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Starting January 2017, Italian immigration law makes visas available to immigrant investors seeking to enter Italy to engage in capital investments that benefit the Italian economy. Particular attention is given to funding leading to job creation and to investments connected with start-up companies, advanced training, scientific research and patronage activities.

In addition, in an effort to attract foreign investments, tax and financial reliefs for foreigners transferring their tax residency in Italy are provided for.

To qualify as an immigrant investor, a foreign national must invest the following minimum capital euro amounts:

  1. At least 2 million in Italian government bonds - funds to be kept for a period of at least 2 years; or
  2. At least 1 million in equity instruments of company based and operating in Italy or 500.000 in case of a start-up company; or
  3. At least 1 million philanthropic funding supporting projects of public interest in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes.

Other eligibility conditions:

  1. Provide documentary evidence of being the beneficial owner of the above amounts, which must be in any case readily available and transferable to Italy;
  2. Submit a written declaration whereby the applicant undertakes the commitment to use the funds above for the relevant purpose within 3 months from entry into Italy;
  3. In addition to the above, provide documentary evidence of the availability of funds above the minimum threshold set for the healthcare contribution (8.500,00 euro).

The exact procedure applicable to the “investors visa” application is yet to be determined.
It is established that, within 90 days from the entry into force of the new visa provisions (within the end of March, in theory) the Ministries of Economic development, Internal affairs and Foreign Affairs shall issue a joint decree setting the procedure and indicating the authority who will be responsible for processing the application and issuing the clearance that will authorize the consulate to release the visa.

Such authority will operate in connection with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to ascertain the lawful source of funds and the other eligibility requirements. The evaluation process should take about 15 days.
The applicant shall submit the following:

  1. Copy of passport/travel document valid at least 3 months beyond the visa validity
  2. Documents proving 
    1. the availability of the minimum amount set forth for the investment, 
    2. that said funds are readily transferable to Italy; 
  3. Proof of lawful source of funds - the source of funds must be properly and thoroughly supported with documentary evidence;
  4. Written declaration stating the commitment to use the funds for the relevant scope and providing a clear and detailed description of the investment features and its beneficiary.

In case of a favourable decision, the designated authority will send the clearance to the relevant consulate that will issue the “investors visa” (“visto investitori”).

The investors visa holder shall receive a 2 years valid investors residence permit (permesso di soggiorno “per investitori”), renewable for further 3 years (as per the current law provisions after 5 years of legal stay and provided the eligibility requirements are met, a foreign national can apply for permanent residency i.e. EC residence permit for long term residents, valid indefinitely).

The issuance of the permit is subject to the verification that the investment has effectively been completed within 3 months of entry in the country.
The permit can be revoked even before its expiration date, if it is ascertained that the investment has been withdrawn before the 2 years’ term.

The renewal of the permit after the first 2 years of validity is subject to the verification that the funds where duly invested within 3 months of entry and the that the investment is still ongoing at the time of renewal.
Family members of investors visa/permit holders are eligible for a residence permit for family reasons
Specific penalties are foreseen with regards to the proof of the lawful source of funds (art. 648-bis, 648-ter; 648-ter.1 of Penal Code and Art. 12 quinquies L. D. 365/1992 – provisions on money laundering, investment of money of illegal provenance, self- money laundering, smuggling etc.).

Open points:
- Exact procedure for the application is yet to be determined
- It is not clear if the investors visa will allow the holder to undertake work activities in Italy
- Presumably, the investors visa will give access to permanent residence and citizenship

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