‘Italy is an ideal base for remote working’: minister

Italy's business minister Adolfo Urso on Tuesday announced new plans to promote the country as a destination for remote workers - but didn’t say whether a planned ‘digital nomad’ visa would become reality.

'Italy is an ideal base for remote working': minister
There's a growing number of remote workers worldwide, but there's no word on whether they can get an Italian visa. Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

Urso told a business conference on Tuesday that his ministry plans to market Italy to the growing number of remote workers, or digital nomads, worldwide.

“In the coming months we will draw up a comprehensive legislative proposal making it clear that the best place to live is Italy, even if you are based in Silicon Valley, under the slogan ‘Work in the world and live in Italy’.” he said.

READ ALSO: Will Italy follow Spain in introducing a digital nomad visa?

He said the ministry is looking at “exploiting the opportunities offered by remote working – opportunities that we learned about during the pandemic,” according to Italian news agency Ansa, and claimed that there is “a growing awareness from Silicon Valley to the London Stock Exchange” that Italy is “the best place to live”.

Though the minister didn’t give any details of the plan, his words raised hopes among the many international professionals worldwide who would like to live in Italy short-term but currently have no good options for visas that would allow them to work legally for companies based abroad while in Italy.

A growing number of southern European countries, most recently Spain, have brought in special visas aimed at attracting these mobile workers, but Italy has yet to do so despite approving a law allowing for the creation of a ‘digital nomad’ visa almost a year ago.

According to a study by Nomadi Digitali, Italy’s association for digital nomads, 42 percent of remote workers interested in moving to Italy would like to spend between one and three months in the country, while another 25 percent are looking to stay for up to six months and 20 percent would like to spend longer in the country.

But, under existing rules, non-EU nationals can only spend up to 90 days in Italy without needing a visa and anyone wishing to work legally while in the country must apply for a visa and work permit

The current visa options available are usually not viable for self-employed freelancers and remote workers, immigration law experts say, due to the strict quotas and requirements involved.

Nomadi Digitali has warned that legislation around remote work should not “consider digital nomads as mere tourists who come to visit our country” and said Italy instead must learn to “consider them as new temporary inhabitants of our communities.”

Keep up with The Local’s news updates on this topic in our working in Italy section.

Member comments

  1. Never mind visa status, Italy will not become an attractive country in which to start any kind of business activity until inexpensive, high speed Internet is readily available to all. I pay around 10% of the cost for Internet service in Bulgaria for twice the bandwidth here in Italy.
    It is a national disgrace.

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How would a ‘youth mobility scheme’ between the UK and EU really work?

The EU and the UK could enter into a 'youth mobility' scheme allowing young people to move countries to work, study and live. Here's what we know about the proposal.

How would a 'youth mobility scheme' between the UK and EU really work?

Across the 27 countries of the EU, people of all ages can move countries to work, study, spend a long visit or chase the possibility of love – and all this is possible thanks to EU freedom of movement.

That freedom no longer extends to the UK. As a result of Brexit, a UK national who wants to move to an EU country, or an EU citizen who wants to move to the UK, will need a visa in order to do so.

However, a new ‘mobility scheme’ could re-create some elements of freedom of movement, if the EU and UK can come to an agreement.

The European Commission on Thursday announced proposals for a ‘youth mobility scheme’.

Who would benefit?

First things first, it’s only for the youngsters, older people will have to continue with the time-consuming and often expensive process of getting a visa for study, work or visiting.

The Commission’s proposal is for a scheme that covers people aged 18 to 30. 

Their reasoning is: “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU has resulted in decreased mobility between the EU and the UK. This situation has particularly affected the opportunities for young people to experience life on the other side of the Channel and to benefit from youth, cultural, educational, research and training exchanges.

“The proposal seeks to address in an innovative way the main barriers to mobility for young people experienced today and create a right for young people to travel from the EU to the UK and vice-versa more easily and for a longer period of time.”

How would it work?

We’re still at an early stage, but the proposal is to allow extended stays – for young people to be able to spend up to four years in the EU or UK – under a special type of visa or residency permit. It does not, therefore, replicate the paperwork-free travel of the pre-Brexit era.

The Commission states that travel should not be ‘purpose bound’ to allow young people to undertake a variety of activities while they are abroad.

Under the visa system, people must travel to a country for a specific purpose which has been arranged before they leave – ie in order to study they need a student visa which requires proof of enrolment on a course, or if they intend to work they need a working visa which often requires sponsorship from an employer.

The proposal would allow young people to spend their time in a variety of ways – perhaps some time working, a period of study and then some time travelling or just relaxing.

It would also not be subject to national or Bloc-wide quotas.

It seems that some kind of visa or residency permit would still be required – but it would be issued for up to four years and could be used for a variety of activities.

Fees for this should not be “excessive” – and the UK’s health surcharge would not apply to people travelling under this scheme.

Are there conditions?

Other than the age qualification, the proposal is that young people would have to meet other criteria, including having comprehensive health insurance, plus financial criteria to ensure that they will be able to support themselves while abroad.

The visa/residency permit could be rejected on the ground of threats to public policy, public security or public health.

Will this happen soon?

Slow down – what’s happened today is that the European Commission has made a recommendation to open negotiations.

This now needs to be discussed in the Council of Europe.

If the Council agrees then, and only then, will the EU open negotiations with the UK on the subject. The scheme could then only become a reality if the EU and UK come to an agreement on the terms of the scheme, and then refine the fine details.

Basically we’re talking years if it happens at all, and there’s plenty of steps along the way that could derail the whole process.

Don’t start packing just yet.