Italy is emerging as one of the top immigration destinations for Americans because it offers a perfect mix of incredible culture, investment opportunities, and an easy lifestyle. Italian citizenship opens you to visa-free travel across the EU. It also provides access to one of the best education and healthcare systems in the world. The best part is that you can explore a variety of routes to claim citizenship in Italy. The most popular among these are citizenship by descent, marriage, and naturalization.
Does it mean that you will need ancestral roots or an Italian spouse to immigrate to the country and start a life here? No, you have a quicker and easier option that doesn’t need you to fulfill these eligibility requirements. The Golden Visa route gets you a step closer to your Italian dream if you are willing and able to invest in the country. Foreign citizens of non-EU origin can first obtain permanent residence permits through this program. They can later get the status converted into Italian passports. Let us explain the program and process in detail.
The Golden Visa Program – An Introduction
The golden visa for Italy is an excellent option for aspirants who want to move to the country and expedite their citizenship process. It is specifically meant for non-EU citizens and high net worth individuals capable of making a significant contribution to the local economy. The process is simple and fast, and you get the rights at par with the other citizens once you have residency. You can fulfill the long-term goal of Italian citizenship eventually with a few subsequent steps. It means that Golden Visa opens up the option to settle in the country even without heritage or marriage options. Additionally, the speed of the process is commendable.
Investment options for eligibility
The eligibility for Golden Visa hinges on the investment you can make in the country because this visa option is meant for investors. Let us list the investment options you can explore:
- Startup investment: You will need to invest €250,000 in an existing local startup working in an innovative field.
- Company investment: You will have to invest in a local company incorporated and operating in the country. The investment must be held for at least two years.
- Donation: A donation worth €1 million makes you eligible, provided you support a public interest project in fields such as education, culture, immigration management, or preservation of cultural and natural heritage.
- Government bonds: An investment of €2 million in government bonds also makes you eligible for the option, but you should be willing to hold it for a minimum of two years.
Further, an individual must be over the age of 18 years when starting the application procedure. A good state of health and clean criminal records are also required as a part of the eligibility norms. You will need documentary evidence of these facts and the validity of your investment to move ahead with the process. Let us explain the process in detail now.
The Golden Visa process
Once you know the eligibility requirements for the investors’ visa and are all set with the finances, you will expect to understand the process in detail. It makes sense to be aware of the steps, timelines, and assistance requirements in advance so that you can handle things accordingly. While a recent guide explained the investment process quite thoroughly here, we will highlight the key steps in short. These three steps will give you a basic understanding of things and make it easier to complete them at the earliest.
Step #1: Get started with a nulla osta
The first step is to obtain a nulla osta, a ‘no impediment’ certificate from the Investors Committee for Italy. It is the Italian legislative body for issuing investor visas for Italy. Obtaining a nulla osta isn’t much work, and you can expect the certificate within just 30 days of application. You can do it online, and the process is free. The best thing about the Italian golden visa is that you do not have to invest money before approval, which is the case in other countries. A simple declaration stating the intention to invest is enough to get approval. The system curbs the risk of the money being tied up if the application ends up getting rejected. You will need to scan and submit a list of documents online to apply for the nulla osta. Here is the list of documents:
- Your passport for personal identification
- Your CV
- A police clearance to indicate a clean criminal record
- Proof of funds certificate to validate that the money you intend to invest is your own and acquired legally
- A declaration to invest the minimum sum in Italy
- A description of the chosen investment route
- A proof that the intended recipients of funds have given their consent to investment
- A declaration of the Italian municipality where you wish to settle
The documents could be in English or Italian, so you will not need official translations or apostilles. It makes the process much easier if you have them in English and from the country of your current residence. Apart from these documents, you will also have to set up an e-signature to complete the application. The Investors Committee will verify the documents and provide the decision within 30 days.
Step #2: Obtain the investor visa
After getting the nulla osta, you have six months to apply for the investor visa to ensure that you do not miss out on the validity period. The application has to be submitted at the nearest Italian embassy or consulate. You will have to submit the following documents for the process:
- A copy of nulla osta
- A passport picture
- A valid passport
- Proof of Italian accommodation (a hotel booking confirmation will suffice)
- Income proof the previous fiscal year
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family (approximately €8,500 per person per year)
- Proof of current residence
These documents must be in Italian or English to be considered valid.
Step #3: Get the Italian residence permit
The final step after getting your investor visa is to obtain your residence permit. You can enter Italy after receiving the visa. The next step is to apply for your residence permit within its validity period, which is two years. To apply for the Italian Investor Visa Residence Permit, you will have to visit the local police station in Italy within eight business days of landing here. You will need to give your passport pictures and identification documents, along with a fee of approximately $100. Once you get the permit, it is valid for two years from the day you land in Italy with your golden visa. At this stage, you will have to make the committed investment within three months. If you fail to do it, the visa will be canceled.
Towards Italian citizenship by naturalization
Obtaining your Italian Investor Visa Residence Permit is the first step towards getting citizenship. The permit’s validity is for two, so you will have to apply for a renewal before it expires. But it requires maintaining the original investment in the country. If you fail to continue, the residence permit will be revoked. After renewal, the validity of your permit will extend for a further three years. After these five years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. Once you complete ten years of residence, you can apply for Italian citizenship by naturalization.
Is the Golden Visa worth the investment?
Although the golden visa is relatively simple from the process perspective, it involves big money. You will expect to understand its benefits to decide whether it is worth the investment. Let us highlight them for you.
- The best thing about European residence is that you get the freedom to travel visa-free in all of Europe. You can live, settle, or work anywhere in the Schengen area. Incredibly, you have the whole of Europe right at your fingertips!
- Once you have your golden visa and residence permit, you can get your family here. It includes your spouse, children, and dependent parents. They also become the residents of Italy without any additional investment.
- You get the advantage of subsequent citizenship by naturalization. Once you have it, a whole world of benefits will open up for you and your family members.
- Investors residing in Italy get the advantage of the country’s flat tax option. This system subjects your foreign-earned income to a maximum annual tax cap of €100,000 annually.
A slice of Italian lifestyle and culture makes the investment in the golden visa worthwhile. Now that you know how it works, you can go ahead and materialize your Italian dream with these simple steps. Even better, you can collaborate with an Italian citizenship expert to guide you and show you the way through the entire process. Although the process is relatively straightforward, expert advice gives you a definite advantage with the paperwork and steps. Find someone you can rely on and go ahead!