Foreign investors have plenty of business opportunities in Italy. In order to be able to do business in Italy, they must apply for a business visa with the possibility of turning it into a residence permit later. Those interested in immigration to Italy directly must know that at the beginning of 2018, the government enabled the Investor Program through which foreign business can apply for Italian citizenship under very advantageous conditions.
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Ways of immigrating to Italy as a foreign investor in 2024
There are several ways in which a foreign entrepreneur can relocate to Italy for business purposes. Among these, we mention the following:
- the investor can apply for a self-employment visa or for a regular employment permit;
- the entrepreneur can apply for the Italian Startup Visa which is very popular;
- the entrepreneur can also apply for the Startup Hub Program which was launched in 2012;
- the entrepreneur can apply for the Italian Investor Program which was launched in 2018.
In order to apply for the Italian Startup Visa in 2024, foreigners are required to invest EUR 50,000 in a business idea that can be classified as innovative. The selection of the applicants is based on the requirements of the Law 221/2012, Article 25.
The business, that can be set up in Italy, must comply with the requirements of the Decree 179/2012, which also states that the company may not be incorporated in Italy, as long as it has already been incorporated in the EU and will operate in Italy through a branch.
Please know that the company can maintain its innovative startup status for a period of 5 years, therefore, if you will register the company in 2024, its status can be maintained until 2029.
Below, our immigration specialists in Italy explain the requirements imposed on foreign entrepreneurs who want to relocate to this country for doing business and obtaining a residence permit in Italy.
Obtaining a self-employment visa in Italy
One of the simplest ways of relocating to Italy as a foreign businessman implies applying for a self-employment permit. There are certain conditions which need to be respected when immigrating to Italy as a foreign entrepreneur and these imply first obtaining a regular work permit which will allow the candidate to offer his or her services as a freelancer or within a company. In order to operate as a freelancer, the applicant must first submit proof that he or she has requests from Italian customers for the services he or she offers.
The services which can be offered under the self-employment residence permit must be in specific fields. There are two types of activities which can be obtained: those that require a license and registration with specific associations, such as medical or accounting professions, and those which do not require licensing, such as consulting services in various fields. It should be noted that in the case of unlicensed activities, the applicant must have an employment contract with an Italian company.
We invite you to watch a short presentation on how to obtain a residence permit for foreign entrepreneurs in Italy:
A self-employment visa can also be obtained by taking on the role a manager or officer in an Italian company. In this case, the company hiring the entrepreneur must fulfill specific criteria, among which:
- it must be in business for at least 3 years;
- it must release the paperwork which indicates the appointment of the foreign entrepreneur in the company.
Compared to the regular employment visa, the self-employment visa must be logged in by the applicant directly, including when securing a labor contract with an Italian company.
It should also be noted, that the number of self-employment visas is based on a specific quota announced by the government on a yearly basis.
Our immigration lawyers in Italy can offer more information on the requirements and procedures related to applying for a self-employment visa. This visa can also lead to Italian citizenship.
The Startup Visa and the Startup Hub schemes in Italy
Two of the most popular programs launched by the Italian government for foreign entrepreneurs interested in moving to Italy are the Startup Visa and the Startup Hub. The main difference between the two schemes is that the Startup Visa was created for non-EU citizens interested in starting a business in Italy, while the Startup Hub addresses foreign citizens who already live in Italy based on a residence permit and who want to open companies or work for Italian businesses as contractors.
There are a few conditions which need to be respected by foreign entrepreneurs interested in setting up businesses under any of the two programs, and these are:
- the company must have its main office in Italy;
- the company can have its main office in an EU state, but must have a branch in Italy;
- the company must have an annual turnover of less than 5 million euros;
- the company must activate in an innovative sector;
- the company must not be listed on the Stock Market.
Another important aspect to consider is that the government imposed annual quotas for these two programs. Also, all applications must be submitted online, which is why it is recommended to ask for professional help in preparing the application file. Our Italian immigration lawyers can help in this regard. The start-up visa comes with a residence permit in Italy.
The Entry and Residence for Investors Program in Italy
At the beginning of 2018, the Italian government has amended the Immigration Laws Consolidation Act through which foreign businessmen interested in relocating to Italy can apply for residency in return for certain investments.
The requirements for foreign investors seeking to obtain a residence permit in Italy are:
- they must at least half a million euros in an innovative startup business;
- they must invest at least one million euros in an Italian charity or other philanthropic organization;
- they must invest at least two million euros by purchasing government-issued bonds.
Only one of the investments mentioned above must be completed in order to obtain the residence permit for foreign businessmen in Italy. Most investment schemes enable applicants to obtain Italian citizenship.
Documents needed to apply for an Italian residence permit for investors in 2024
The following list of documents must be filed with the Italian government in order to obtain a residence permit for foreign investors in Italy:
- the valid ID for EU citizens and passport for non-EU citizens;
- a no objection letter issued by the Italian government;
- the application form issued by the Secretariat of the Italia Startup Visa;
- a declaration through which the applicant informs the authorities that they have the requested amount of money;
- information about the region where the applicant wants to make the investment.
The Italian Golden Visa for Investors has a 2-year validity period.
Why move to Italy as a foreign entrepreneur in 2024?
Italy is one of the most prolific EU states, which is why the government has created various programs through which foreign investors can relocate here for doing business. Italy is one of the few countries to enable more than one programs for foreign entrepreneurs, and more than that, it is the only EU country to come up with a program destined for foreign citizens living in Italy and interested in starting a business here.
For assistance in immigrating to Italy as a foreign investor, please feel free to contact our local law firm. You can rely on our lawyers in Italy for customized advice on relocating here based on one of the types of visas available for entrepreneurs. We can also offer information about the conditions to be met when applying for any type of visa for Italy.
The business immigration program does not provide many visas and the programs are usually capped at a certain number of visas issued per year. Therefore, we advise businessmen to start the application process as soon as possible if they want to obtain a visa in 2024.
For 2023, the Italian authorities issued the number of visas that they wanted to grant this year, and for the work/business streams, there were 82,705 visas. Foreigners could start the application process for a suitable visa stream from 27 March 2023, and for 2024, it must be noted that the applications can be initiated also in March.
From the total number of visas, only 500 were available for foreigners who arrived here as entrepreneurs, self-employment persons or businessmen who want to open a start up business (the majority, of more than 50%, are visas for seasonal work).