Elective Residence Visa Italy 2020

The ultimate application guide for financially independent Italian Residence Applications.

An excellent, exceptionally affordable alternative to the Italian Golden Visa… 

Looking to obtain Italian residency without the need to make a significant capital investment? For non-EEA nationals seeking to gain residency in Italy, the Italian Elective Residence Visa Program (“residenza elettiva” in Italian) is an excellent, if relatively unknown, alternative to the Italian Golden Visa Program.

Unlike the Elective Residence Visa, the Italian Golden Visa program requires:

  • A minimum investment of €250,000 in an innovative startup, or;

  • A government bond investment of €2 million+, or;

  • A minimum business investment of €500,000 in an Italian Limited Company, or;

  • A minimum investment of €1 million in a philanthropic project that benefits Italian citizens.

While the Elective Residence Visa program does not require a minimum capital investment, it does have stringent requirements pertaining to applicants’ financial self-sufficiency.

NB: It is important to note that gaining Italian residency via this visa category is subject to a wide margin of discretion by the relevant Italian diplomatic mission, hence it is highly recommended that you work with a seasoned Italian immigration law firm to ensure a successful outcome.

Find out more about the program benefits and financial requirements below, or contact us now for a free consultation.

The Elective Residence Program at a glance

The Italian Elective Residence Visa allows financially self-sufficient foreign nationals to gain settlement rights in Italy without the need to make a significant capital investment (unless they wish to).In order to be eligible for Italian Elective Residence, applicants cannot merely be wealthy.

They specifically have to be able to provide proof of having a stable, passive source of income generating more than €31,160 per annum for individual applicants, and more than €38,000 per year for a married couple. For every dependent child included in an application, the required amount goes up by an additional 5%.

Parents of the primary applicant can also be eligible for the Elective Residence Visa on the basis of family reunification, provided that they:

  • Are financially dependent on the primary applicant

  • Have no other adult children capable of supporting them in their country of origin and current residence.

  • Are older than 65 years

  • Will be fully supported by the primary applicant while in Italy.

To be clear, salary-based income does not count towards this amount, and Elective Residence Visa holders are not allowed to do any work in Italy in order to support themselves in the country.

Once the Elective Residence Visa has been obtained, the holder must apply for an Italian Residence Permit or “Declaration of Stay (“Permesso di Soggiorno” in Italian) within 8 days of arrive in-country. This is a vital step, as it is this permit that legally allows non-EEA nationals to settle in Italy – not the Elective Residence Visa itself.

The Elective Residence Visa is generally issued for a period of either one or two years, after which it can be renewed. Once you’ve lived in Italy on a temporary residence permit for an uninterrupted period of 5 years, you can become eligible to apply for Italian permanent residence. In order to keep your Elective Residence Visa renewable, however, you cannot leave Italy for an uninterrupted period of longer than six months.

NOTE: It is important to note that the exact stated minimum requirements may vary from one Italian consulate to the next. The above amounts should therefore be treated as minimums. You are also required to keep copies of all the documents that were submitted in support of your visa application.

LEGAL BASIS: Decree MAE 850 of 2011, Attachment A, Article 13 defines the types of entrance visas for Italy, including the Elective Residence Visa, as well as the minimum requirements in order to obtain this category of visa.

Key Elective Residence Visa Requirements

  • PROOF OF SIGNFICANT PASSIVE INCOME: Applicants have to provide proof of ongoing income from sources that include pension payouts, fixed-interest bearing investments, royalties, income from long-term property lease agreements, stable dividends and similar sources.

    In some instances, proof of deferred dividend payments may be eligible as well. While the exact minimum amounts may vary somewhat from one Italian consulate or embassy to the next, the following annual income requirements are typical:

    1. Individual: €31,160 per year

    2. Married Couple: €38,000 per year

    3. Family of 3 (including 1 dependent child under 18): Approximately €40,000

    4. Family of 4: including 2 dependent children under 18): Approximately €42,000

    5. For every additional dependent (e.g. parents): Additional 5% income requirement per dependent.

NOTE: The Italian authorities review each application for the Elective Residence Visa on a case by case basis, and while there is no minimum personal net worth requirement articulated under the program’s requirements, it most likely will one of the key considerations when your application is being appraised.

In addition, a key consular consideration will be whether your passive income has been stable for a number of years, and, critically, whether it can reasonably be expected that it will stay stable in the medium to long term.

  • PROOF OF SUITABLE DOMICILE (ACCOMMODATION): Applicants have the option of purchasing a suitable home or renting a property, provided that the lease is valid and pre-paid for a period of 12 months or more at the date of application.

  • CIVIL STATUS DOCUMENTATION: You will be required to submit apostilled birth and marriage certificates, depending on whether you are applying as an individual, married couple or a family.

  • PROOF OF COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE: The primary applicant and all dependents should each have comprehensive health insurance to the value of € 30,000. This policy is to be paid upfront for a minimum of 12 months, and should cover emergency hospitalization, medi-vac and repatriation expenses throughout the EU.

  • VALID PASSPORT: You have to have a passport that will still be valid for a minimum of 3 months after the validity of your Elective Residence Visa expires (i.e. 12 months + 3 months = 15 months beyond the date on which your residency visa is approved).

  • COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM: Your Elective Residence application form must be duly completed, signed and dated. Your Italian immigration law firm will be able to assist you in ensuring your overall application is in order.

  • PROOF OF CLEAN CRIMINAL RECORD: You will have to submit proof of a clean criminal record in your country of origin or current residency, as applicable. Please confirm the exact document requirement and how recent this proof needs to be with your Italian immigration attorneys.

  • PASSPORT PHOTOS: You will be required to submit 2 recent passport photos (35mm x 45mm). These will have to feature a white background, with your face occupying 70% to 80% of the overall photograph.

Why choose the Elective Residence Visa

  • FAST PROCESS: Obtain Italian Elective Residency in as little as two months – there is simply no faster way to obtain European residency, and there’s no Golden Visa investment required.

  • NO CAPITAL INVESTMENT REQUIRED: While you can opt to purchase a property at any given price (no minimum pricing requirement, you also have the option of renting a suitable property. In this instance, you’ll have to provide a 12-month lease agreement, likely with proof of pre-payment for the first 12 months.

  • QUALITY OF LIFE: Italy is renowned as a European living destination, and with good reason. Boasting world class scenery, cities and gastronomy, it is the place to live or retire in.

  • ULTIMATE PLAN B: For non-European individuals and families, having a foothold in Western Europe, with a clear path to obtaining Italian permanent residency and eventual citizenship, can provide peace of mind and an ideal bolt-hole destination should socio-economic or political conditions suddenly deteriorate in their home country.

  • FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION: Dependent children under the age of 18 can access public school tuition free of charge.

  • NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICES ACCESS: You and your dependent family members are eligible to register for access to Italy’s public health services(registration fees apply).

  • PATH TO ITALIAN PERMANENT RESIDENCE: Your Elective visa and residency permit can be renewed annually for the first 5 years, provided that you can still prove adequate financial means and meet all the relevant requirements. If you have held legal residency in Italy for a period of 5 years, provided that you registered with your local city hall upon arrival, maintained either property ownership or continually rented, filed tax returns, and are able to pass a basic language proficiency test, you can become eligible to apply for Italian Permanent Residency (PR).

  • PATH TO ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP: After 10 years of legal residency in Italy, you could become eligible to apply for Italian Citizenship, provided that you’ve been registered as a resident with your local City Hall, filed tax returns for a minimum of 3 years prior to your application, and have a taxable income of circa €9,000 per single applicant, €11,500 per married couple, and €560 additionally per dependent family member.