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November 19, 2020

Recent changes to Italy’s residency by investment programme makes it a far more attractive proposition

In order to attract more foreign investment, the Italian government has implemented changes to its residency by investment (RBI) programme to make it both more attractive and competitive, including slashing some of its minimum investment thresholds by half, and opening it up to third-world country nationals.

The latest amendments to the country’s RBI programme, called the Italian Investor Visa (aka Italy’s Golden Visa programme), follow on from previous amendments made in May, and come in response to the dramatic impact the pandemic has had on the Italian economy.

The changes to the programme, both in May and now, have been made in order to attract and encourage more foreign capital and investments and to compete with countries such as Portugal and Greece whose residency programmes are highly successful and lucrative.

Introduced in 2017 to attract foreign capital and talent, the investor visa programme is aimed at high-net-worth individuals and requires substantial financial investment (minimum investment of €300,000 in real estate and proof of independent income of €100,000). In exchange, investors receive renewable long-term residency and other benefits, from travel to tax.

However, with Italy in desperate need of increased investment in order to combat the effects of the pandemic, the government has this year made a number of amendments to its Investor Visa, making it even more attractive to investors.

Amendments to the investor visa

The most recent amendments, put in place last month, both simplify some of the requirements of the visa and widen the scope of potential applicants.

Included in this is the fact that applicants no longer need to spend a minimum amount of time on Italian soil, in any given year, in order to maintain their immigration status.

Further changes mean that applicants no longer need to sign the integration agreement stating they complete specific linguistic, civic and social commitments during the validity of their residency (they don’t have to demonstrate knowledge of Italian heritage, therefore).

Also, with the aim of opening the programme up to a wider audience, a recent amendment now allows for high-net-worth third-country nationals to apply for the and obtain the visa and residence permit, when previously they were not allowed.

This comes following further amendments in May 2020, when the minimum investment thresholds for some of the Investor Visa options were significantly reduced, with some slashed in half.

While the option offering investment instruments representing joint stock companies operating in Italy halved its minimum investment threshold by 50%, from €1 million to €500,000; the option offering investment in innovative start-ups also halved, from €500000 to €250,000.

Such a price reduction has made Italy’s residency by investment programme one of the most competitive in Europe, challenging similar successful programmes in both Portugal and Greece.

Further investment options, which remain unchanged, include investing €2 million in Government Bonds, or €1 million in philanthropic donations.

Benefits of Italian residency

Once the Investor Visa has been released, the investor can enter Italy and apply for the residency permit allowing them to live and work in the country.

Issued for an initial period of two years, it can be renewed for further periods of three years provided the investment has been fully executed. Following five years of legal residence, the investor can either renew for a further three years or apply for the EU residence permit for long-term residents, allowing them to reside in Italy indefinitely without the need for renewals. After 10 years of residency, you can apply for Italian citizenship.

Benefits include being able to circulate freely in the Schengen Area for 90 days within 180 days as well as advantageous tax breaks.

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