Let’s Talk about (self-employment) Visas: Part 3

By Avv. Michele Capecchi, LL.M.

Recently, I was asked by a reader how to go about applying for a self-employment visa in Italy. According to the rules of Italian immigration law, citizens coming from countries outside the European Union who want to enter Italy to set up a business activity or to cover a managing role within a company based in Italy, must comply with a quite tricky procedure and apply for the self-employment VISA that best fits their needs. The process to get a self-employment visa (visto di ingresso per lavoro autonomo) is definitely one of the most challenging and complex, in some respects, compared to the other types of visas. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to obtain; it just requires some time and help.

The first step in the lengthy process to gain your self-employment visa is to consult the Italian Embassy in the country where you live or have citizenship, which will provide you with information concerning the documentation needed. We also recommend that you get in touch immediately with a legal adviser specialized in immigration law (like our law firm) who will be extremely helpful in helping you understand the type of visa that best fits your needs.

Indeed when we talk about a “working visa” we refer to a general term that covers several types of titles that allow a foreign person to enter in Italy to work. The main difference is whether that person wants to start his/her own business (either as a member or shareholder of a new company or a freelancer) or he/she plans to be hired by an Italian company. The first case refers to a self employment visa, and the latter refers to an “employment visa”. In this article we will cover the basics of the “self-employment visa”, whereas for the “employment visa” we encourage you to read our specific posts HERE and HERE .

THE QUOTAS: Do I need to deal with the quotas limitation even if I want to set up a self employment activity?
One of the first (and one of the most underestimated) issues related to self employment visas is the fact that even if you want to start your own business, the restriction on the maximum number of immigrants that can enter Italy every year is still applicable.
In other terms, each year the government declares how many immigrants are allowed to enter our country, either to work as an employed person or as a self employed professional. The quota comes out once a year and the process of putting together all of the documents takes time.

Therefore, if you are either already here in Italy as a student (and maybe you plan to CONVERT YOUR STUDENT VISA TO A SELF EMPLOYMENT ONE) or if you are still in your home country, it is necessary to “move fast” once the annual quotas are announced (generally speaking at the beginning of the year) because the spots are quite limited.

Only in specific cases, related to highly qualified professionals who are hired under specific conditions, is it possible to avoid the problem of the quotas limitation.

Most of the self employment visa applications have “3 STEPS” in common:
A) The request of the so-called “Economical Parameters” and “No Impediment Declaration” from the Chamber of Commerce of the city where the applicant will set up his activity. In this respect, and very generally speaking, non-Italians wishing to pursue self-employment in Italy must prove that they are in possession of sufficient resources to do so.
B) The request of a “Nulla Osta” (a different no-impediment declaration) from the Questura (Immigration desk), dating back no earlier than three months, in which it is stated that there are no grounds preventing the issuing of the visa requested to enter in Italy and for the business that the applicant intends to run.
C) Delivering these two documents (along with others) to the Italian Consulate, and requesting the entry VISA for work purposes.

Each of these steps is quite tricky, requires specific attention, and should be discussed directly with our office, since each activity requires specific paperwork.

CAN I BRING TO ITALY the professional (and lucrative) activity I started in my home country?
If you are aiming to continue a business in Italy that you already run in another country, then the application will require a preliminary evaluation of your professional titles and whether they can be converted here. In this case the support of a legal adviser becomes even more important: he will be your legal proxy during the process of collecting the documents and filing the proper applications with the Italian authorities to determine whether your professional titles can be used and/or converted into Italian ones.
In most cases it will be necessary to have your legal proxy file a proper interrogation with the Chamber of Commerce of the place where you plan to start your business to determine whether the activity the foreign person plans to start in Italy requires specific authorizations or academic titles (the so called “No impediment declaration”), and what the “economical parameters” are that the applicant has to satisfy to start such a business.

These parameters are basically a rough calculation of the costs that the business person is expected to cover to start his/her business (such as: costs for the rent of the venue, for the furniture, to buy the products that you will sell, and the cost of renting your home).


Even if the application for a self-employment visa seems quite complex, with the proper support you have a very good chance to succeed and to enter Italy within 3-4 months from when we start the application. Our office has developed a specific “know-how” in this respect and we are able to provide very cost-effective support to collect the documents requested by the Immigration Law. There is still a margin of unpredictability in these types of applications, and also with the best efforts we cannot make promises or guarantee the outcome of the case.
If you have any questions or want a personalized analysis of your case, please do not hesitate to contact our office.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and should not substitute for counsel. The information is based on the opinion of an independent expert and does not claim to be complete or definitive.

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