In 2021, Italy received 241 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 91% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 18.7% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 20.2% labour migrants, 50% family members (including accompanying family) and 9% humanitarian migrants. Around 1 100 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 2 900 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 108 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, a 19% increase compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Romania, Albania and Morocco were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Bangladesh registered the strongest increase (+6 800) and Brazil the largest decrease (-500) in flows to Italy compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 71%, to reach around 77 000. The majority of applicants came from Bangladesh (15 000), Pakistan (11 000) and Egypt (8 800). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Bangladesh (+8 000) and the largest decrease nationals of Afghanistan (-3 100). Of the 53 000 decisions taken in 2022, 48% were positive.

Emigration of Italian citizens to OECD countries increased by 8% in 2021, to 121 000. Approximately 24% of this group migrated to Spain, 16% to Germany and 13% to Switzerland.

Following a substantial increase in 2022, Italy’s annual quota for third-country national workers rose again in 2023, indicating a continued worker shortage. The 2023 quota – announced in mid-2022 and published in January 2023 – was for 82 705 workers, up from 69 700 in 2022 (and 31 000 in the previous five years). The quota also assigned the number of seasonal (44 000) and non-seasonal workers and those admitted in different economic sectors (31 205) from countries which have signed or are negotiating migration management co-operation agreements with Italy. A further 7 500 places were set aside for status changes and self-employed individuals.

Following a new law, as of 2023 future quota numbers will be issued by the government every three years, instead of annually, the validity of residence permits issued for family reasons, indefinite contract work, self-employment changed from two to three years, extending the period between renewals extended.

Employers intending to hire a third-country national worker must first submit a request for personnel to the competent employment centre to verify the possible availability of suited workers already present in Italy. However, the hiring of seasonal workers, workers in the agricultural and tourist/hospitality sectors, and foreign workers trained abroad are exempt from this verification process.

During 2022, the deadline for third-country nationals holding residence permits to file for a change of status from a residence permit to a work permit was extended twice.

The introduction of a one-year Digital Nomad Visa was originally scheduled for the second half of 2022, but this is now on hold.

As of November 2022, Canada and Italy implemented a new Bilateral Youth Mobility Agreement allows young Canadian and Italian nationals (ages 18-35) to travel and work for up to 12 months in each other’s country. Individuals can participate twice in the programme. The programme includes three categories of participation: Working Holiday, International Co-op (internship), and Young Professional.

In December 2022, a new Regulation on the protection of unaccompanied foreign minors was approved, reaffirming the responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies in monitoring their presence and integration paths up to the age of 18. The Regulation also addresses the rules concerning residence permits for unaccompanied foreign minors and the conversion of permits upon reaching major age.

In 2022, earlier efforts to improve the protection and integration of unaccompanied foreign minors continued. Local authorities (the SAI network), the Ministry of Interior and humanitarian agencies collaborated on numerous projects to improve the reception and care of unaccompanied minors. In June 2021, an inter-institutional and inter-agency working group set out to prepare a handbook for actors and stakeholders receiving vulnerable migrants arriving to Italy, promoting a governance model for improved identification and care of vulnerable people during all phases of reception.

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