Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard the news that Italy has introduced a Digital Nomad Visa that is designed to make it easier for highly qualified and skilled people, to move to Italy and work remotely.
This is huge news and ran through the internet like wildfire, and I understand why.
Let’s face it, a year in Italy (or more) is on the bucket list of many people but waiting until you are retired is simply too long to bear. Getting into Italy on a regular Self Employment Visa is notoriously difficult, and reliant on the quota system that only allotted 500 spots in 2022. That is barely scratching the surface of how many people want to move to Italy and work remotely. So, the idea of a new Visa that doesn’t rely on these mysterious quotas is welcome news indeed!
They say that it only takes 90 days of doing something to make it routine, and with almost two years of remote working being effective, not only have the companies, workers, and consumers warming to the idea but so are many government immigration policies.
We have seen countries like Greece and Croatia offer a similar visa, which although entangled in bureaucracy, shows that they are moving in the right direction. Why not allow highly skilled individuals, with a job to move to Italy, spend their money, and pay taxes? They are not taking a job; they already have one. If they report and pay taxes to use the services of their community, I say open the doors!
Unfortunately, I am not the one making the decisions.
Here is what we know so far from the digital nomad visa, sprinkled with some Italian reality from our Immigration lawyer Marco Mazzeschi.
The digital nomad visa, although has been approved, still has a way to go before we know all of the details are hashed out.
And you know, the devil is always in the details.
But for now, let’s keep an open mind.
They said it should be agreed upon within thirty days from the proposal which was approved and converted into law on March 28, 2022. (L. 55 del 28 Marzo 2022, art. 6-quinquies) that the government will define the application procedure, requirements for issuing the residence permits, the categories of workers that will be affected, and the minimum income that the applicant must meet.
“Thirty days would mean something should be coming down the pipe in the next week or so, right?” I asked our immigration lawyer Marco Mazzeschi, in my ever optimist, anything-is-possible tone.
“Samantha. I love your optimism.” He replied. Although we were on WhatsApp, I have spoken to Marco enough to know he was smiling as he replied.
“This visa will take three political parties, who are always opposing, and one independent technician to agree on a set of rules. In thirty days? Samantha, this is Italy!”
Ok, so my optimism was corrected. First lesson, this will take time to flesh out and the details are still far from concrete. The application requirements and the procedure for granting and issuing the permit will be transposed into the Italian Consolidated Immigration Law – Testo unico sull’immigrazione (Legislative Decree no. 286 of 1998).
Let’s break down what they will have to agree on.
First the definition.
Digital nomads (also called remote or smart workers) must be “citizens of a third country who carry out highly qualified work activities through the use of technological tools that allow working remotely, autonomously or for a company based outside Italy.”
So, you have to be a non-Italian/EU citizen, have a job with a company that is not Italian, or are self-employed and can work with a phone and computer. Easy enough, and after Covid, this covers a lot of people.
Applicants will not need to get the Nulla Osta (work permit) but instead can apply directly at the Consulate within their jurisdiction for the Digital Nomad Visa. You will need comprehensive health insurance and agree to all the Italian tax and social security obligations. In other words, if you are earning money while you are sipping a Spritz in a Piazza, Italy wants a piece of it.
Here is where the water begins to get murky…
The application process and granting of the Digital Nomad Visa will be at the discretion of each Consulate. For anyone who has done their homework, you already know that each Consulate is vastly different in its requirements and approval rates. What this is going to mean to you, the hopeful digital nomad is that your application will ultimately be up to the decision of your consulate.
Once this visa is put into action, and applications begin to flood the Consulates we expect to see vastly different procedures and results. Identical applicants can, and likely will, see different decisions, which will cause some confusion and frustration.
It will take time. More than thirty days, to know exactly how and if the Digital Nomad Visa will live up to its hype and provide an opportunity for employed foreigners to experience life and culture in Italy, and for Italy to benefit from the additional tax revenue and disposable cash injection into the economy.
In my opinion, the Digital Nomad Visa is a win-win for everyone, but you will need to keep an open mind and expect the playbook to change.
If you are interested in applying for the Digital Nomad Visa for Italy, jump on the waitlist for our upcoming Digital Nomad Visa Application Workshop to help you prepare and apply for this new and exciting way to move to Italy. The workshop date will be set as soon as we have the final decree from the Government. We expect it to fill fast, so grab a seat on the waitlist to be first in line.
To put a finer point on an otherwise excellent summary, prospective applicants should be aware that Italy taxes on all income worldwide. Itaky is, to make a bad pun, banking getting a sizable chunk of incomes of tech-oriented people typically found in the U.S.
Its worth noting that the average household income (not per capta, but of the entire family) is only about 31,000 euros / year — a fraction of the income of most Americans. Italy sees its coffers overflowing with new gains enforced by the Guardia Finanza
I also agree that this is a win-win proposition. But one thing that almost never gets mentioned in the glowing articles about this new option are the tax implications. Few people (at least few Americans) seem to realize that Italy levies income taxes on all income world-wide. I’m sure someone in the national taxing authority knows that many American workers make considerably more than the average Italian worker. In fact, the median income for Italian households (households not individuals) is only 31,000 euros per year. The tax revenue from all these digital nomads, therefore, is being shifted from the U.S. to Italy.
Finally, some people my be assuming that the DN is a ticket to live in Italy permanently. The law allows one year with a one year renewal. So its not a path to residency. In other words, Italy would love to get the money from well-paid Americans for couple of years. (Sorry to sound so mercenary). But its still a win-win .