November 24, 2014

A fast track process that allows foreign highly specialized employees to obtain work permits within two to three weeks from date of filing has recently been extended to become available to Blue Card applicants and researchers.  Although this fast track process has been in place since 2007 and promised to improve the Italian corporate immigration climate greatly, it has not been widely used yet in practice because of problems with its implementation. Even at this date, many Immigration Departments are not even aware of its existence. However, the recent approval from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to widen the eligibility criteria will hopefully make this process more widely known by the Italian authorities.

What’s Changed?

Depending on the work location, the standard Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) process can take upwards of 2 to 5 months (or longer) from the date of filing to obtain the work permit. This long process time is mostly due to the extensive list of corporate documents that need to be provided for each work permit application and that must undergo individual verification by the authorities as part of the work permit application processing.

The fast track process offers the possibility to shorten the individual work permit application in theory to approximately 2-3 weeks from date of filing. However, in order to qualify for this fast track process the company first needs to go through a document intensive registration process, resulting in a Protocollo with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The registration will require the company to produce various corporate documents attesting to their position, conditions, and right to request work permits (document requirements include articles of association, chamber of commerce certificate, proof of adequate income, etc.). While the application for the Protocollo is filed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, both the Immigration Department and the Ministry of Labor review the application. They currently need 2 to 3 months to review all documentation and decide on approval of the Protocollo. However, once the Protocollo is in place the company can file an unlimited number of work permit applications under the fast track process.

As the Italian authorities have already reviewed and approved many of the corporate documents during the Protocollo registration process, the documents required from the Italian company for each individual fast-track application will be significantly reduced. In other words, the general corporate documents from the Italian entity have already been provided at the stage of drawing up the Protocollo, and therefore only assignment specific documentation from both the Italian and sending entity will be required for the individual work permit applications. It is important to note that many of the supporting documents from the sending entity, the employee, and any accompanying dependents will still need to undergo translation and legalization or Apostille; as such, the overall process of obtaining a work permit under this process will still provide challenges.

Once the work permit has been approved through the fast track process the employee will need to apply for a work visa at the Italian consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, and subsequently go through all the normal post-arrival processes – these formalities are not affected by the fast track process.

Note as well that, as for the standard immigration process, accompanying family members will only be able to apply for their family permit once the work permit of the employee has been issued. Their process is not expedited if the employee follows the fast track process and therefore family members can expect the authorities to take between 1 and 2 months from date of application (depending on the city of destination) to process their family permit applications. Upon the issuance of the family permit they can proceed with applying for their dependent visa at the consulate and subsequently follow the normal post-arrival procedures.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies sponsoring ICT work permits for highly specialized employees should be aware of the possibility to draw up a Protocollo with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which will ultimately open up the possibility to obtain work permits within a few weeks from date of application for a wider group of applicants. Companies with high volume into Italy can especially benefit from this process. However, since the processing time for drawing up the Protocollo is very long on itself, this process might not be of use for any immediately upcoming assignment. Finally, employers should also note that, as with Italian immigration in general, in practice the fast track process might not always be as easy as the outlined procedures seem.

If your company is interested in registering for the fast track process, then please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist so that we can assess and verify with the authorities whether your company and your typical assignees qualify.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in Italy to provide you this update.

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