What is the change? Italy has set new work permit quotas for 2017, opening up spots for 30,850 non-EEA nationals in different sectors and positions.

What does the change mean? Non-EU nationals may apply for work permits in specified areas beginning later in March. The quotas are not available for standard employer-sponsored work permits for non-EEA nationals, with a few exceptions as noted below. As usual, applications for intracompany transfers and highly skilled workers, university professors and lecturers, interpreters and executives and managers assigned to an Italian branch of a foreign company, among others, are exempted from the quota limits and can be submitted at any time of the year.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. Application periods open later this month.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers looking to hire non-EU nationals in specified areas.
  • Business impact: The availability of new quota slots should help some employers in Italy meet business needs in specified areas.

Next steps: Application periods vary depending on the type of work permit. Applications for permit conversions and permits for special categories of foreign nationals may be submitted online beginning March 20. Applications for seasonal work permits may be submitted online beginning March 28. Applications forms will be made available online roughly one week before the filing period begins. Additional instruction on the deadlines set in the quota decree (“decreto-flussi”) is available in a circular posted here.

Background: The Italian government published the 2017 immigrant quota decree last week. This year’s quotas are as follows:

Quota Category of Worker
17,000 Seasonal workers, limited to the agriculture, hospitality and tourism industries. Nationals of 26 countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, are eligible. Two thousand spots are reserved for workers who have worked in Italy previously and whose employers have applied for a multiyear permit.
2,400 Self-employed workers, including investors, freelancers, corporate office holders or board members, internationally known artists, start-up entrepreneurs meeting select criteria.
500 Non-EU nationals who have completed study or training programs in their home countries.
100 Non-EU nationals of Italian origin who have at least one Italian parent and are currently residing in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay or Venezuela.

The remaining spots are for those seeking to convert existing permits to work permits.

Quota Category of Worker
5,750 Conversion of seasonal work permits into non-seasonal work permits.
4,000 Conversion of study or training permits to subordinate work permits.
500 Conversion of study or training permits to self-employed work permits.
500 Conversion of EC long-term residence permits issued by another EU country into an Italian subordinate work permit.
100 Conversion of EC long-term residence permits issued by another EU country into an Italian self-employment work permit.

BAL Analysis: The total quota of 30,850 work permits for non-EEA nationals is roughly on par with what it has been in past years. Exemptions exist for a number of categories of workers. Companies in Italy should take note of the quotas and any relevant exemptions and plan their international recruiting and hiring programs accordingly.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Italy. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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