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Freelancing in Italy

How to Apply for a Freelance Work Visa

In Part Two on her series on working in Italy legally, Emma Bird explains the step-by-step process of applying for a freelance visa. (In Part One, Take a Look-See Trip to Italy, Emma discusses taking an initial trip to Italy to investigate job opportunities.)

Freelancing in Italy is not for the fainthearted, but as an "extracomunitario," the Italian word for non-EU citizens regardless of whether you're an illegal immigrant or a bone-fide business person — it is your best bet for gaining a work visa.

EU-widening to include the former Soviet Bloc means an ever dwindling number of visas on offer. Since only a set amount are given out each year, these acquire the value of gold dust. So before you decide to venture down this route ask yourself if you are prepared to deal with all the legwork and the constant flitting backwards and forwards between Italy and America as you deal with the relevant authorities.

Your freelance visa will only be valid for the length of your work contract — if your employer states that he is willing to hire you for one month, your visa will only cover this period. Thus it makes more sense to secure job offers from as many different sources as possible and present all of these to the Questura in the town you will be living and working in. The longer you can find work for, the longer your visa will last.

While you can only apply for the visto di lavoro autonomo at the Italian Consular Office in your area of residence, you will need to be possess the nulla osta, which can only be obtained in Italy.

As long as you have a valid contract from an employer, this is a relatively straightforward process.

To apply for the nulla osta you will need:

1. A signed contract from employer which sets out the nature of the work you will have to do and the amount of time it will take. This must have been signed and dated no more than three months from when you apply for the nulla osta.

2. The certificate of registration for the company you intend to work for. The company should have a copy. If not, you can obtain one from the Camera di Commercio (Chamber of Commerce) where the company is registered. If the company is based in the U. S., the certificate of registration must be stamped by the relevant Italian Consulate.

3. A letter from a potential employer saying "We will consider taking on X when she has the work visa" will get you nowhere ; it is, in the eyes of the Italian state, an empty promise. The letter must be written by the legal representative of the company to the Direzione Provinciale del Lavoro (provincial labor office) in the Italian province you will be working in. It must state that there will be no dependent work relationship between you and the firm. The Direzione Provinciale del Lavoro will stamp it for received and send this back to you.

4. Documentation proving that your income will exceed the Italian annual minimum wage and that your earnings in the previous work year also exceeded this figure.

5. A copy of the company's most recent tax return.

Take this information to the Questura in the town you will working in and apply for your nulla osta. Unless you know someone who works there, this normally involves a long wait in order to make your request. Once it has been accepted, your nulla osta will be made available after 20 days.

Once you have your nulla osta, you will have to return to America within six months in order to apply for the work visa.

To apply for the work visa you will need:

  1. Nulla osta;
  2. application form, along with passport photos, filled out completely and signed in front of a Consular Office;
  3. valid passport, the expiration date of which must exceed your intended stay in Italy by at least three months;
  4. proof of residence in the area where you are applying for the work visa;
  5. proof of lodging in Italy. (this can be owned or a rental and does not have to be in your name);
  6. evidence that your income will exceed the minimum wage below which the Italian Government provides free public health insurance;
  7. your flight itinerary;
  8. money order for visa fees.

Arriving in Italy legally is your goal. Once there, try to meet as many non-EU workers as possible. Although you may prefer to hang out with Italians, expats, particularly if they have been there a long time, will have a wealth of information for you to tap into.

More information can be obtained from the Italian Foreign Office at www.esteri.it

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