit or for a period of no more than twelve months,” the EC immigration portal website states.

“If you lose your job at the end of your permit you can ask for a renewal for a period of no more than twelve months.”

In fact, it may also be possible for residency permits while awaiting employment to be extended beyond 12 months, since Italian law “has not imposed a maximum limit on the possible renewal of an entitlement document conferred previously,” according to the Italian Labour Ministry’s website.

“It is up to the police to assess the situation of applicants on a case-by-case basis, paying particular attention to their family ties, the number of years spent in Italy, and any previous criminal convictions.”

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases or assist with job applications.

For more information on how these rules apply in your circumstances, see the Italian labour ministry’s immigration website, visit the sportello unico (immigration ‘one stop shop’), or consult the patronato for free immigration law advice.

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How many foreigners are overqualified for their jobs in Italy?

Italy is among the European countries struggling with 'brain waste', a situation where immigrants struggle to find suitable full-time work or are overqualified for their roles due to their education not being recognised.

How many foreigners are overqualified for their jobs in Italy?

The findings were part of an investigation by Lighthouse Reports, the Financial Times, El País and Unbias The News, which revealed that most European countries fail to provide good job opportunities to educated foreigners – potentially at the cost of their labour forces and economies.

“While the results differ slightly between labour market outcomes, a consistent pattern emerges: immigrants lag behind natives everywhere, but brain waste is worst in Southern Europe, Norway, and Sweden,” the report read.

READ ALSO: How and why is Italy planning to reform its work visa?

One of the metrics used to measure brain waste was the proportion of foreign residents who were overqualified for their role.

Of all countries studied, Italy recorded the highest number of university-educated immigrants working in roles they were overqualified for.

Some 41 percent of university-educated Italians were overqualified for their job, according to the report, compared to 78 percent of immigrants educated abroad.

One thing to note is that immigrants who obtained their qualifications in Italy were far less likely to be overqualified than those who got their degrees outside of Italy.

For immigrants with a degree from Italy, 51 percent were overqualified. The report didn’t study native Italians with foreign diplomas.

READ ALSO: What jobs can I do in Italy if I don’t speak Italian?

Italy also had the largest number of immigrants working in roles they were overqualified for due to poor Italian language skills, at 86 percent, compared to 61 percent for those proficient in the language.

Although the number was especially high in Italy, the report pointed out that across Europe “immigrants with better language skills have better employment outcomes.”

“In 2021, immigrants with poor host country language skills were over-qualified and under-employed at almost twice the native rate and unemployed at more than double the native rate.”

Employment sectors with the highest rates of overqualified workers in Italy included construction, cleaning and maintenence, retail and care work.

The Lighthouse Reports study noted that the figures for Italy pointed to a systemic problem across the entire labour market, which doesn’t only affect well-educated immigrants.

“Once we look at metrics of brain waste that are not dependent on education, such as under-employment and unemployment, the large gaps in Southern Europe reappear.

“This indicates that these countries struggle to integrate migrants into the labour market in general, not just college-educated migrants,” it read.