March 29, 2012

The Italian Government has announced two, new immigration procedures to be implemented during the month of March.  As of March 10, 2012, any non-Schengen and non-EU national applying for a residence permit valid for at least 12 consecutive months must execute an “Integration Agreement” and meet specific social integration requirements within a two-year period.  In addition, the Italian Government is to proceed with implementing an “EU Blue Card” scheme designed for sponsoring highly-skilled non-EU/non-Schengen workers.

What’s Changed?

Integration Agreement

Per the Ministry of Interior Regulation# 179/2011, the Ministry has introduced an “Integration Agreement” (Accordo di Integrazione) to promote a comprehensive social integration of non-EU/non-Schengen foreign nationals requesting long-stay residence authorization.  The agreement is designed to acquaint foreign nationals with Italian culture and develop basic fluency in the Italian language.

Evaluating whether a foreign national is “adequately integrated” will require a residence permit holder to accumulate a total of 30 “credits” over a two-year period.

Beginning March 10, 2012, within eight days of entering Italy, any non-EU/non-Schengen national meeting the regulation’s requirements must sign the Integration Agreement with the Immigration Office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione) or the Provincial Police Headquarter (Questura) in the host city of residence.

Generally, foreign nationals who must sign the agreement are non-EU/non-Schengen citizens who  (i)  enter  Italy  after March 10, 2012 (ii) file an application to obtain residence permits  for  a  duration  of  at  least  12 months and (iii) are age 16 and above (in case of minors aged between 16 and 18, the agreement must be signed by their parents or guardian).

Exclusions from this requirement are as follows:  application for a residence permit not exceeding 12 consecutive months;  foreign nationals affected by a disease or disability that would impair their ability in learning or undergoing language/culture instruction; unaccompanied minor children (i.e., children age 18 and under); victims of human trafficking, violence or exploitation or children under age 16.

After executing the agreement, residence permit holders are assigned with 16 “integration credits”. Within three months after signing, as a first measure, they are invited to participate in a civic training session introducing Italian culture.  Residence permit holders who do not participate in this introduction training will automatically lose 15 credits if their absence is not duly justified.

Credits may also be reduced in cases of (i) criminal conviction (ii) become the object of national security measures or surveillance or (iii) charged with serious Italian administrative or tax violations.

The agreement may be suspended or extended by filing qualified documentation evidencing severe health or family problems, work reasons, attending formal schooling or training classes, studying abroad.

One month prior to the expiration of the agreement, residence permits failing to meet a total of 30 points may be assigned additional integration instruction.  After a period designated by the local migration authority, failure to meet integration may result in refusal to extend a residence permit and possible deportation.

EU Blue Card

On March 16, 2012, the Italian Government has approved a Directive introducing the “European Union (EU) Blue Card”.  Final implementation and application requirements of the EU Blue Card scheme will be announced once the Directive is approved by the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

As a concept, the EU Blue Card is “fast-track” work permit application process for non-EU/Swiss foreign nationals possessing highly-specialized skills evidenced by having a relevant university degree and/or relevant professional experience and allows Blue Card holders to apply for work authorization in other EU countries.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

Companies are advised that non-EU/non-Schengen assignees and family members entering Italy with Schengen “D” visas and intending to apply for residence permits for at least 12 consecutive months should work with their immigration suppliers to confirm if the “Integration Agreement” requires signature within eight days of their arrival in Italy and confirm with the local migration authority the protocol to meeting the points-based system.

Please be advised that Pro-Link GLOBAL’s is working with its Italian KGNM to confirm if there is any possible  exemption for those foreign nationals entering in Italy for “work reasons” (e.g.,  intra-company work permit for managers and high qualified workers.  PLG will continue to monitor any changes regarding whether work permit holders will be required to observe integration requirements.

PLG will also provide further update as to when the “EU Blue Card” scheme will be implemented with final application protocols and requirements.

This news alert was provided in coordination with our Italian KGNM–Lega Colucci E Associati.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.