Unmatched heritage, millennia-old cities, and a sprawling countryside dotted with centuries-old vineyards have beckoned tourists from around the globe to Italy. More recently, however, many foreigners have flocked to Italy as investors. Making the headlines over the past few years has been numerous Italian investment properties selling for as low as $1.
From the southern town of Sicily to the northern Alps, towns have been offering bargain properties with the hope of attracting new residents to breathe new life into dying communities. With the influx of investors from around the world, Italy has joined the ranks of other European countries to create a system for granting citizenship by investment. This is possible thanks to the Italy Golden Visa program. Let’s take a look at Italy’s Golden Visa program and what you can expect when applying.
What is Italy’s Golden Visa?
Before diving too deep into the visitor visa, it is important to understand what this program is. The Italian visitor program, also known as the Golden Visa for Italy program, is a way to gain temporary residence in the country which can be permanent later. Various European countries have been running visitor programs for investor residences for a while. Italy was late to the European Golden Visa program implementing policies in 2017. Portugal and Ireland were some of the earlier countries to recognize the importance of this type of program and have enjoyed some success.
Aside from being for non-EU citizens, the Golden Visa program seeks to attract high-income individuals willing to make a significant investment in the Italian economy and community. This is why those interested in participating in the program must make certain investments and meet specific requirements.
What are the requirements?
While all non-EU citizens can seek the Italian investor visa and residence permit, all applicants must make one of a few specific investments. An interested investor must devote 250,000 euros into an existing local startup or make a 500,000 euro investment in a company already incorporated and operating in Italy. A third option is for an investor to donate 1 million euros to a philanthropic public interest project such as education, culture, immigration, cultural heritage, or scientific research. Finally, an investor may qualify for a visa if they make a two-year, 2 million euro investment in government bonds.
While there are a few options for monetary eligibility, there are a few other things to consider. The first is that there is no real estate option. If you are looking to renovate and move into one of the $1 seaside villas, you will also need to make one of the other investments. Secondly, except for the government bond, the investments can be pretty high risk. Finally, aside from the financial investment requirements, you must be at least 18 years of age, have a clean criminal record, and be able to prove that you obtained your financial assets legally.
What are the application steps?
Once you have decided to move forward with participation in the Golden Visa program you will first need to obtain a “nulla osta” certificate. This is a certificate of “no impediment” issued by the Investor Committee for Italy. Accompanying your application will need to be proof of your investment or a declaration committing the funds once approved. You will also need a few supporting documents including a passport, a resume, and a police clearance or background check.
Once you receive the “nulla osta” certificate, the next step is to obtain the investor visa. Coordinating with your local Italian embassy or consulate, you will need to submit proof of your residence in your home country, your “nulla osta”, plans for Italian accommodations, income statements, and a valid passport. These documents need to be presented in either Italian or English.
Finally, once you have cleared both of these hurdles, you will need to work on your Italian residence permit. Your investor visa will be good for two years and you will need to obtain a temporary residence permit within that time period. Once you arrive in Italy, you will need to visit the local police station with your identification and proof of your investor visa. You will then be granted a two-year temporary residence permit.
After you obtain your residence permit you will have three months to fulfill your investment commitment. You will then have two years to establish your life in Italy and maintain your investment. After two years, if you’ve maintained your commitments, you can be granted another three-year residence permit. After five years you can obtain a permanent residence permit. If you are willing to invest some money and time, the Italian Golden Visa program can open a door to permanent residence and even permanent citizenship.