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The Italian migration policy, prefigured by the Consolidation Act on Immigration (Legislative Decree no. 286/1998), has two main purposes. On the one hand, it tends to improve the reception, inclusion and integration conditions of regularly residing foreigners, by developing intervention measures to promote the integration of foreign citizens in all the aspects of the social, cultural, economic and working life of the country. On the other hand, it has to adopt measures to fight irregular immigration, thus guaranteeing public order and security. This double perspective affects both the specific regulations established by the legislative power and the organizational aspects of the institutional system. For a better presentation of the organizational aspects regarding the attribution of jurisdictions to the various structures of the State, this paragraph has been divided into three parts: general aspects and coordination, jurisdictions of the Ministry of Interior and jurisdictions of other Ministries.

General aspects and coordination

The migration policy consists of various jurisdictions attributed to different Ministries. That is why the Consolidation Act on Immigration (Legislative Decree no. 286/1998, Art. 2 bis) established the Coordination and Monitoring Committee for the regulations regarding migration, which is chaired by the President or the Vice-President of the Council of Ministers or by a delegated Minister, and is composed of the relevant Ministers, depending on the issues under discussion at each meeting, and of a representative appointed by the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces. The Committee is supported by a Technical Working Group constituted within the Ministry of Interior, which, in addition to the Ministry of Interior, includes the legal representatives of other Departments (Regional Affairs, Equal Opportunities, EU Policy Coordination, Innovation and Technology, Foreign Affairs – whose jurisdictions also include the Italians in the World, Justice, Economic Development, Instruction University and Research, Labour and Social Policies, Defence, Economy and Finances, Agricultural Policies, Goods and Cultural Activities) and three experts appointed by the Unified Conference (the State-Cities Conference and Local Authorities, ex Art. 8 of the Law Decree 281/1997). The Technical Working Group prepares the issues concerning the activities of the Coordination and Monitoring Committee and is an open inter-institutional forum (representatives of any other relevant public administration, as well as representatives of workers’ and employers’ organizations may be invited to participate in the meetings) for the analysis and evaluation of problems related to migration and possible solutions in support of national policies.

Jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior

Jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior at the central level As regards the organization of the Ministry of Interior at the central level, the coordination of migration policies is entrusted to the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration and the Department of Public Security. The jurisdiction of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration is typical of the Ministry of Interior, namely protection of civic rights, including the rights concerning asylum and migration. For its functions related to migration policies, this Department avails itself of the Central Directorate for Immigration and Asylum Policies, the Central Directorate of Civil Services for Immigration and Asylum and the Central Directorate for Civil Rights, Citizenship and Minorities. Within the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration is the “National Commission for the Right of Asylum”, the major State agency dealing with the right to asylum and recognition of the status of international protection. This Commission, replacing the Central Commission for the Recognition of Refugee Status (which had exclusive jurisdiction for the whole Italian territory on the recognition of refugee status), outlines and coordinates the activities of the “Territorial Commissions for the Recognition of International Protection” and has decisional powers over suspension and cessation of the status granted by the Territorial Commissions themselves. In outlining and coordinating the activities of the Territorial Commissions, the task of the Central Commission consists in proposing guidelines for the evaluation of asylum applications, periodically organizing vocational trainings and refresher courses for the members of the Territorial Commissions and providing them with a permanent information service on the current socio-political situations in the countries of origin of asylum applicants – also through a specific online database (the so called “ARIF project – Refugee Agency”, which was managed by the Italian Council for Refugees – CIR – and ended in 2006). In the area of asylum, the National Commission also cooperates with other institutional bodies and similar organizations in EU Member States in the field of asylum matters. The Department of Public Security, headed by the Chief of Police – Director-General of Public Security, is structured in Central Directorates, Offices and Services – including the Central Directorate for Immigration and Border Police, which is structured in Office of General and Legal Affairs, Immigration Service, Foreigners and Border Police. The Central Directorate for Immigration and Border Police focuses on developing strategies to prevent and fight irregular migration and dealing with any issue arising from the presence of foreign nationals of the Italian territory. Furthermore, the Directorate is in charge of monitoring, preventing and fighting irregular migration by sea, in collaboration with the Italian navy, police forces and harbour authorities. The Office of General and Legal Affairs, which is structured in three sectors (management-organization, administrative-accounting, and juridical-normative sectors) is in charge of collecting, elaborating and analyzing data on migration. The Immigration Service deals with irregular migration, manages the operative and administrative activities regarding the fight to irregular migration and coordinates the actions related to the international cooperation of the police. Finally, the Foreigners and Border Police, which deals with security issues at border areas, is in charge of public security in harbours and airports; furthermore, it coordinates all the activities regarding residence permits, by dealing with cases of citizenship acquisition and recognition of the right to asylum and refugee status. Last but not least, the Foreigners and Border Police coordinates the Immigration Offices operating within the Italian Police Headquarters.

As already noted, public intervention in matters of immigration does not only regard the necessary control of migrants’ entry and stay in the territory, but involves many other areas which both the Government and the Regions are responsible for. That is why the Consolidation Act on Immigration (Law Decree 286/1998, art. 3, par. 6) provided for the establishment of Territorial Councils for Immigration whose tasks consist in analyzing the needs and promoting actions to be implemented at local level. The Territorial Councils are made up of representatives from the relevant local administrations of the State, of the Regions, of Local Bodies, of Organizations and Associations involved in assisting migrants, of workers’ and employers’ organizations. These bodies were established by the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of December 18, 1999. Their contribution were accompanied by recurrent circulars, up to the standardization of the monitoring processes of their activities, whose most consistent version was realized in the Report of 2007 and the subsequent ones of 2008 and 2009, of which we will discuss later on. The Territorial Councils for Immigration, which are headed by the Prefect, are functional for the development of a link between centre and periphery which would improve the knowledge system and promote the most appropriate operational decisions in order to remove the obstacles in the process of economic, social and cultural integration of migrants. These bodies were considered to be the most appropriate means to manage the coordination between public and private structures dealing with migration field, and to provide support for the Government. They are in charge of monitoring the territorial needs as well as promoting and coordinating initiatives on the basis of a functional connection between centre and territory (Regions, Provinces, Municipalities and Social Organizations) In their own area of expertise, the Territorial Councils are the relevant bodies for migration, integration and social cohesion issues, which work in interconnection with institutional and non-institutional subjects, in order to promote integration initiatives.

Jurisdiction of other Ministries

Although the Ministry of Interior is the main body dealing with migration issues, other Ministries also deal with the organization of migration and asylum policies: in particular, the new Ministry for International Cooperation and Integration, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In order to improve the integration measures, after a period of emergencies, the Ministry for International Cooperation and Integration was assigned with the following duties: international cooperation; integration; family, youth and anti-drug policies; civil service; international adoptions; measures against racism and discriminations. Within the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate for Immigration deals with two different aspects of this matter. The first consists in managing the entry of non-EU citizens for work reasons through the annual planning of entry flows, the management and monitoring of the entry quotas and the bilateral cooperation with the countries of origin. The second aspect concerns insertion and social cohesion policies, such as cultural mediation activities, linguistic alphabetization, civic formation, etc., in connection with the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and the CNEL – i.e. the Council of Economy and Labour, an auxiliary state agency provided for by art. 99 of the Italian Constitution. Within the General Directorate for Immigration there is also the “Committee for Foreign Minors”, which promotes protection measures for foreign minors, either unaccompanied or temporarily hosted in the Italian territory. Finally, as regards the jurisdictions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, we should mention those related to the issuance of the authorizations for the employment of foreign workers (such as the verification of unavailability of Italian workers through the Territorial Labour Offices – Direzioni Provinciali del Lavoro). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the General Directorate for Italians Abroad and Migration Policies, is in charge of some important jurisdictions on migration. In particular, the General Directorate deals with consular affairs and matters regarding foreign citizens in Italy, in addition to the analysis of social and migration issues in connection with international organizations and agencies. There are two main Offices within the General Directorate: the Office for Migration and Asylum Policies (number V) and the Visa Office (number VI). The V Office handles juridical and administrative matters regarding foreign citizens in Italy as well as asylum applicants and refugees; it cooperates in the field of the planning of migration flows and contributes to the promotion of bilateral agreements on migration. The VI Office, instead, deals with the visa questions for foreign citizens as well as the relevant entry regulations. Furthermore, it is important to underline that within the CNEL itself is an area dedicated to migration. Furthermore, among the CNEL departments also is the “National Body for the Coordination of Foreign Citizens Social Integration Policies at Local Level”, provided for by the Legislative Decree no. 286/1998 (in particular by the paragraph 3 of the article 42). More recently, in spring 2011, the reception of migrants from North-African countries was planned and managed by the National System of Civil Protection of the Department of Civil Protection (a structure of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers), with the support of the Regional Directorates of Civil Protection.

Legislative aspects

The Italian system of migration and asylum policies refers first of all to the Italian Constitution that is the first juridical basis. Par. 3 of Article 10, considered one of the fundamental principles, provides the asylum right in the Italian territory to the foreigner who has been prevented from the “effective execution of democratic liberties”, as well as determining that the condition of the foreign national must be regulated by law. As to the historical-normative development we recommend the relevant parts of this Report. We consider necessary to underline the relevance, in the matter of immigration, of the Legislative Decree no. 286 the of July 25, 1998 (published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 191 of August 18, 1998), containing the “Consolidation Act on Immigration and the condition of the foreigner”. Afterwards, the matter was partially modified by Law no. 189 of July 30, 2002, (published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 199 of August 26, 2002), that became fully effective beginning from 2005, and by the so called “security package” (Law no. 94 of July, 15, 2009).

Other agencies operating in the field of migration and asylum policies

In addition to the institutional agencies provided for by the Italian ordinance (among them we should also mention the network of Italian Municipalities and their national association, ANCI, which is organically linked with the Ministry of Interior), other bodies are also involved in migration issues, both from the operative point of view and by carrying out researches and studies on migration issues. The UNHCR branch office is operative in Italy since 1953 and its representatives participate both to the National Commission for Asylum Right and to the Territorial Committee for Immigration. In order to carry out its various operative programs, the Italian Government collaborates with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which operates in Italy since its establishment, in 1951. Moreover, there is also a large network of NGOs and humanitarian associations which deal with various aspects of the migration phenomenon. Some of them are responsible for both first reception (also in terms of legal and administrative assistance) and integration measures (social insertion, as well as socio-economic and socio-cultural cohesion). As the amount of organizations involved in these activities is very significant, we hereby mention only some of them: the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), Caritas, Arci, Acli, Migrantes Foundation and the Jesuit Centro Astalli Foundation, other ecclesiastical organizations, Trade Unions (CGIL, CISL, UIL and UGL) and Workers’ Patronages (which the Ministry of Interior has charged with the task of providing assistance for the necessary practices for the granting or renewal of residence permits)

Asylum and immigration

Entry procedures

On October 27, 1997, Italy joined the “Schengen system”, a free movement common area between the participating States which remove border controls, provided they previously met certain requirements concerning effective control of external borders: the creation of a national section of the Schengen Information System; cooperation in the policies on asylum; the harmonization of visa policies; the approval of national legislation on the protection of national data; the respect of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Citizens of a non-Schengen country, with a regular visa issued by the network of diplomatic and consular offices authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, may enter into our territory for tourism, study, family reunification, work and other reasons,. The visa is a special “stamp” or “sticker” that, affixed to the applicant’s passport or other valid travel document, grants to a foreigner the authorization to enter the territory of the Italian Republic. As a rule, foreign citizens do not have an “automatic right” to be granted a visa, but at most a “legitimate interest” to move.

According to the Schengen Common Consular Instruction, visas are divided into 4 main categories:

  1. Uniform Schengen Visa (VSU), valid for entry and free circulation within the national territory of countries applying the Schengen Agreement, issued for Airport Transit (Type A); Transit type (Type B) has been abolished by the Visa Code (EU Regulation no. 810/2009 of July 13, 2009, in force since April 5, 2010), and has been merged with Type C); valid for up to 90 days, for tourist or business purposes, and for single or multiple entry.
  2. Limited Territorial Validity Visa (VTL), only valid for the Schengen State whose representative issued the visa (or in particular cases for other Schengen states where specifically named) without any possibility of access to or transit through the territory of any other Schengen States.
  3. National Visas (NV or Type D): issued according to each Member State’s regulations, this visa is valid only for visits longer than 90 days, and allows the holder to circulate freely in other Schengen countries. The UE regulation no. 265/2010, which came into force on April 5, 2010, established a new EU Visa Code for a common visa policy with regards to third country nationals. According to this Code, the owners of a Type D visa (National visa) will be able to circulate freely in the Schengen Area for 90 days per half-year, and only if the visa is valid.

The Decree of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of May 11, 2011 (published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale almost 7 months later, on December 1, 2011), implementing the new EU Regulation, partially amended the visa policy introduced by the Inter-ministerial Decree of July 12, 2000. The new Decree still contains 21 different types of visas, some of which have been redefined: Adoption, Business, Medical Treatment, Diplomatic, Sports, Invitation, Selfemployment, Employment, Mission, Family reasons, Religious Reasons, Re-entry, Elective Residence, Research, Sturd, Airport Transit, Tourism, Transportation, Voluntary Work, Working holiday. Visa applications must be submitted in writing on a specific form, and accompanied by one passport-size photograph. As a rule, foreigners applying for visas must personally go 17 to the diplomatic or consular offices to be interviewed on the reasons and circumstances of the visit. In order to obtain a visa, foreign nationals should prove that they possess sufficient means of subsistence by showing liquid cash, bank guarantees or equivalent credit instruments, or other sources of income, etc. Except where otherwise provided by the regulations mentioned above, the foreign national must prove the existence of appropriate accommodation in Italy and the availability of sufficient funds for repatriation or a return travel ticket. No visas can be issued in the event of failure to produce evidence of means of subsistence; in the event that such evidence cannot be produced to the Border Police, the foreigner will be formally rejected at the border. A foreigner already regularly residing in a Schengen State is exempted from the verification of the above mentioned means of subsistence. Once the visa application is accepted on the basis of the documentation produced by the applicant (a valid travel document, information about the purpose of the visit, means of transportation and for the return travel, means of subsistence during the journey and stay, accommodation arrangements) as well on the results of the interview, the Diplomatic or Consular Office must verify that the visa applicant is not included in a special database of the SIS (Schengen Information System), and is not considered a threat for the public order, national security or the international relationships with one of the Schengen Member States. After conducting the necessary investigations, the diplomatic-consular office issues the visa, usually within 90 days from the date of application (30 days for employment, 120 days for self-employment), as provided for by art.5, par. 8 of Presidential Decree no. 394 of August 31, 1999, amended by Presidential Decree no. 334/2004. Once entered regularly in Italy, if a foreign national intends to stay longer than 90 days, he/she is required to apply for a residence permit, which will be issued for the same reason and duration of the visa. The foreign national requesting the residence permit will be fingerprinted. Third country nationals who travel to Italy for tourism, business, and study for periods not exceeding three months, are not required to apply for a residence permit. Under Schengen rules, a residence permit issued by local police authorities to holders of a long-stay visa, allows the foreign national with a valid passport or equivalent travel document, to enter and leave the Schengen area, and to travel freely for a period of no more than 90 days in any 6-month period, within the territories of the other Schengen member States. In any case, foreigners are required to report their presence to the police authorities in the territory of any other Schengen States, within 3 working days from their entry. The failure to comply with these procedures on the part of the third country national, will determine his/her expulsion. This sanction will be applied even in case the foreigner has remained in Italy over three months (or the shorter period specified in the visa).

Entry conditions

The conditions to entry into the territory may vary according to various factors: the country of origin (EU or non-EU) of the foreigner, the duration of the stay and the reasons for the request to enter the country. As regards third country nationals, there is a fundamental distinction between refugees or asylum seekers, and third country nationals applying for residence permit for other reasons.

Entry conditions according to the duration of stay

As we have already observed, first of all the admission of third country nationals in Italy varies according to the duration of the stay. Due to innovations brought by Law no. 68 of May 28, 2007, third country nationals who intend to stay in Italy for less than three months for study, visits, tourism and business reasons, since June 2, 2007 are no longer obliged to apply for a residence permit. They need only to declare their presence on the Italian territory, according to the measures established by the Decree of the Ministry of Interior of July 26, 2007. In case of a period of stay in the Italian territory longer than three months, third country nationals are obliged to apply for a residence permit (within 8 days, for persons coming to Italy for the first time). Third country nationals already residing in Italy are required to apply for the renewal of their residence permit within 60 days from the expire date of the permit (90 days if the permit was valid two years). Third country nationals applying for a permit of stay or its renewal for minors entrusting, asylum application or stateless status, elective residence, study (for more than 3 months), religious reasons, missions, professional trainings and stages, waiting for employment or citizenship reacquisition, family or work reasons, are required to apply to the so called “Sportello Amico” of Poste Italiane (a specific Help Desk of the Italian post offices), where they can obtain and fill in the necessary forms. The same procedure applies to third country nationals who plan to transform their permit of stay into an EC residence permit for long-term residents. All the documentation is then transferred to the Single Desk operating in the “Prefettura” (the Territorial Governmental Office). The application for the residence permit may be sent by post in the following cases: statelessness, asylum, medical treatments, sporting events, justice, minors integration, humanitarian reasons, minor age, work holidays.

Entry conditions for refugees and asylum seekers

In the Italian law system, in accordance to the Genève Convention of 1951, in order to be accepted as a refugee, the applicant must have experienced direct persecution for politic, religious, ethnic reasons or because of his/her national or social affiliation, and he/she must be in concrete danger of persecution in case of return to his/her country of origin. The application can be submitted at the Border Police offices, at the moment of entry; in case of their unavailability, the application may be submitted at the Immigration Offices operating in the local Questure (Police Headquarters). Moreover, to be granted refugee status, the applicant must not have been already granted the same status in another country. The refugee status can be denied also if the third country national has come to Italy after a relatively long stay in another country (not his/her country of origin) which adopted the Genève Convention, without applying in that country for a refugee status. Besides, the applicant must not have been condemned in Italy for serious crimes, like those against the person, the public order and the state security. Obviously, the applicant should not be responsible for war crimes, crimes against peace and humanity. The evaluation of the application is made by the relevant Territorial Commission for Refugee Status Recognition. The task of this Commission is to summon the applicant for an interview. Then, after three days, the Commission is obliged to adopt one of the following four options: granting refugee status (which has a validity of 5 years); granting subsidiary protection status (which has a validity of 3 years and is renewable); rejecting the request (in this case, the applicant will receive the order to leave the country by the relevant local Police Headquarter); rejecting the application but at the same time, taking into consideration the danger of possible return, applying to the Police Headquarters for a special residence permit for humanitarian reasons, valid for one year and renewable. After the application for refugee status recognition has been submitted, the relevant Police Headquarter is required to issue a permit of stay valid for three months, renewable until the final decision by the Territorial Commission. In case the refugee applicant does not have the necessary documents, including his/her personal ID, he/she is hosted in a reception centre for identification. If the refugee status is denied, the applicant is authorised to present, within five days from the rejection, a request for a re-examination of the application, which is forwarded to the head of the Commission in order to include any new element of evaluation which was not considered during the first audition. In any case, within 15 days from the decision notification, the applicant may file an appeal to the ordinary tribunal. Persons who have been granted refugee status are not allowed, for any reason, to return to their countries of origin, an event which could cause the revocation of their refugee status. This measure is applicable also if the person who has been granted refugee status applies for a passport at the diplomatic offices of his/her country operating in Italy. The last aspect regards the so called “contributo di prima assistenza” (basic assistance contribution), which is conferred only to indigent refugees who cannot access to the National Fund for Asylum Policies and Services. People granted refugee status, in fact, in accordance to the decision of the territorial Commission for the recognition of international protection, may receive the “contributo di prima assistenza” which can be used for personal maintenance, studies, work insertion, medical treatments.

Entry conditions for foreign minors

Foreign minors receive all the guaranties provided by the New York Convention of November 20, 1989 concerning children rights; the convention was ratified and became effective in Italy with Law no. 176 of May 27, 1991. With Law no. 77 of March 20, 2003, Italy ratified and implemented the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights, signed in Strasbourg on January 25, 1996. To verify the conditions of stay of foreign minors, who have been temporarily admitted into the Italian territory, as well as to coordinate the administrative activities, the “Committee for Foreign Minors”, an inter-ministerial organism chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Labour, has been established. Regarding the entry conditions for foreign minors, we need to distinguish between accompanied and unaccompanied minors. The first category is formed by minors entrusted to relatives within third degree (regularly residing) by official measures. To the second category belong minors staying in Italy without parents or other adult persons officially responsible for their assistance and representation. Foreign minors staying in Italy are granted the rights to education, health care and all the protections applied to Italian minors in the field of work (for instance, they can be employed only if over the age of 16, and only upon finishing compulsory education). Moreover, foreign minors are granted other protection and assistance measures: reception in a secure place, non expulsion, right to obtain a special permit of stay for minors and the possibility of protection and guardianship. Particular attention should be paid to the problem of unaccompanied foreign minors seeking asylum. In their case, the Directive of the Ministry of Interior of December 7, 2006 is applied. According to this Directive – which actually recalls norms already in force in Italy, like Law no. 39 of February 28, 1990 and the Presidential Decree no. 303 of September 16, 2004 – the foreign unaccompanied minors “have the right to receive all the necessary 20 information concerning their asylum application and the consequences related to this procedure, in accordance to the current legislation, as well as the right to express their opinion on the matter”. To achieve these objectives, the assistance of a cultural mediator or translator is provided. The asylum request made by an unaccompanied minor, once presented to the Juvenile Court, has to be confirmed by a guardian appointed by the Tutelary Judge. During this period, since the minor cannot receive the assistance and protection provided by the Protection System for Asylum Applicants and Refugees (SPRAR), he/she is hosted and assisted by social services of the Municipality of residence (in cooperation with other structures belonging to or managed by the so called “third sector”). The Municipalities must report immediately the presence of the minor to the Central Service of Protection System for Asylum Applicants and Refugees, in order to make use of the protection provided by the System and financed by the National Fund for Asylum Policies and Services. The asylum protection application concerning unaccompanied foreign minors is guaranteed by the Border Police, by public security offices in the Reception Centres and by the local Police Headquarters, in collaboration with UNHCR and other organizations operating in the field of protection for asylum seekers. Now that we have explained the entry procedures for refugees, asylum-seekers and foreign minors, we will now deal with those regarding the application for a residence permit for family reunification, studies and long term EC residents (a specific chapter is dedicated to the access to the labour market).

Entry conditions in case of residence permit for family reunification

In order to facilitate the cohesion and family unity of third country nationals residing in Italy, the current law system provides for that foreign citizens holding a residence permit valid for at least one year, issued for work reasons (employment or self-employment), for asylum, studies, religious reasons or subsidiary protection, as well as holding a long-term EC residence permit, can be reached by close relatives. In particular: the spouse, if adult and non legally separated; unmarried minor children; adult children still dependent on parents, only if unable to provide autonomously to their means of subsistence due to health problems; dependent parents, unless other children in their country of origin are able to assist them. The so called “Single Desk for Immigration”, instituted by par. 18 of Law no. 189 of July 30, 2002, which operates in every “Prefettura” (Territorial Office of the Government or UTG) deals with all the procedures for family reunification (receiving the application, summoning the applicants for an interview, verifying their documents, etc). Apart from the above mentioned characteristics, entry conditions for family reunification depend on two factors: the availability of accommodation and a basic income. Regarding the accommodation, the applicant must provide a certificate proving that the accommodation is congruent with the house building standards, by means of a certificate released by the local authority office or the certificate of sanitary and hygienic suitability released by the local health service. With regards the second factor, the applicant must prove an annual minimal income, deriving from legal sources, which has to be no lower than the annual amount of the social allowance, plus half that amount per each relative living with him/her. Anyway, if the applicant has not at his/her disposal such an income, also the income produced by the relatives living together with the applicant will be considered. Once all the conditions are verified, the Single Desk for Immigration has the duty to issue, within 180 days from the receiving of the application, either the authorization (nihil obstat) for the reunification or the denial. Within 8 days from his/her arrival in Italy, the relative needs to handle the authorization to the Single Desk in order to activate the procedures to obtain a residence permit. Lastly, the applicant should go to a Post Office entitled to these services, in order to forward the residence permit application issued by the Single Desk for Immigration. Once the residence permit is granted, the family member is allowed to work (employment or self employment), to start studying and obtain the benefits of the National Health System. The above described procedure is valid also for relatives arriving in Italy together with the applicant, provided that the latter is a holder of a visa for employment (with at least a one year contract) or permanent self-employment, as well as for religious and study reasons. Lastly, for foreign family members of Italian or EU citizens there is no need of an authorization issued by the Single Desk; they should apply for a simple visa at the Embassy.

Entry conditions in case of residence permit for study reasons

Access to instruction should be treated differently for foreign citizens already residing in Italy, as opposed to third country nationals entering the country for this specific purpose. Generally, in matters of education, the same rights and duties of Italian citizens are extended to foreign citizens residing in the country. All foreign minors already residing in Italy have the right to compulsory education, just like every other Italian minor. In case of lack of regular documentation concerning the identity of the minor, parents or tutors are required to formally declare the personal data of the minor. Foreign adult citizens regularly staying in Italy have the same right to education. First of all, they can attend alphabetization courses at different levels, which would help them learn Italian. Moreover, general education courses may be attended in order to achieve a licence or a secondary school diploma. The current Italian law system allows foreign citizens residing abroad to attend high school or technical and professional courses. In such case, the foreign citizen may apply for an entry visa for study reasons at the Italian Embassy or other Italian consular authorities operating in his/her country of origin. Moreover, the holder of a residence permit for study reasons is also allowed to be employed, although for no longer than 20 hours a week, if previously authorized by his/her educational institution, and only if child labour regulations are strictly enforced. As regards the residence permit for study reasons, particular attention should be given to the attendance at universities. At the end of the calendar year, Italian Universities are required to calculate the maximum number of slots reserved to foreign students enrolment, for the following academic year. The foreign students admission requires a declaration, issued by the relevant Italian diplomatic or consular offices, on the validity of local academic qualifications and degrees obtained in their country of origin. The same authorities are also responsible for issuing the entry visa for study reasons, which allows the foreign student to apply for an appropriate residence permit. Third country nationals already regularly residing on the Italian territory are subject to the same conditions, as Italian students, regarding admission to universities.

Entry conditions in case of application for an EC long-term residence permit

Holders of a long-term residence permit and regularly residing in Italy for at least 5 years may apply for the EC long-term residence permit, provided that they have a basic income equal to the annual amount of the social allowance. The amounts vary according to the family composition. Moreover, the type of relatives for whom it is possible to apply for an EC longterm residence permit is equal to that regarding family reunification. This particular type of residence permit, provided the existence of the above mentioned conditions, has no expiration date and allows the circulation within the EU without any further visa obligation; it also allows its holder to work and to benefit of all the services and facilities supplied by the public administration. From January 8, 2007, the EC long-term residence permit has substituted the old and similar permit which was introduced by Law 40/1998, called “Residence Card” (Carta di soggiorno). As we have seen, law no. 94 of July 15, 2009, introduced a specific Italian language test for third country nationals applying for a long-term EC residence permit.

Regular residence

Need for a wider participation

A foreign citizen who wants to integrate in the social and cultural heritage of his/her country of destination, rightfully expects to be supported in his/her integration process, as well as find a concrete support to his/her social participation. The integration concept itself, even if subject to different interpretations, is undeniably connected with the level of immigrants’ social participation – which is deeply influenced by the structural characteristics of the hosting country, that can facilitate or hinder it. Among immigrants (9 out of 10 cases), the prevalence of permits issued for work or family reunification reasons highlights how long-term and definitive migration projects are common in Italy. These projects are based on the economic and social stability and foresee the necessity of building or purchasing a house, the creation of a family or its reunification and children’s education. Welcoming of immigrants as well as their social insertion and integration are not always an easy task, not only conceptually but also financially. This part of the study will highlight the most significant measures aimed to provide support to immigrants’ family and social life.

Permanence and permits of stay: the need to streamline procedures. The foreign citizen already residing in Italy whose residence permit is expiring should request the renewal at least 90 days before its expiration date, if the residence permit is valid for 2 years; 60 days if valid for 1 year, 30 days in the remaining cases. Law no. 189/2002 directly linked the permanent settlement of immigrants to the demands of an increasingly flexible labour market. If the employment contract is permanent, the maximum duration of residence permits for work reasons is 2 years. The reduced duration of the permits, the long period of time needed to obtain their renewal and the resulting impact on bureaucracy are very challenging factors for the immigration population. Issuance and renewal of residence permits cause considerable bureaucratic delays for all public offices involved and make immigrants permanence in our country quite stressful. The recent new regulations which have reduced the validity period of the permit of stay, together with the economic crisis, made immigrants’ life in our country much harder and precarious – including those who have been living in Italy for many years, having chosen it as their country of adoption. In the last years, the Government, and particularly the Ministry of 23 Interior, adopted a series of measures in order to mitigate the problem. Here are some of them. Together with the new procedure for the issuance and renewal of residence permits and residence cards at the so-called “Sportello Amico” (Help Desk) of Poste Italiane (Legislative Decree no. 30/2007), the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the ANCI and nine administrations (Ancona, Brescia, Florence, Lecce, Padua, Prato, Ravenna, the Consortium of Municipalities of Portogruaro and the Autonomous Province of Trento) launched a three-year experimental project, aimed at transferring the administrative jurisdiction on the renewal of residence permits to Municipalities. Aside from this experimental project, a new “online network for assistance with residence permit renewal” was created; in November 2011, it was joined by more than 450 Municipalities, and their number is constantly growing. As an alternative to paper forms, the foreign citizen may submit his/her application to any Municipality (or Patronage) enabled to process the online submission. These experiments are likely to anticipate a future in which the single Municipalities will be responsible for migration issues. The interest in a joint effort between the Ministry of Interior, ANCI and the Municipalities is also evidenced by the “integrated training program” – launched in 2008 and now at its second edition – which addresses managers and the operators of Municipal services who are specifically involved in migration issues (demographic and social services, Municipal police), also in consideration of the new powers granted to Municipalities and mayors on the matter (laws no. 125/2008 and no. 94/2009). As part of the measures to streamline and accelerate the procedures for the issuance and renewal of residence permits in electronic format, the Ministry of Interior has developed an automated system for the presentation of foreign citizens to the Police Headquarters for the validation or delivery of their residence permits. This system, which is already active in some Police Headquarters, was launched nationally on September 27, 2011, and consists in sending a text message to the foreign citizen, inviting him/her at the police headquarters on the date indicated. In February 2012, the Italian Minister of Interior Anna Maria Cancellieri, together with the Minister for the International Cooperation Andrea Riccardi, proposed an extension to the duration of the residence permits. These steps go in the right direction (streamlining procedures, saving money, being equitable) and are of the benefit to both migrants and public offices.


EMERGENCY is an independent Italian organization, provides free, high quality medical and surgical treatment to the victims of war, landmines and poverty. It promotes a culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights. Emergency’s work around the world is made possible thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers and supporters. Emergency is also present in UK, USA, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium and Hong Kong. Since 1994 over 8 million people have received free, high quality health care by EMERGENCY.


MOAS believes that no one deserves to die at sea. In the past two decades, tens of thousands of men, women and children – mostly refugees escaping violence, persecution and hardship – have lost their lives at sea while searching for a better life. MOAS is proud to have rescued over 30,000 people from the world’s deadliest maritime migration routes. Established in response to the humanitarian disaster in October 2013, in which some 400 men, women and children drowned off the island of Lampedusa, MOAS has grown rapidly. Our rescue operations are carried out by professional search and rescue officers, operations specialists, and post-rescue care providers, while a team of skilled professionals in fundraising, communications and development oversee administration. Using innovative technology in cooperation with coastal authorities, we provide desperately needed professional search and rescue operations. In the years since our launch, MOAS has worked with multiple partners in several regions, and have seen the devastating consequences of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our era. With our disaster relief initiatives needed more than ever, we are calling on the international community to rethink the global migration crises and urgently find sustainable solutions.


Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 169 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people. The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.

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