Elective Residence Visa Italy: Ultimate Application Guide 2021

Note: Also be sure to check out the Portugal D7 Visa and Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa for alternative financially independent visa options in the EU.

Looking to obtain Italian residency and eventual citizenship? Apart from the Italian Investor Visa and Startup Visa options, there also exists a lesser-known alternative: The Italian Elective Residence Visa Program (Residenza Elettiva). The Italian Elective Residence path is well suited as a long-term visa for wealthy retirees with significant annuity or pension based income, or for individuals with stable passive income not stemming from any subordinate work activity (e.g. stable property rental income).

Find out more about the program below, or contact us now for more information.

The Elective Residence Visa at a glance

The Elective Residency Program Ideally suited to non-EEA nationals who rely on passive income and don’t need to work to support themselves and their dependent family members. Significantly, the program does not require a minimum capital investment to gain Italian residency, making it an excellent alternative to the Italian Investor Visa and startup program for those who can meet the minimum eligibility criteria. While the program does not have a stated minimum net worth requirement, this criterion is factored in holistically and on a case-by-case basis.

The Elective Residence Visa is generally issued for a period of 12 months, although it has in some historical instances been issued for an initial period of 48 months. The visa is annually renewable, provided that your financial situation has not changed, and that you still meet all of the program’s minimum requirements.

After having held Elective Residency status for a period of 5 years, you may become eligible to apply for permanent Italian residency. Elective residents can become eligible to apply for Italian citizenship after 10 years of having obtained and maintained Elective Residency status, however, as is the case with the elective program, governmental discretion can play a major role in this process.

Government discretion plays a large role in application appraisals, and without the help of an expert Italian immigration lawyer, the risk of rejection can be high.

At the outset, it must be noted that application approval for the Elective Residence Visa is by no means guaranteed. Unlike in the instance of an ancestral residency application, there is no enshrined right obliging the Italian authorities to grant an application for elective residence, nor to consider any rejection appeals, for that matter. It is therefore of paramount importance to ensure that one’s application and supporting documentation conform to the exact requirements and technical specifications.

Another challenge associated with the program is that there exists no singular body of authoritative government guidance on what’s required, making the probability of success as an independent applicant low – and highly dependent on the discretion of the Italian bureaucrat you deal with on the day. Also, within this context, not being fluent in Italian virtually guarantees an unsuccessful outcome.

It is therefore highly advisable that individuals wishing to apply for elective residency work closely with a seasoned Italian immigration law firm to ensure the best chances of success.

Our Italian supply chain partners are seasoned Italian immigration law practitioners, and can guide you through every step of the application compilation and submission process with ease. Submit the below contact form to request a free consultation, or find out more about the 2020 program criteria below…

Key program criteria 2021

  1. WHICH NATIONALITIES ARE ELIGIBLE: Any person who is not an EU citizen or an Icelandic, Norwegian, Swiss or Lichtenstein national, must apply for an Elective Residency Visa if they wish to reside in Italy for longer than 90 days at a time.

  2. WHERE TO APPLY: Up until 2020, the norm has been that one cannot apply for the Elective Residency Visa from within Italy – applications have to be submitted via the consulate in your country of origin or residency. Having said that, the impact of Covid-19 has led to some exceptions being made to this rule.

  3. CONFIRMATION OF REQUIREMENTS: Another key point to note is that Italian consulates will not have exactly the same application criteria, making it vital to consult both an expert law firm based in Italy and your local Italian consulate to confirm the latest requirements prior to commencing your application. The immigration law firm you contract with should be able to assist you in this regard.

  4. PROOF OF FINANCIAL MEANS: While every detail of this type of residency visa application is important, proof of adequate, passively derived financial resources is the key requirement under this program. For a single applicant, the minimum annual passive income proof requirement is around €31,160, and €38,000 for married couples.

    For each dependent child being added to the application, the minimum required amount increases by 20%. The per-person threshold is significantly lower for married couples, and it is therefore easier to meet the passive income requirements as a married couple than as two individual applicants.

  5. PROOF OF PASSIVE INCOME: This is another key requirement: eligible income has to be passively and stably generated, either in the form of annuities, royalties, pension income, long term rental income or in the form of regular dividend payments. The authorities have to be convinced that your income source and the value thereof will remain stable over time. No income derived from working activities is considered eligible, and as an elective residence permit (permesso di soggiorno per residenza elettiva) holder you are also not allowed to do any work to derive an income while based in Italy.

    Furthermore, the Italian authorities must be satisfied that your source of income can reasonably be expected to continue over time. Passive income derived from non-conventional sources, e.g. from online affiliate marketing, may be appraised by the Italian authorities on a case by case basis.

  6. PROOF OF COMPREHENSIVE, EU-WIDE HEALTH INSURANCE: While regular Italian residents enjoy universal healthcare access, Elective Residence visa holders are required to submit proof of comprehensive medical insurance upon application. Eligible healthcare policies must cover all medical expenses stemming from prescriptions, doctors’ consultations, EU hospitalisation, ambulance transportation as well as international medical evacuation. The policy should offer coverage of at least €30,000 per person per year, and must be pre-paid in full for a minimum of 12 months.

  7. PROOF OF ITALIAN DOMICILE: A further important requirement for Elective Residence is proof of housing: You have the option to purchase a home (no minimum value prescribed) and submit a certified copy of your purchase contract, or alternatively a lease agreement (minimum 12 month future validity) or proof of a property gift transfer or life interest entitlement (proof of life right or “usufrutto”) may be sufficient as well.

  8. PROOF OF MARITAL STATUS: For the reasons stated above under Point 4, the authorities tend to scrutinize the supporting documentation pertaining to couples’ marriage status. Proof needs to be submitted in Italian, so if your marriage certificate is issued in English, you’ll need to have it professionally translated and apostilled. Be sure to check your local consulate’s procedural and formatting requirements in this regard.

    Existing financial resources (liquid capital assets, savings, etc.) can serve as multiples of the minimum annual income requirement, yet in recent years the authorities have become less inclined to consider cash lump sums as eligible income – recurring passive income sources are preferred.

  9. TIMING YOUR APPLICATION: In addition, you should also expect a delay of several months between booking a consular appointment and being granted a time slot.

  10. PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: Ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 3 blank pages in it, and that will be valid for at least 3 months after the requested period of your requested Italian residency visa.

  11. PASSPORT PHOTO FORMAT REQUIREMENTS: You’ll require two recent passport-sized photos taken against a white background. Scanned or electronically copied images are not acceptable, and it is recommended that you double-check your local consulate’s current requirements ahead of your consular appointment.

  12. AIR TICKETS: While proof of your departure dates and travel arrangements are not required, these can further lend strength to your application, and including them is advisable.

  13. APPLICATION FORMS: If you are applying for more than one person, be sure to complete an individual application form per person.

  14. POLICE CLEARANCE: Applicants must have a clean criminal record, and need to submit recent, official police clearances issued in their country of origin.

The Elective Residence Visa Application Process 2021

STEP 1: Complete a pre-approval with an expert Italian immigration law firm to determine whether you meet the minimum program eligibility criteria.

 STEP 2: Complete and sign your client mandate agreement with the law firm and pay the required contract initiation fees.

 STEP 3: Book a consular appointment with your local Italian consulate or designated consulate of a corresponding EU country. 

STEP 4: Duly complete a copy of the Elective Residency Visa application form for each of the applicants and dependents.

STEP 5: Compile all mandatory supporting documentation with your client case advisor.

STEP 6: Attend your consular appointment and submit all the requisite forms and supporting documentation in person.

STEP 7: Pay your governmental visa application fee.

STEP 8: Should your application be successful, travel to Italy and apply for your Italian Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno) within 8 days of your arrival.

The Italian Residence Permit Application Process 2021

STEP 1: Obtain the residency permit application forms from your local post office in Italy.

STEP 2: Complete the relevant forms and submit it at the same post office, along with copies of all the required documents. You will be given a receipt; insist on one if not supplied.

 STEP 3: Visit your nearest police headquarters and submit the originals of all of your required application documents. Your fingerprints will be taken, and you may be asked a series of questions pertaining to your application, motivations and living arrangements in Italy. 

STEP 4: The Police Headquarters (Questra) will notify you once your Italian Residence Permit has been issued. This correspondence may take place via SMS, so be sure to get a local Italian mobile phone number activated ahead of this process.

PROCESSING TIME: The Elective Residency Visa is one of the most regulated visa types in Italy, and immigration authorities may take up to 2 months or more to review your application once submitted. The entire process can take up to 8 months, so it is vital that you start your application in a timely manner ahead of your intended travel dates.

Fees from €7,995. Contact the Italian Elective Residence Visa Experts today

Our Italian partners offer a comprehensive, end to end advisory service, covering advice and assistance at every step of your application process. In addition, they can also advise and assist on property acquisitions and the transfer process, should you elect to buy a property in Italy. Boasting years of experience in the facilitation of Elective Residency applications, they can help you avoid all the potential pitfalls and ensure that your application is as fast and seamless as possible.