In 2020, Italy received 132 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), - 30.6% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 36% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 6.4% labour migrants, 47.1% family members (including accompanying family) and 8.8% humanitarian migrants. Around 700 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 2 100 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 91 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -48% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Romania, Albania and Morocco were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Nigeria registered the strongest increase (1 600) and Brazil the largest decrease (-11 000) in flows to Italy compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 100% to reach around 44 000. The majority of applicants came from Pakistan (6 900), Bangladesh (6 600) and Tunisia (6 400). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Tunisia (5 400) and the largest decrease nationals of El Salvador (-450). Of the 44 000 decisions taken in 2021, 50% were positive.

Two major developments should be mentioned in 2021. First, the implementation of the regularisation of unregistered migrant workers in Italy prior to 8 March 2020 continued. The process was accelerated by the recruitment of temporary workers to deal with tens of thousands of applications.

The second development was a change in the annual quota decree for seasonal and non-seasonal workers. The 2021 quota decree – passed at the end of 2021 and applicable to entries in 2022 – allowed an increase in the legal admission of foreign workers to 69 700. The ceiling had been set at about 31 000 annually in the previous five years. The quota also assigned the number of seasonal and non-seasonal workers and those admitted in different economic sectors. The number of seasonal workers was set at 42 000, up from 18 000 in previous years. Employers’ organisations in the agricultural sector were directly involved in managing the available entry quotas for seasonal workers. The number of workers in transport, construction and tourism/hospitality was set at 20 000, only from countries which have signed or are negotiating migration management co-operation agreements with Italy. Other parts of the quota are set aside for status changes. There is also a possibility the government may update the number of entries for seasonal and non-seasonal workers during the same year through the issue of new decrees.

In January 2022, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies released a multi-year integrated plan for work, integration and inclusion, following consultations with different actors. The plan, covering 2021-27, follows on the previous 7-year plan. There are seven action areas: supporting co-operation among integration actors; fighting undeclared and exploitative work and promoting dignified work and a culture of legality; inclusion of vulnerable migrants; leveraging the full potential of school-age foreigners and other migrants in accessing the labour market; promoting social and work inclusion of migrant women; social, sport and cultural participation; and promotion of legal migration channels.

Faced with the crisis that followed the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Italian Government responded with a decree declaring a state of humanitarian emergency until 31 December 2022 and adopting urgent measures to counter its economic and humanitarian effects. These include increasing the resources available to the fund for national emergencies and expanding the national reception network. In addition, recognition of health professional qualifications for Ukrainian doctors and health workers has been relaxed, allowing them temporarily to practise professionally if residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022.

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