Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Global Updates: ITALY


Several developments have been announced.

Citizenship Reform

The lower house of parliament has approved amendments to current Italian citizenship law (Law 91 of 1992), introducing significant changes to the citizenship acquisition process for children born in Italy of foreign parents. For the child to be eligible for citizenship, at least one parent must hold a European Union permit for long-term residents. Significant changes will also apply to foreign citizens who immigrated to Italy before the age of twelve. The new rules also facilitate citizenship application for those born in Italy who have resided there uninterruptedly until the age of 18. Before the amendments become law, they must be approved by the Italian upper house of parliament (Senate). 

If approved, the reform will affect primarily eligibility requirements and the citizenship application process for the children of immigrants. The reform has taken into account the following possible scenarios:

Foreign children born in Italy:

  • Are considered Italian by birth if at least one of their parents has acquired permanent resident status (i.e., possesses a permanent European Community (EC) residence permit if non-European Union (EU) or, for EU citizens, has acquired permanent right of residence);
  • Are entitled to receive Italian citizenship if they have attended school for at least five years (if they attended primary school, they must have completed it successfully).

Foreign children who arrived in Italy within 12 years of age:

  • Are entitled to receive Italian citizenship if they have attended school for at least five years (if they attended primary school, they must have completed it successfully). 

In the above situation, parents must apply at the local city council before the child becomes 18, or the child can apply up to 20 years of age. 

Foreign children who arrived in Italy before the age of 18:

  • Can apply for citizenship if have resided regularly in Italy for at least six years and have successfully completed a cycle of education.

A temporary provision has also been introduced allowing those who are older than 20 but otherwise meet the new eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship. They may apply within one year after the new law enters into force. The eligibility requirements include having attended school for at least five years or more than one cycle of education and having resided regularly and uninterruptedly in Italy in the last five years. If they attended primary school, they must have completed it successfully. 

News on Integration Agreement Assessment Procedure

The Ministry of Interior clarified the assessment procedure of the Integration Agreement in a circular letter of September 30, 2015.

Under the new regulation:

  • Upon expiration of the agreement’s validity period (two years plus a one-year extension), if authorities cannot proceed with the assessment or if the foreigner has not attained full compliance (30 credits), the agreement will be considered partially fulfilled (with some exceptions). As a consequence, residence permit renewal rejection will not be automatic but at the authorities’ discretion. 
  • Foreigners previously legally residing in Italy who have signed the agreement as part of an immigration application will not be required to execute a further agreement in case of a new application for residence in Italy.

Update on Conversion of Study Permit to Work Permit

The Administrative Court of Piemonte (judgment no. 1530 of September 30, 2015) has confirmed that an application to convert a residence permit for study into a residence permit for work can only be filed before the study permit expiration date. It is not possible to apply for conversion after the expiration date of the permit, even if a renewal application is pending.

New Electronic Residence Permit With Microchip

As of November 10, 2015, residence permits are being issued according to the format provided for in Regulation (EC) No 380/2008 and Italy Ministerial Decree July 23, 2013.

The new permit is made of plastic paper containing a digital component. The digital component is made up of an embedded chip containing memory plus a microprocessor to digitally store biometric data and information. In the microchip, all the holder’s biometric features and personal data as well as photo and fingerprints are stored. The microchip is not visible externally and the card looks like any other identification document, showing the holder’s photo and limited data on its surface. These features increase document security, preventing misuse through the misappropriation of biometric data and enhancing the bond between the holder and the document. The new permit features allow Italian and European police to “read” the data stored and display them on the screen for immediate access, making it possible to check instantly if they match with the data stored in the main police database.

Impact on new and current applications:

  • Applications submitted before November 10, 2015: the permit is issued according to the “old” format
  • Applications submitted after November 10, 2015: applicants receive the new electronic residence permit
  • Holders of valid Residence permits: no action is required; the permits maintain validity. Upon renewal, holders are issued the new electronic permit 

At a local level, the Florence Immigration Police department has sent an official communication on the application procedures, which will be subject to some changes. In particular:

  • All applicants will receive an individual residence permit card, regardless of their age. For minors, the card will be connected to the mother’s permit. 
  • Fingerprints are now required from children aged 6 or older.
  • Minor children’s presence is therefore mandatory both when fingerprints are taken and at the residence permit retrieval appointment. 

The above procedures are expected to apply soon to all Immigration Police departments throughout Italy. Therefore, they should be followed by all applicants.

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Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.