There are several ways in which foreign nationals can immigrate to Italy and the good news is that in recent years, Italy has entered the ranks of countries that have enabled Citizenship by Investment programs also known as Italy Golden Visa. The latest change to the Citizenship by Investment Program in Italy was introduced in 2020

Foreign nationals from non-EU countries interested in immigration by investment in Italy will first obtain permanent residence permits that can later be converted into Italian passports.

Below, we will explain to you the requirements for obtaining Italian citizenship by investment — the Golden Visa for Italy.

Italy Golden Visa Program

The main program through which foreign nationals can obtain permanent residence followed by citizenship by investment in Italy is the investor visa programme. However, this program often receives different names, including Citizenship by Investment, Golden Visa in Italy, etc.

Apart from being for non-EU citizens, the investor visa program is aimed at high net worth individuals who can make a significant contribution to the Italian economy and society. That's why those interested in immigrating to Italy through the Citizenship by Investment Program — Italy Golden Visa need to make specific investments.

The main ways to obtain Italian citizenship by investment

There are different ways in which foreign nationals can obtain citizenship by investing in Italy — Italy Golden Visa. Italian immigration policies provide favorable terms for all non-EU citizens who wish to move there, as EU citizens have simpler requirements to comply with. To balance these simple requirements for EU citizens with the more stringent requirements for non-EU citizens, the authorities have created so-called residency and citizenship by investment programs for those looking to immigrate to Italy.

The main ways to obtain citizenship by investment in Italy are the Investor Visa Program (Golden Visa for Italy) and the StartUp Program which is also divided into Italia StartUp Visa and Italia StartUp Hub. Regardless of these, there are cheaper options for those who can immigrate to Italy based on a business visa and self-employment residence permit.

Conditions for obtaining Italian citizenship by investment

Those who wish to immigrate to Italy through citizenship by investment must comply with the following requirements:

  • They must be at least 18 years old at the start of the application process.
  • They must have clean criminal records and be in good health that must be documented.
  • They must invest at least half a million euros in a startup that is active in an innovative field or
  • Investing at least 1 million euros in an Italian company that meets certain criteria imposed by the government or
  • Investing at least 1 million euros in a project that has a positive impact on the Italian economy or
  • Invest a minimum of €2 million by purchasing bonds approved and issued by the Italian government.

As we have seen above, the minimum amount for which one can obtain citizenship by investment — a golden visa for Italy is half a million euros and the funds must be backed by evidence of being obtained legally.

Documents Required for Citizenship by Investment / Golden Visa for Italy

The procedure for obtaining citizenship by investment in Italy — Golden Visa for Italy can be completely extended unless all documents are prepared in accordance with the requirements imposed by the authorities. In this sense, a foreign national who is seeking a second passport by investment in Italy needs to obtain a certificate of no objection (nulla osta) before starting the procedure. This document must be obtained 6 months before entering Italy (this is also the period for issuing an investor visa).

The applicant must also have a valid passport, and must provide information about the funds intended for the investment (bank statement) and proof of how the funds were obtained. The health certificate must also be submitted along with other documents. Foreign nationals who bring family members to Italy under the Citizenship by Investment Program — Italy Golden Visa must provide information about them.

StartUp Visa Program in Italy

StartUp Visa in Italy is one of the most innovative residency programs in Europe, as the authorities here wanted to provide various options for non-EU citizens seeking to immigrate to Italy by investment.

As mentioned earlier, this scheme consists of two programs, StartUp Visa and StartUp Hub. Even if they offer similar immigration solutions, there are also some differences between them. The StartUp visa is based on the Italian StartUp law that came into force in 2012. The scheme allows non-EU citizens to obtain citizenship by investment — the golden visa for Italy by setting up a company in this country.

The following conditions must be adhered to in order to join this program:

  • The innovative company must be a newly registered company (no more than 5 years old) operating in the technology sector.
  • The company must be a limited company and cannot be listed on the stock exchange.
  • It must be headquartered in Italy or any other EU/EEA country, but in the latter case, it must have a branch in Italy.
  • The company's annual sales are less than 5 million euros.

It is important to note that a company cannot be the result of a merger or acquisition, the main objective of the activity must be the development, production and marketing of innovative goods or services.

Other requirements for those seeking citizenship by investment in Italy through this scheme are:

  • At least 15% of annual costs or turnover (whichever is greater) should be directed to research and development activities.
  • At least one third of the employees must have a Ph.D. students or Ph.D. Researchers or at least 2/3 of the staff hold a master's degree.
  • The company has a registered patent or software that falls within the intellectual property requirements.

StartUp Hub scheme in Italy

By way of comparison, the StartUp Hub provides the same criteria for the company, however, it addresses non-EU citizens with an Italian residence permit. To be eligible for this programme, the applicant must have at least €50,000 to invest in the company.

The advantage of this scheme is that it addresses the following categories of residence permit holders in Italy:

  • residence permits for students;
  • EU residence permits;
  • scientific and research visas;
  • dependent work permits;
  • residence permits for family reunification;
  • Residence visas for investors.

The StartUp Visa program and the StartUp Hub program have similar benefits, among which we mention that the entire procedure for submitting documents is completed online and all the authorities involved in the program are centralized. Furthermore, the procedure can be completed and documents submitted in English and a Certificate of No Impediment will be issued to the applicant within 30 days.

Why choose Italy for citizenship by investment?

Italy is the third most powerful European country when it comes to acquiring a second citizenship, according to the 2018 Henley Visa Index report. Italy is also unique in Europe because:

  • It has the only residence through investment program that offers flat tax rates and a 0% rate for those who retire there.
  • Italy is the third largest economy in the European Union, with a GDP of $2 trillion (according to the 2016 MIF report).
  • It is the second largest industrial economy in the Eurozone after Germany.
  • Italy has more than 20 universities in the world's top 500 academic institutions.
  • For business, Italy offers access to a market of more than 500 million consumers.*

Italy investor visa requirements

As mentioned above, the Italian government recently introduced a specific system into its immigration law, which is called the “Investor Visa”. The newly empowered Investor Visa/Golden Visa to Italy allows foreign nationals to enter and live in Italy, based on several entry quotas that are updated annually by the government, for foreigners who wish to:

  • Invest a minimum of €2 million in securities issued by the Italian government, to be held for at least two years.
  • An investment of at least €1 million in equity instruments of a company incorporated and operating in Italy, to be held for at least two years.
  • An investment of at least €500,000 in an existing innovative Italian company.
  • Make a charitable donation of at least €1 million to support a public interest project, in the areas of migration management, education, culture, restoration of cultural assets and landscapes and scientific research.

Non-resident package in Italy

The Italian government recently implemented a tax package and fast-track visa procedures to attract wealthy individuals who intend to move to Italy.

This package includes a flat tax of €100,000 on all foreign income for individuals who have become resident in Italy after at least 9 years of residence outside Italy. This flat tax is paid on an annual basis for a maximum period of 15 years. The tax package is incorporated through a fast-track visa procedure for investors and their relatives.

Under Res Non-Dom, eligible taxpayers can choose which country or countries are taxed using the alternative flat tax (the so-called “cherry pick” principle). Any income earned from “non-selected countries” (if any) is excluded from the Res Non-Dom system (in addition to income from Italian sources), and is therefore subject to ordinary Italian taxation and would benefit from tax exemption on taxes paid abroad (under normal restrictions). ) and from the relevant tax treaty protection (if applicable).

Visa Exemptions in Italy

According to the immigration legislation available in Italy, some nationalities are exempted from obtaining a visa when moving to this country. As explained above, EU citizens benefit from this exemption, but the rule also applies to nationals of the following countries:

  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Monaco
  • Vatican City
The regulation is applicable for a period of 90 days, after which it will be required to apply for permanent residence in Italy.