Family reunification

 



 

Family reunification

The first phase of the procedure for the issuance of entry visas: objective requirements.

The second phase of the procedure for the issuance of entry visas: the assessment of subjective requirements.

The outcome of applications.

Entry visas for accompanying family members.

Residence permits for family reasons.

Safeguard of family unity.

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Legal Reference Frame



Family unity is a fundamental right recognised and safeguarded by the Italian legal system, and also applies to foreign nationals that intend to rejoin their family members. In fact, family reunification represents an essential requirement for the positive outcome of the integration process in the social and working lives of foreign nationals in Italy.

Family reunification may be applied by foreign nationals holding a residence permit with a validity of at least one year, or foreign nationals that applied for the renewal of a permit issued for employed or self-employed work, or for asylum, study, religious or family reasons.

Entry visas shall be applied for by foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy by submitting the application for family reunification at the One-Stop Shop for Immigration, by using the online procedure available in the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

 


The first phase of the procedure for the issuance of entry visas: objective requirements


Before issuing the visa,  some requirements shall be assessed.

Foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy shall give evidence of having:

  • a suitable house, endowed with all sanitation requirements and equipped with the housing suitability certificate. This certificate is issued by the Technical Office of the Municipality of Residence or by the relevant LHU. In case the individuals applying for reunification are hosted by third parties, they shall also enclose the statement drafted by the owner of the apartment, according to  form S2, expressing the consent to also host other family member/s.

In case of reunification involving minors aged less than 14, the municipal certificate may also be replaced by a declaration of hospitality by the owner of the apartment in form S1.

Applicants shall submit to the One-Stop Shop for Immigration also a copy of the lease or gratuitous loan or ownership contract, with a duration of at least six months starting from the day on which the application was submitted.

According to the Circular Letter issued by the Ministry of the Interior, the requirements related to housing suitability - in compliance with the EU directive on family reunification - (article 7, par. 1, lett. a), are those contained in the Decree dated 5th July 1975 issued by the Ministry of Health. The latter defines the main housing sanitation requirements as well as the minimum housing surface according to the number of people living in a given house.

In particular, houses shall comply with the following requirements:

Surface per inhabitant:

1 inhabitant

14 sq.m

2 inhabitants

28 sq.m

3 inhabitants

42 sq.m

4 inhabitants

56 sq.m

For every additional inhabitant

+ 10 sq.m

Room composition:

Bedroom for 1 person

9 sq.m

Bedroom for 2 persons

14 Bedroom for 1 person

+ living room of 14 sq.m

One-room accommodation:

1 person

28 sq.m (including bathroom)

2 persons

38 sq.m (including bathroom)

Minimum height:

2.70 metres

 

Derogation up to 2.55 metres for mountainous municipalities

 

Derogation up to 2.40 metres for corridors, bathrooms, accesses and and cupboards

Aeration:

Living room and kitchen with opening window

 

Bathroom that, when not endowed with windows, shall have a mechanical aspiration system

Heating system:

Whenever local climate conditions make it necessary.

 

See MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, Circular Letter of 18th November 2009, n. 7170.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH, Ministerial Decree of July 5, 1975 containing the modifications to the Ministerial instructions of June 20, 1896, with respect to the minimum height and the main sanitation requirements existing in the accommodation, in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic n. 190 of July 18, 1975.


Foreign nationals applying for family reunification shall also show the availability of a minimum annual income deriving from legal sources and not lower than the annual amount of the social allowance for each family member intending to be reunified. This income parameter is updated every year. The necessary income increases according to the number of family members that intend to be reunified.

For example, in 2014, applicants regularly residing in Italy that intend to be reunited with a spouse and a son older than 14 years shall have an income equal to € 11,637.86 (namely € 5,818.93 + 2,909.46 + 2,909.46).


The documents to be submitted to prove income availability vary according to the type of applicant’s employment:

Employees will have to present the latest tax return, a copy of the employment contract, the last pay check or certified photocopy of payroll, a self-certification of the employer according to form S3 showing the employment relationship. In case the employment relationship started less than one year before, the self-certification of the employer shall contain an indication of the presumed income of the employee.

Domestic workers shall submit the final income tax return, if any, or eventually the communication of recruitment to the Employment Centre or to INPS, the receipt showing the payment of social security contributions relating to the quarter preceding the date of submission of the application, a self-certification by the employer, according to form S2, showing the existence of the employment relation.

Self-employed workers shall produce the necessary supporting documentation based on the category they belong to. If workers operate as sole proprietorship a certificate of registration in the Chamber of Commerce shall be produced, besides a photocopy of the document indicating the VAT number, a photocopy of the municipal license (if applicable), the income tax return (Unico) equipped with the submission receipt in case the business was started more than one year before, or, in case of a business started less than one year before, a report made by an accountant relating to the entire period of activity.

In case the worker operates as a company it is necessary to produce a certificate of incorporation of the company, a photocopy of the VAT number assigned to the company the income tax return (Unico) equipped with the submission receipt in case the business was started more than one year before, or, in case of a business started less than one year before, a report made by an accountant relating to the entire period of activity.

In case of project-based collaboration a photocopy shall be submitted of the collaboration contract indicating the duration of the employment and the related remuneration, a statement of the client showing the validity of the project-based contract, a declaration of registration to INPS, besides a photocopy of the income tax return (Unico).

If a foreign national regularly residing in Italy is a working member a chamber of commerce certificate shall be produced, in addition to a photocopy of the VAT number, a statement by the Chairman of the cooperative showing the current employment relationship, a photocopy of the Register of Shareholders, and a copy of the Income Tax Return (Unico).

Finally, if the worker regularly residing in Italy is a professional , the certificate of registration in the roll shall be produced, in addition to the Income Tax Return equipped with the relevant receipt.


In case of reunification of two or more sons aged less than 14 or two or more family members holding the status of subsidiary protection, an income not lower than the double of the annual amount of social allowance will be needed.

In order to determine the total income, the overall income of family members living with the applicant shall be calculated.

It is not necessary to show the ownership of requirements as suitable housing and income in case of asylum seekers and refugees.


The second phase of the procedure for the issuance of the entry visa: the assessment of subjective requirements


Foreign nationals in Italy may apply for the reunification of some family members abroad, including:

  • The spouse aged at least 18 and with which no legal separation is in place.
  • The children that at the moment of the application for reunification are under 18 years of age, including those of the spouse or born from another partner, provided that they are not married and that the other parent (if any) has given one’s consent. Minor children adopted or fostered or subject to guardianship shall be considered as sons.
  • Adult children who are dependents on the foreign national living in Italy in case they, for objective reasons, are not able to meet their basic needs for serious health problems entailing total disability.
  • Parents who are dependents on the foreign national living in Italy or parents aged over 65, in case there are no other sons able to support them in their country of origin, or if other children are not able to support them for serious and documented health problems.

In case of parents aged over 65, a health insurance is also needed, while awaiting for a ministerial decree to define the amount of the contribution for the voluntary registration in the National Health Service (undergoing fine-tuning).

See MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR, Circular Letter of 17th February 2009, no. 737.

Access the News on the registration in the NHS of over 65 non-EU migrant parents

  • The entry for family reunification is also allowed to the natural parent of minors regularly residing in Italy with the other parent. The application may be submitted on behalf of the minor by the regularly residing parent. As to the requirements in terms of income and housing, the condition of the regularly residing parent is considered.

Foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy cannot apply for family reunification if already married with another spouse residing in Italy.

At the end of the first phase the One-Stop Shop for immigration issues an authorisation for family reunification within 180 days as from the submission of the application. An appeal may be lodged to the Ordinary Court of the city of residence of the applicant regularly residing in Italy against the denial to grant the authorisation.

The authorisation is electronically sent directly to the Italian Consular Offices of the Country of origin or of residence of the family member still living abroad, by opening the second phase of the procedure, namely the assessment of the subjective requirements for the issuance of the entry visa.

The family members for which the authorisation was requested shall submit to the consular offices, together with the application for the issuance of the entry visa, the certificate stating the family relationship (marriage, minor age, as well as any necessary civil status certificate) duly translated and legalised by the consular authority. The legalisation is not necessary in case bilateral or international agreements exist on the abolition of legalisation of foreign public documents according to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (The Hague, 1961)

In the absence of a suitable certificate, the diplomatic representation at the Country of origin of family members issues the documents above on the basis of the necessary assessments, including the examination of the DNA, at the expenses of the parties concerned.

 

The outcome of the application.

Once received the application, the One-Stop Shop for immigration waits for the opinion of the Police Headquarters in charge of assessing the eventual presence of reasons preventing foreign family members to enter the Italian territory. As the positive opinion of the Police Headquarters is received, the One-Stop Shop sends to the applicant the letter of summoning to produce the documents on the income and accommodation, besides any other document deemed necessary.

The visa for family reunification is either issued or denied within 30 days as from the application.

In case the applicant enjoys the status of refugee the rejection of the application cannot be exclusively due to the lack of documents showing the existence of family bonds or the ownership of the other requirements by family members.

Within 48 hours as from the entry to Italy by the family member having obtained the visa for family reunification, the family member regularly residing in Italy shall submit the written declaration of supply of building to the police authorities.

 

Entry visas for accompanying family members

In case the family member intends to enter Italy along with the foreign national holding the residence permit or an entry visa for employed work related to a contract with a duration of at least one year, or for self-employed work, or for study or religious reasons, it is possible to apply for an entry visa for accompanying family members on the same conditions for which it is possible to apply for family reunification, provided that the requirements of kinship and availability of housing and income apply.

The procedure for the issuance of the authorisation is the same as the issuance for family reunification. The application shall be sent electronically to the One-Stop Shop for Immigration by using the form T, through the computerised procedure available in the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Only in this case the foreign national holding the residence permit that submits an application while still abroad may avail oneself of a special proxy in Italy for the submission of the application and of the relevant documentation. Therefore, when convened to the One Stop Shop for submitting the documentation, foreign nationals shall also have:

  • A photocopy of an identity document of the proxy appointed
  • Delegation in favour of an Italian or foreign national living in Italy for the purpose of submitting the application for authorisation for accompanying family members, drafted by the foreign national that already has a visa, translated and legalized by the diplomatic representation of the Italian Consulate in the country origin or residence of the applicant.

 

Residence permit for family reasons.

The residence permit for family reasons is issued

  • To the foreign national that entered Italy with an entry visa for family reunification, or with visa travelling with relative, or an entry visa for the purpose of reunification with minor children
  • To foreign nationals legally residing for at least one year who have married in the territory of the Italian State with Italian nationals or with nationals of one of the Member States of the European Union, or with legally residing foreign nationals
  • To the foreign family member regularly residing in Italy, owning the requirements for obtaining the reunification with an Italian citizen or the citizen of a Member State of the European Union residing in Italy, or with foreign nationals regularly residing in Italy. In this case the permit of the family member is converted into a residence permit for family reasons. Such conversion may be applied for within one year as from the date of expiration of the residence permit originally owned by the family member.

In case of a refugee it is not necessary to own a valid residence permit by the family member.

  • To foreign parents, including natural ones, of an Italian minor residing in Italy, provided that such minor was not deprived of the parental responsibility according to the Italian law.

For the purpose of assessing the necessary requirements for the eligibility to the residence permit for family reasons, it is necessary to show the existence of a real cohabitation following marriage. The non-cohabitation entails the revocation of the residence permit for family reasons, unless the two spouses had children after their marriage.

The ownership of a residence permit for family reasons allows access to social services, enrolment to educational courses or vocational training, registration as unemployed, the performance of employed or self-employed work within the age limits under Italian Law.

The residence permit for family reasons is used for a duration equal to the residence permit of the foreign family member that applied for family reunification.

The entitlement to the residence permit for family reasons comes to an end in case of death of the family member owning the requirements for family reunification and in case of legal separation or of dissolution of marriage.

Minors under 14 years of age are registered in the residence permit of their parent. When turning 14, minors are issued a permit valid until 18 years of age. In case of sons not able to obtain the residence permit for long-term residents, the entitlement to the residence permit for family reasons ends when turning 18, although it may be converted into residence permit for employed and self-employed work, or for study reasons.

 

Safeguard of family unity

An appeal may be lodged to the Ordinary Court of the city of residence of the applicant regularly residing in Italy against the denial to grant the residence permit for family reasons, as well as against other measures by the administrative authority in the field of right to family unity.

Furthermore, a strengthened protection is available against the departure from the territory of the State by the foreign national that exercised one’s right to family reunification. Such strengthened protection imposes to the administration, before adopting a measure of rejection to issue, revocation or denial of the renewal of the residence permit, to concretely evaluate the personal situation of the interested person, by taking into account both his/her dangerousness for security and public order, and the duration of his/her stay as well as his/her family and social bonds.

 

Legal Framework

Legislative Decree 150/2011

Article 20: the opposition to the denial to issue an authorisation for family reunification and the residence permit for family reasons, as well as other measures by the administrative authority regarding the right to family unity.

Legislative Decree 286/1998 Consolidated Law on the provisions governing immigration and the status of foreign nationals

·        Article 4 , paragraph 3 , on the provisions relating to foreign nationals representing in Italy a real and current threat to public order or state security.

·        Article 5, paragraph 5, on the reinforced protection against the expulsion of foreign nationals who exercised their right to family reunification.

·        Article 7 obligations of the host .

 

·        Article 28 , right to family unity .

 

·        Article 29 , family reunification .

 

·        Article 29bis , family reunification of refugees .

 

·        Article 30 , residence permit for family reasons.

 

·        Articles 31-33, provisions relating to minors.

MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR , Circular Letter no. 7170 of 18th November 2009.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH , Ministerial Decree of 5th July, 1975 containing the amendments to the Ministerial provisions of 20th June, 1896 , with respect to the minimum height and the sanitation requirements of the main housing premises, in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic no. 190 of 18th July 1975.​