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WORKING IN ITALY

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023

Italy has released details of the number of work permits available this year and which types of workers can apply. Here's what to know if you're thinking of moving to Italy for work from outside the EU.

What to know about getting an Italian work permit in 2023
Construction and shipbuilding are two of the industries Italy is allocating work permits for amid a shortage of staff in these sectors. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Each year, the Italian government sets out exactly how many work permits it will grant to non-EU citizens. and for which industries.

The Italian government released the details of the 2023 quota at the end of January, confirming that a total of 82,705 permits will be available this year.

This is significantly higher than in previous years, with just under 70,000 permits issued in 2022, and 30,000 in 2021.

Some 44,000 of this year’s permits are intended for seasonal workers, in industries including agriculture and tourism.

READ ALSO: How to get an Italian work visa

Most of the remaining permits are reserved for those on longer-term employment contracts, and the majority of those can only be allocated to firms hiring workers in the following sectors:

  • Road haulage
  • Construction
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Mechanics
  • Telecommunications
  • Food
  • Shipbuilding

However this year’s decree also brings in new and stricter criteria for issuing these permits.

For non-seasonal permits, employers must now confirm with Italian government employment agencies that no qualified Italian nationals are available to do the jobs before putting in an authorisation request.

READ ALSO: The jobs in Italy that will be most in demand in 2023

This requirement is waived for workers who have completed training programmes in their country of origin that are specifically designed to send workers to Italy. Find further details from the Italian labour ministry here (in Italian).

Applications for this year’s permits will open on March 27th.

Getting one of these permits is just the start. As a non-EEA citizen, there are three main documents you’ll need to live and work in Italy: a work permit (nulla osta), a work visa (visto) and a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno).

Find out more information about the types of Italian work visa available here.

Self-employed workers

As in previous years, in 2023 only 500 permits in total have been made available to self-employed workers. Those eligible include artists, and entrepreneur investors who will create at least three jobs in Italy, but competition for these limited place is fierce.

While Italy approved a ‘digital nomad’ visa in March 2022 that many hoped would make it easier for freelance workers to move to Italy, there have been no updates since and the plan now seems to have been abandoned by Italy’s new government.

The new decree setting out Italy’s 2023 work permit quota does not cover visa rules, so there was no mention of it here.

EU Blue Card

There is one possible way for highly-qualified workers to move to Italy for work outside of the work permit quota: The EU Blue Card is available to non-EU nationals, and the requirements include an undergraduate degree and a firm job offer from an Italian company, with a salary of at least €24,789.

Find out more about the EU Blue Card scheme in a separate article here.

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

For more information about visa and residency permit applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact your embassy or local Questura (police headquarters) in Italy.

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WORKING IN ITALY

Cafe culture and clocking out: Why remote work is so unpopular in Italy

The era of working from home in Italy ended with the Covid pandemic as Italians still overwhelmingly prefer to commute to the office and network in person, writes Silvia Marchetti.

Cafe culture and clocking out: Why remote work is so unpopular in Italy

With the Covid pandemic over, most Italians are now back to the office, sitting behind their desks and again clocking in at work. What happened to remote working or teleworking (also called ‘smart working’ in Italy)?

In my view this is (or was) the greatest novelty to come out of the pandemic, but it does not seem to have stuck in Italy. What have we learned from the pandemic about revolutionising the traditional workplace? Nulla.

Almost 80 percent of Italians worked from home during the pandemic – mostly for the first time, as the concept was almost unheard of before. But just 14.9 percent still work remotely today.

One reason for this is the simple fact that Italians need to hang out. They’re real political animals and for many the office is their most important social hub, after the family setting.

Unlike in other Western countries, the office is where 90 percent of one’s career is built by networking and PR, rather than on real merit and achievement. My dad always says that an after-lunch espresso with “important colleagues” is more valuable than a 12-hour shift sitting in front of a computer.

Italians have a saying: “le conoscenze contano”, meaning that knowing the right people can advance your career.

I once had a job contract at a leading industrial lobby in Rome, and I remember hours spent at the bar or having lunch chatting with colleagues and employees about future projects and summits, when all I wanted to do was rush through the speeches and papers I had to write. Eventually, I quit.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s crazy’: What to expect when you work for an Italian company

Italians are also very physical in everything they do, so the workplace must be a concrete spot, set apart from home. 

Multi-tasking is hard, and flexibility at work is as feared as the plague. It is seen as working seven days a week, on a 24-hour basis if you do it remotely. Italian workers would rather be with colleagues in person at the office, then at the beach having to answer emails.

The working week in Italy is as sacrosanct as Sunday mass. Once you’ve clocked out, you’re out. The universe may collapse but it’s not your call to step in and rescue it. Smartphones may have somewhat blurred the work-home boundary even in Italy, but haven’t destroyed it.

Lately I have noticed that virtual press conferences, events, and festivals are no longer available, during the pandemic I just needed a laptop to listen to speeches. Now I often need to take a taxi to get to the venue. It’s aggravating. 

Back to the daily commute: in Italy, seeing colleagues in person is all-important. Photo by JEsse on Unsplash

All over the world people go to cafés and bars to work from their laptops. But in Italy it’s a bit different. 

Over here, we do things our way: writing a paper while you devour a cornetto would not be cool. My gran had a saying: “Ogni cosa a suo tempo”, meaning ‘everything has its time’.

Cafés for most Italians are hangout spots where you chat with friends or colleagues and have a quick coffee on the run, gulping it down at the counter rather than sitting down. They’re not ideal places for working. 

READ ALSO: Italy ranked one of the worst countries for expats to work in – again

In some northern Italian cities, sitting for hours at nice panoramic cafés with a steaming cappuccino while answering emails may be more popular, mainly because many cafés in Milan, Bologna and Turin are huge and have several rooms. But this is not something you can do in the south.

All of this means Italy is probably one of the worst countries in Europe for remote work, and it’s not just because of the mindset. 

Many parts of the country still lack high-speed internet, especially rural areas, but also cities. I live north of Rome and don’t even have a home WIFI, so I’m considering subscribing to one of those internet companies that provide signal to yachts in the middle of the sea and campers on isolated mountain tops. 

This lack of digital infrastructure makes it hard both for Italians teleworking and for foreigners hoping to relocate to Italy and work remotely for companies abroad or as freelancers. 

READ ALSO: What happened to Italy’s planned digital nomad visa?

However, I still think that even if all of Italy was hooked up with supersonic internet, Italians would still prefer to commute to a physical workplace each day.

Foreigners have long been waiting for the ‘digital nomad’ visa, approved in 2021 and then forgotten by the new government that seems to have other priorities. One politician from the ruling coalition told me the law is rotting in parliament simply because there are so many other ways to lure foreign money which are viewed as safer.

The cheap homes bonanza, the 7 percent flat tax rate for expat retirees in several southern regions, and the elective residency visa for pensioners, are all examples of more concrete measures sure to bring significant taxes into state coffers. 

Meanwhile, digital nomads are often seen as ‘vague’ freelancers whose job isn’t quite clear, who can’t be easily classified and tracked down. In other words, digital nomads are somehow perceived by authorities, in my view, as potential tax dodgers.

I think Italy has lost an opportunity to really embrace remote work. If not even a global pandemic has the power to modernise the Italian workplace, I don’t know what can.

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