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Recruitment of foreign workers resident abroad

Non-EU citizens are allowed to enter Italy for subordinate work (including seasonal) and self-employment only within the maximum amount of entry quotas established annually by specific decrees on management of entry flows for work reasons, with exception of some professional occupations that don’t follow the quota system.
The main regulations on entry and stay in Italy for work reasons are currently provided by the Legislative Decree of 25 July 1998, no. 286, and subsequent amendments and additions "Consolidated Act of the provisions concerning immigration and the rules on the conditions of foreign nationals" (article 22 et seq.).
The implementation rules of the Consolidated Act are established by the D.P.R. no. 394/1999, modified and supplemented by the D.P.R. no. 334/2004.

Management of migratory flows

The Presidency of the Council of Ministers adopts annually decrees that establish the entry quotas for work reasons, taking into account the Italian labour market shortages and the related need of non-EU labour force, determined through a broad consultation involving the competent Ministries, the Regions, the professional associations and the main trade union organizations. The entry quotas established in the flow decrees are then assigned at regional level by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.

The request to obtain the authorisation (called nulla osta) for the recruitment of a non-EU worker, submitted by an Italian or foreign employer legally resident in Italy, represents the first step of the procedure.
The request can be submitted only after the publication of the annual Flow Decree in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic, according to the procedures indicated in specific ministerial circulars.

Once the worker has the nulla osta, issued by the One-Stop-Shop for Immigration (Sportello Unico Immigrazione), s/he can request an entry visa for subordinate work reasons to the competent diplomatic or consular Authority.

The One-Stop-Shop for Immigration issues the nulla osta if:

- the request submitted by the employer falls within the annual quota established by the Flows Decree;
- no Italian, EU or non-EU worker registered in the employment lists or as unemployed is willing to accept that specific job (in case of availability, however, the employer has the possibility to confirm his/her request);
-  there are no reasons for objection raised by the police headquarters.

Also the entry into Italy of non-EU workers for seasonal work reasons is only possible within the framework of the quotas established annually by the specific programmatic decree concerning entry flows for seasonal work reasons.
It is possible to establish seasonal employment relationships only in the agriculture and tourism-hospitality sectors. They must be sectors following the rules set by the collective labour agreements that appear in the application form for seasonal work on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.
It is also possible to hire a seasonal worker on a part-time basis, as long as the average weekly working time is not less than 20 hours. The worker must be paid a gross monthly wage no less than that established by the current national collective labour agreement.

For the recruitment of seasonal or non-seasonal employees, separate flow decrees can be adopted, but in the last years a single one has been issued with entry quotas for both non-seasonal and seasonal workers.

With the Legislative Decree 29 October 2016, no. 203, the Directive 2014/36/EU on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers has been transposed in Italy (OJ General Series no. 262 of 9-11-2016).

Flow Decrees Database

Entry outside the quota system

Among the provisions of the Consolidated Act on Immigration (Legislative Decree no. 286/98) on the entry and stay of foreign nationals for work reasons, the articles 27 et seq. provide categories of workers that don’t have to apply for the nulla osta or, if requested, it can be issued in any case outside the quotas periodically established with the Flows Decree.

These are the so-called "Entries outside the quotas", i.e. entries for work reasons possible throughout the year and without numerical limit (with the exception of entrances for traineeships, for professional and amateur sports and for voluntary work). A simplified procedure is usually provided for the issue of the nulla osta. In some cases (seconded managers, university professors, specialized workers posted to Italy, seafarers, trainees and journalists) the procedure foresees, directly or after a simple communication to the One-Stop-Shop for Immigration, the visa request to the Italian diplomatic or consular representations abroad.