Immigration: new points of interest for highly qualified workers

Last Updated on November 10, 2023

Directive (EU) 2021/1883 is transposed in Italy by Legislative Decree No. 152 of 18 October regarding the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals intending to perform highly qualified work.

The measure amends the Consolidation Act on immigration (in particular Article 27-quater of Legislative Decree 286/1998) and updates the requirements and procedures for issue of the so-called EU Blue Card, namely the work permit issued, for periods of more than three months and outside the quotas established by the Flow Decree, to foreigners in possession of specific educational and/or professional qualifications.

The Decree first redefines the objective requirements for entry into Italy, introducing, as an alternative, possession of:

  • a diploma attesting to higher education lasting at least three years or a certified professional qualification;
  • the requirements pursuant to Legislative Decree 206/2007 recognising professional qualifications for access to the exercise of regulated professions;
  • a higher professional qualification attested by at least 5 years’ experience;
  • a higher professional qualification attested by at least 3 years’ experience for managers and specialists in the field of information and communication technologies.

From a subjective point of view, this broadens EU Blue Card eligibility to also include beneficiaries of international protection, seasonal workers, individuals who have entered Italy to perform subordinate work as an intra-corporate transferee as well as family members of EU citizens who have exercised or are exercising their right to free movement.

The requirements for companies wanting to hire foreigners have also been modified. Applications for work permits must in fact indicate a proposed contract or job offer of at least six months’ duration (and no longer one year) as well as an amount of annual remuneration no lower than that set by NCBAs (National Collective Bargaining Agreements) (stipulated by the most comparatively representative union associations) and in any case, no lower than the average gross annual salary according to ISTAT surveys. We remind you that, until now, this remuneration was set as no lower than three times the minimum level established for exemption from health care contributions.

With regard to access to the labour market, the maximum period of time for which Blue Card holders are required to exclusively carry out only work activities compliant with the conditions for which the card was issued has been reduced from 2 years to 12 months, after which period, they can freely seek employment just like other citizens. They may also be self-employed while they carry out the highly qualified employment activity.

Finally, the provisions for foreign holders of Cards issued by another member state have also been modified, and they may now enter Italy to carry out a highly qualified professional activity for a period of time:

  • not exceeding 90 days in a 180-day period (short-term mobility) or
  • exceeding 90 days, if the person has already legally resided for 12 months (no longer 18) in the country that issued the Card, without the need for a visa and subject to issue of a work authorisation (nulla osta) within 30 days (no longer 60) from the application (long-term mobility).

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