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Family reunificatione

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society
and is entitled to protection by society and the State
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Family unity is a fundamental right recognized and protected by Italian law and which is fully recognized also for foreigners who wish to reunite with their families. Family reunification is an essential tool to allow family life, as it helps to create a socio-cultural stability that facilitates integration into the State, thus allowing the promotion of economic and social cohesion.

The residence permit for family reasons is issued:
  • to the foreigner who has entered Italy with an entry visa for family reunification, or with an entry visa following a family member;
  • to foreigners who have been legally resident for at least one year who have been married in the State to Italian citizens or of a Member State of the European Union, or to legally residing foreign citizens. The effective cohabitation following marriage needs to be demonstrated. Non-cohabitation involves the revocation of the residence permit for family reasons, unless the spouses have had children as a result of the marriage;
  • to the foreign parent, also biological, of an Italian child residing in Italy, provided that the parent has not been deprived of parental authority according to Italian law.
The residence permit for family reasons is issued for a period equal to the residence permit of the foreign family member who has requested family reunification.

The ownership of the residence permit for family reasons allows access to welfare services, enrolment in study courses or professional training and the performance of subordinate work or self-employment within the age limits established by Italian law.

In case of death of the family member who meets the requirements for reunification and in case of legal separation or marriage dissolution, the residence permit can be converted in permit for work or study, if in possession of needed requirements.

Lastly, there is enhanced protection against removal from the territory of the State of the foreigner who has exercised the right to family reunification or the reunited family member. This enhanced protection obliges the administration - before adopting a provision of refusing the issuance, revocation or refusal of renewal of the residence permit - to carefully verify the situation of the person concerned, considering both the danger for safety and public order, as to the length of own stay and of family and social ties.

Family reunification: requirements and procedure

The entry of family members of foreigners legally residing in Italy occurs upon the issuance of a visa for family reunification.

The entry visa must be requested by the foreigner legally residing in Italy submitting the request for authorization for reunification at the Single Desk for Immigration, using the online procedure available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

From 17 August 2017, the application procedure for family reunification is entirely digital. The Ministry of the Interior with circular 2805 of 31 July 2017 has provided instructions on the new procedure provided for by the law of 13 April 2017.

In fact, in addition to the application for authorization for reunification, which already had to be submitted electronically through the site, the documentation on the requirements on income and housing must be provided (as required by article 29, paragraph 3 of the Consolidated Immigration Act): it must be scanned by the party concerned and sent as an annex to the request for reunification. In practice, on the electronic forwarding system for Authorization application forms for family reunification (SM, T and GN), new pages will be available in order to upload the documents necessary for submitting such applications.

This innovation will allow the Single Desk to check the requirements for housing and income and to issue the authorization within 90 days - new time limit imposed by the law - from submission of the application.

List of documents to include with the application


A foreigner wishing to apply for family reunification must hold a valid residence card or residence permit valid for at least one year, or for which renewal has been requested within the prescribed terms, issued for subordinate work or self-employment reasons, or for asylum, study, religious or family reasons.

The issuance of the visa and the subsequent achievement of the reunification are subject to the check of the existence of some requirements.

The foreigner legally residing in Italy must in fact prove the availability of:

Adequate housing, i.e. with the hygienic and sanitary requirements, ascertained by the certificate of habitability. The party concerned must therefore request the appropriate certificate from the Technical Office of the Municipality of residence. If the person requesting reunification is a guest, he/she must also accompany the application for reunification with the declaration drawn up by the owner of the apartment, according to the S2 form, which includes consent to host aslo the family member or members involved in reunification. In case of reunification in favour of only one child under 14, the municipal certificate can be replaced by a declaration of hospitality by the owner of the apartment on S1 form. The applicant must also attach to the application a copy of the lease or loan agreement or ownership of the building, for a period of not less than six months, starting from the date of submission of the application.

The requirements relating to housing suitability, as indicated in the Circular of the Ministry of the Interior of 18 November 2009 no. 7170, in accordance with the European Union directive on family reunification (article 7, paragraph 1, letter a), are those contained in the Decree of 5 July 1975 of the Ministry of Health, which establishes the main hygiene and sanitary requirements of the housing areas and which also specifies the minimum area requirements of the housing, in relation to the expected number of occupants. In particular, the housing must comply with the following requirements:

Area per inhabitant:
  • 1 inhabitant: 14 square meters
  • 2 inhabitants: 28 square meters
  • 3 inhabitants: 42 square meters
  • 4 inhabitants 56 square meters
  • For each subsequent inhabitant + 10 square meters
Composition of the premises:
  • Bedroom for 1 person: 9 square meters
  • Bedroom for 2 people: 14 square meters + a living room of 14 square meters
For single-room housing:
  • 1 person: 28 square meters (including bathroom)
  • 2 people: 38 square meters (including bathroom)
Minimum height: 2.70 meters

Aeration: Living room and kitchen with opening window. Bathroom, when not with a window, equipped with a mechanical suction system

minimum annual INCOME deriving from legal sources not lower than the annual amount of the social allowance increased by half of the amount of the social allowance for each family member involved in reunification. This income parameter can be annually updated and the income necessary increases depending on the number of family members involved in reunification.

The documentation to be submitted to certify the availability of income varies according to the type of employment of the applicant:

List of documents to include with the application

For the purposes of determining income, the total annual income of family members living with the applicant is considered.

It is not necessary to demonstrate possession of the appropriate housing requirements and income for refugees.

Family members that can be involved in reunification

The foreigner in Italy can request reunification of the following family members still abroad:
  • Spouse who is over the age of 18 and with whom the person residing in Italy is not legally separated.
  • Children who at the time of the application for reunification are under 18, including those of the spouse or born out of wedlock, provided they are not married and that the other parent (if any) has expressed consent. Minor children adopted or entrusted or protected are equal to children.
  • Adult children who are dependent on the foreigner residing in Italy, when, for objective reasons, they cannot provide for their indispensable life needs for serious health reasons that entail total disability.
  • Parents dependent on the foreigner residing in Italy or parents over 65 years of age, when there are no other children able to provide for their subsistence in the country of origin or provenance or if the other children cannot provide for serious health reasons that can be documented.
In the case of parents over the age of 65, health insurance is also required. At the time the request for reunification is submitted, it is sufficient to submit a declaration of commitment to stipulate an insurance policy. This must then be stipulated within 8 days of entry into the territory of the State and before submission to the Single Desk, under the following conditions: the insurance must not have expiration date and must cover risks of illness, accidents and maternity.

Entry is also permitted for reunification with the natural parent of the minor legally residing in Italy with the other parent. The application for authorization can be presented on behalf of the minor by the regularly residing parent. For income and housing requirements, the condition of the regularly residing parent is taken into account.

Ministry of the Interior, Circular of 17 February 2009, no. 737

Following the entry into force of Law no. 118/2016, which regulates civil unions between persons of the same gender, the rules on family reunification also extend to foreign citizens of the same gender who are civilly united, among themselves or with Italian citizens.

Circular of Ministry of the Interior of 5 August 2016, no. 3511

A foreigner regularly residing in Italy cannot request family reunification if already married to another spouse residing in Italy.

Application procedure

If the application is accepted, the Single Desk shall issue the authorization for reunification, submitting online directly to the Italian Consular Offices in the country of origin or residence of the family still abroad and to be involved in reunification, opening the second phase of the procedure, or verification of the subjective requirements for issuance of an entry visa.

Family members for whom the authorization has been requested must therefore submit to the Consular Offices, together with the request for issuance of the entry visa, the certification attesting the relationship of kinship (marriage, minor age and any necessary civil status document) duly translated and legalized by the consular authority. There is no legalization when bilateral or international agreements have been concluded on the abolition of the legalization of foreign public deeds on the basis of the Convention concerning the abolition of the legalization of foreign public deeds (The Hague, 1961)

In the event that the certification requested is not available due to lack of the competent foreign authority or if the latter does not provide the necessary reliability, the diplomatic representation in the country of origin (or otherwise competent) of the family members shall issue the aforementioned documentation on the basis of the verifications deemed necessary, also by conducting the DNA examination, carried out at the expense of those concerned.

In the case of adult dependent children, the state of health can be documented through certification issued - at the expense of the applicant - by the doctor appointed by the Italian diplomatic-consular representation competent for the country of origin of the family members for whom reunification was requested.

If, on the other hand, the request is rejected, against the refusal of the authorization, it is possible to appeal to the ordinary Court of the place of residence of the applicant regularly residing in Italy.

The visa for reunification with the family member - for whom the authorization has been provided – is issued or refused within 30 days of the request. The outcome depends on the verification of authenticity by the Italian consular authority, of the documentation proving the conditions of kinship, marriage, minor age or health status of the family member.

If the applicant is holder of a refugee status, the rejection of the application cannot be justified only by the lack of documents certifying the existence of family ties or the possession of other requirements on the part of family members.

Within 48 hours of entry in Italy of the family member who has obtained the visa for reunification, the family member living in Italy must submit the written declaration of the transfer to the public security authority.

Entry with accompanying member 

If the family member who meets the requirements for reunification wishes to enter Italy at the same time and together with the family member who has already obtained an entry visa (for subordinate work related to a contract with duration no less than one year, or for self-employment, not occasional, or for study or religious reasons), it is possible to apply for an entry visa for accompanying family member. In order to obtain such a visa, it is necessary to satisfy the same conditions as for family reunification (i.e. kinship and availability of housing and income).

The procedure for issuance of the relative authorization is similar to the procedure for issuance of the authorization for family reunification. The application must be sent electronically to the Single Desk for Immigration using the T form, by means of the online procedure available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Only in this case, the foreigner who holds a residence permit that submits a request while still abroad can avail of a special proxy in Italy for submission of the application and related documentation. Therefore, when accessing the Single Desk for submission of documentation already provided for family reunification, the following must also be provided:

Photocopy of an identity document of the delegated lawyer
Proxy in favour of an Italian or foreign citizen regularly residing in Italy for the purpose of submitting the application of authorization for accompanying family members, drawn up by the foreigner who has already obtained a visa, translated and legalized by the Italian diplomatic consular representation in the country of origin or residence of the applicant.