The regulatory framework in force outlines the possibility for non-EU nationals to access the Italian labour market:
- either from abroad, in the framework of the entry quotas annually defined through the flows decrees adopted by the Government (exception made for some particular entry cases outside of quotas);
- or directly in Italy if owning a regular residence permit as well as specific requirements provided for by the law.
1. Employment of non-eu workers already regularly present in Italy
    Residence permits allowing the performance of working activities
2. Employment of non-eu workers resident abroad:
    - In the framework of the planning of entry flows
    a) Flows Decree for the employment of non-seasonal workers
    b) Il decreto flussi per l'assunzione dei lavoratori stagionali
   - particular cases of entrance not provided for in the flow decree
 3. Rights of foreign workers
 4. Sanctions for the employment of illegal foreigners

In order to work in Italy, non-EU foreign citizens shall own the residence permit issued on the grounds of one of the eligibility criteria listed in this Sheet
For more information on the requirements applying to the issuance of any single type of residence certificate, please refer to the Consolidated Law on Immigration, Legislative Decree no. 286 of 28th July 1998, and to the regulation adopted through Presidential Decree no. 394 of 31st August 1999. For additional reference, please read also the Handbook for integration in Italy, “Immigration how, where, when” (Original title “Immigrazione come, dove, quando. Manuale per l’integrazione”, 2011 edition).
The employment of non-EU workers residing abroad by an Italian employer or by a foreign employer regularly residing in Italy may take place:
- In the framework of the entry quotas defined by the decrees planning the entry flows for employed work, including seasonal work. Within such decrees, specific quotas are assigned to non-EU foreign nationals resident abroad who completed their educational and training programmes in their Countries of origin as per Art. 23 of the Consolidated Law on immigration. Specific quotas are also set aside for self-employed workers and to convert into work permits any residence permit issued for other purposes.
- Outside of quotas for some particular professional profiles
Employment of non-eu workers resident abroad in the framework of the planning of entry flows
Entering the Italian national territory for employed work (including seasonal) and self-employed work is possible – exception made for some professional profiles for which the entry outside of quotas is allowed – only in the framework of the maximum entry quotas annually set by the decrees planning the entry flows for work reasons.
These are the decrees adopted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on an annual basis, and that take into consideration the need for non-EU labour force determined following a consultation involving the Ministries involved, the Regional Governments, trading associations and the main union organisations. The maximum entry quotas determined by the flows decrees is subsequently distributed at regional level through Circular Letters of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
The submission by an employer – either Italian or foreigner regularly residing in Italy – of the application for an employment permit involving non-EU nationals represents the point of start of the entire procedure.
In order to obtain an entry visa for employed-work, in fact, workers shall own the work permit issued by the One-Stop Shop for immigration.
The work permit application may only be filed after the publication in the Official Journal of the Republic of Italy of the annual decree on entry flows, according to the procedures provided for in the ministerial circular letters adopted in due time before the date set for the submission of applications.
The One-Stop Shop issues the permit provided that the employment application submitted by the employer:
- falls within the quota annually set by the flows decree;
- that no Italian or EU or non-EU worker registered in unemployment lists or censed as unemployed is available to accept that specific employment (also in case of availability, the employer has the power to confirm his/her request)
- that no impedimental reasons exist by the Police Headquarters.
In general, different flows decrees are adopted for the employment of seasonal or non-seasonal workers.

Flows Decree for the employment of non-seasonal workers
YEAR 2012
The Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers dated 16th October 2012 (Official Journal no. 273 of 22nd November 2012), set – differently from the past - entry quotas for self-employed work only (2,000 quotas) and for workers of Italian origin resident in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Brazil (100 quotas). The remaining quotas (11,750) are then destined to those who intend to convert into a residence permit for work reasons a residence permit owned for other purposes (or a residence permit issued for study reasons or seasonal work, or an EC residence permit for long-term residents issued by another EU Member State (and not by Italy).
The 13,850 entry quotas set by the Decree are divided as follows:
 -   2,000 entry quotas for self-employed workers, or foreign nationals resident abroad and belonging to the following categories: entrepreneurs performing activities of interest for the Italian economy; professionals performing either supervised professions or non-regulated professions however included in the registers managed by the Public Administration; corporate figures of non-cooperative companies, expressly provided for by the regulations in force on entry visas (Inter-ministerial Decree of 11th May 2011); artists of clear international renown or with high professional qualifications, hired by either public or private authorities;
 -   100 entry quotas destined to non-seasonal employed workers and to self-employed workers of Italian origin from at least one of the two parents up to the third degree of direct kinship, resident in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Brazil;
 -   11,750 entry quotas destined to those who found a job and have to modify their residence permit, or to convert their already owned residence permit into another one. In particular, in this framework, the Decree divides the quotas as follows:
4,000 quotas
Reserved to those who have a seasonal work residence permit to be converted into a non-seasonal employed work permit;
   6,000 quotas
Reserved to those who have a residence permit for study, apprenticeship and/or vocational training purposes, to be converted into a non-seasonal employed work permit;
  1,000 quotas
Reserved to those who have a residence permit for study, apprenticeship and/or vocational training purposes, to be converted into a self-employed work permit;
   500 quotas
Reserved to those who have an EC residence permit for long-term residents issued by a EU Member State other than Italy, to be converted into an employed work permit;
 250 quotas
Reserved to those who have an EC residence permit for long-term residents issued by a EU Member State other than Italy, to be converted into a self-employed work permit.
Applications may be exclusively filed electronically through the website of the Ministry of the Interior from 7th December 2012 to 30th June 2013.
As clarified by the Joint Circular Letter of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy dated 26th November 2012, the procedures for user registration, filling-in of forms and sending of applications are the same as those used in the website of the Ministry of the Interior.  In particular:
 - Form VA for the conversion of residence permits for study, apprenticeship and/or vocational training purposes into employed work permits
 - Form Z for the conversion of residence permits for study, apprenticeship and/or vocational training purposes into self-employed work permits
 - Form VB for the conversion of seasonal work residence permits into employed-work permits
 - Form LS  for the application for employed work residence permits destined to foreigners owning a long-term residents EC residence permit issued by a EU Member State other than Italy;
 - Form LS1 for the application for domestic work destined to foreigners owning a long-term residents EC residence permit issued by a EU Member State other than Italy;
 - Form LS2 for the application to assess the existence of a quota for self-employed work and of certificate witnessing the ownership of the self-employed work for foreigners owning a long-term residents EC residence permit issued by a EU Member State other than Italy;
 - Forms A-DOM and B-SUB for workers of Italian origin residing in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Brazil.
Applications are processed according to their chronological order of submission.  
As to the procedure following the submission of applications, the joint Circular Letter clarified that in case of applications for conversion, at the moment of convocation to the One-Stop Shop workers shall produce the draft residence contract signed by the employer, valid as the employer’s commitment. The Form Q received with the convocation letter shall be used to this end. Subsequently, the employer shall perform the compulsory employment notification according to the regulations in force. 
-      Decree of the President of the Council of Minister dated 16th October 2012 – Entry quotas for self-employed work and conversions
Previous years
The last general flows decree adopted for the employment of non-seasonal workers from abroad dates back to 2010. The Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of 30th November 2010 envisaged the entry in Italy of non-seasonal foreign workers within a maximum quota of 98,080 units. Against these quotas, the applications submitted amounted to 430,258, over 70% of which relating to domestic work.
The Regions receiving the highest number of applications included Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Veneto and Lazio. At a provincial level, the highest number of applications was filed in Milan 56,897, followed by Rome 31,860, Brescia 23,653, Bologna 14,184 and Naples 13,969.
An analysis of data is also available in the
Second annual report on the labour market

Flows Decree for the employment of seasonal workers
The entry to Italy of non-EU workers for seasonal work purposes is possible only within the quotas annually set by the decree on the planning of seasonal work entry flows.
The sectors in which seasonal employment is possible include the agricultural and the tourist-hotel sectors. It shall be one of the sectors envisaged in the application forms published in the website of the Ministry of the Interior.
Seasonal workers may also be employed with a part-time contract, provided that the average weekly working hours amount to at least 20. Workers shall receive a pre-tax monthly wage not lower than the one provided for by the National Collective Labour Agreement.
YEAR 2013
The Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers dated 15th February 2013 (published in the Official Journal no. 71 of 25th March 2013), provided for a maximum quota of 30,000 admissions in 2013 for seasonal work purposes.
According to the Flows Decree, employment applications may include foreign workers resident abroad in the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Republic of Philippines, Gambia, Ghana, India, Kosovo, FYROM, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldavia, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Tunisia.
Therefore, only foreigners coming from the Countries above may enter Italy to perform seasonal jobs. The only exception applies to those who, although not coming from these Countries, already entered Italy to perform seasonal jobs in 2012.
Applications may be filed from 8.00 a.m. of 26th March 2013 to 00.00 of 31st December 2013.
The employment application may be filed by either an Italian employer or a foreign employer regularly residing in Italy, and it shall be destined to a worker resident abroad in one of the Countries provided for by the Flows Decrees.
The entry procedures for seasonal work follow, in general, those provided for in the case of non-seasonal fixed-term and open-ended employment, with some differences introduced to streamline the establishment of these employment relations.
Employment applications may be electronically sent either by employers or by trading associations on behalf of their members.
The applications, filled-in by employers through Form C-stag, shall be electronically sent to the Immigration One Stop Shop through the website
The trading associations signing the agreements with the Ministries of the Interior and of Labour may send the applications on behalf of the employers joining the relevant associations. The Joint Circular Letter of the Ministry of the Interior-Ministry of Labour dated 19th March 2013 contains a series of clarifications on the related procedure.
The entry permit is issued by the Immigration One-Stop Shop within 20 days as from the date in which the application was filed.
Starting from 2012, a new tacit approval procedure is in force, according to which whenever the One-Stop Shop, after twenty days, does not sent its rejection for the application, the latter shall be considered as accepted if the following conditions apply:
the application concerns a foreigner already authorised in the previous year to perform a seasonal work for the same applicant employer;
 - the seasonal worker was regularly employed in the previous year and decided to repatriate on the date of permit expiration.
However, in order to avail oneself of such streamlined procedure, the employer shall specify within the Form C-stag the data - relating to the previous year – of the compulsory notification  referred to the hiring of such employee and the data of the worker’s residence permit.
The seasonal work permit has a minimum validity of 20 days and a maximum term of 9 months as from the date of signing of the residence contract. During such period of time, it is possible to change one’s employer, provided that the employment relationship continues to fall within seasonal work
Foreigners showing they entered Italy for at least 2 consecutive years to work as seasonal workers may receive a three-year residence permit, always for seasonal work purposes. The duration of every year is the same as the last of the two previous years. To accept the application for a multi-year work permit, the previous two seasonal employments shall not necessarily immediately precede the filing of the application.
Employers shall apply the Immigration One Stop Shop for the issuance of the multi-year work permit by using the suitable form
In the framework of the quota amounting to 30,000 units, 5,000 admissions are destined to the citizens from the countries mentioned above who already entered Italy to work as seasonal workers for at least two consecutive years, and for which the employer submits an application for a multi-year seasonal work permit.
The application may also be filed by an employer other than the one of the previous two years.
The One Stop Shop, after ascertaining that the requirements are met, issues the three-year permit, bearing the annual period of validity.
One of the main advantages of the multi-year permit is to allow seasonal workers to enter Italy in the subsequent year, irrespective of the publication of the seasonal work Flows Decree.
The employment application in case of multi-year seasonal permit for the years following the first one may also be filed by an employer other than the employer that obtained the three-year seasonal work permit.

Foreign workers authorised for the second time to enter Italy for seasonal work purposes may convert the seasonal work residence permit into another one for employed work – either fixed-term or open ended work -,in the framework of the quotas available (for 2013 the Decree of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of 16th October 2012, determined 4,000 quotas destined to such conversions).
It is necessary that the seasonal work residence permit is valid on the day of filing of the application.
Foreign workers shall send to the Immigration One Stop Shop the application for the conversion of the seasonal work residence permit into employed work residence permit exclusively through the website
In case of availability of quotas, foreigners are summoned to the One Stop Shop to sign the residence contract and the form applying for the employed work residence permit.

Particular cases of entrance not provided for in the flow decree
Within the regulations of the Immigration Consolidation Act (Legislative Decree no. 286/98) regarding the entrance and stay in Italy of foreign nationals for work purposes, art. 27 et seq. contain a list of classes of workers for which a work permit is not necessary or – whenever requested – is be issued outside of the entry quotas periodically set by the Flow Decree.
The so called “entries outside of quotas” – that is to say entries for work reasons allowed during the entire year, for which no threshold exists (exception made for entries for traineeships, professional and non professional sports activities and for voluntary work) – and provide for a simplified procedure for the issuance of work permits.
Furthermore, in some cases (seconded managers, university professors, skilled workers seconded in Italy, maritime workers, trainees and journalists) the work permit procedure is entirely by-passed, and an application for entry visa can be filed – either directly or upon communication to the Immigration One-Stop Shop – to the Italian Consulates or Embassies abroad.
In particular, the categories of workers that can resort to said streamlined procedures include:
Highly skilled workers – EU Blue Card (art. 27 quater)
Managers or highly qualified personnel seconded in Italy (art. 27, lett. A);
University Professors in charge of an academic assignment in Italy (art. 27, lett. C)
Translators and interpreters (art. 27, lett. D)
Domestic help in specific cases (art. 27, lett. E)
Trainees and workers seconded for professional training (art. 27, lett. F)
Skilled workers seconded in Italy (art. 27, lett. G)
Maritime workers (art. 27, lett. H)
Employees transferred due to contract work (art. 27, lett. I)
Workers employed in circuses or travelling shows abroad; artists and technicians working in lyrical dramas, theatres, ballets and concerts; dancers, artists and musicians employed in entertainment facilities, theatres, radio or TV channels, within cultural or folk events (art. 27, lett. L-M-N-O)
Professional athletes (art. 27, lett. P)
Journalists (art. 27, lett. Q)
Foreign workers that, according to international agreements in force in Italy, carry out researches or occasional work in the framework of exchange or youth mobility programs or placed au pair, (art. 27, lett. R)
Professional nurses (art. 27, lett. R-bis)
International volunteers (art. 27 bis)
Researchers (art. 27 ter)
Teachers/ professors in foreign schools or universities operating in Italy (law n. 103/2002)
For more information about procedures Consult the document in PDF

All foreign workers regularly residing in Italy are entitled to the same treatment and enjoy the same rights as Italian workers.
In compliance with Art. 5, Paragraph 9 bis of the Consolidated Text on Immigration (Legislative Decree no. 286/98), while pending the issuance or the renewal of the new residence permit, workers may perform working activities with full social security rights, provided that:
- an application for residence permit was filed to the One-Stop Shop within 8 days as from their entry to Italy or, in the case of renewal, the application was filed before the date of expiration of the residence permit;
- signed the residence contract
- own the receipt witnessing the application for the issuance or renewal of the residence permit, issued by the relevant office.
In general, the owners of a residence permit for employed work:
- are mandatorily registered in the National Health Service;
- may access residential housing and intermediation services to avail themselves of first house soft loans, on the same conditions as Italian citizens if owning a residence permit with a validity of at least two years and are committed in regular employed or self-employed working activities (art. 40, comma 6 del T.U.);
- may access educational courses on the same grounds as Italian citizens (subject to the recognition of education titles for the purpose of continuing education) as well as training and professional requalification courses;
- may apply for family reunification and the access of accompanying family members if owning a residence permit with a validity exceeding one year.
- may perform employed work other than originally authorised (art. 6, par. 1 Consolidated Law). In such case the parties shall sign a new residence contract for work purposes;
- may perform self-employed work, upon acquiring of the relevant permit or authorisation, and meeting the other necessary requirements with corresponding conversion of the expiring residence permit;
- may access aid society services (art. 22, par. 14, Consolidated Law)
- in case of dismissals or resignation (that employers shall notify within 5 days to the One-Stop Shop and to the Employment Centre) are entitled to be included in the mobility lists (and to receive the related allowance) or in the registry lists held by the employment centres for the period of the remaining validity of the residence permit and, in any case, unless holding a residence permit for seasonal work, for a period not lower than one year, or for the entire period of the income support benefit (unemployment benefit, i.e. mobility allowance) received by foreign workers, if higher.
For more information about foreign workers rights click here
Legislative Decree no. 109 of 16th July 2012 transposed the European Commission Directive 2009/52/EC aimed to strengthen the cooperation between Member States in fighting against illegal immigration, introducing the prohibition for employers to hire citizens from third Countries irregularly residing in the Country of Destination, as well as minimum rules relating to sanctions and measures against said employers.
Having considered that such ban is already provided for by Italian regulations (Art. 22, Paragraph 12 of the Consolidated Law on immigration states that the employment of illegal foreign workers is sanctioned with an imprisonment from six months to three years, and with a fine of 5,000 Euros per worker employed), the new Decree only introduced some amendments to the already existing regulations.
The new provisions envisaged aggravating circumstances (with sanctions increased by one third to a half) in those cases in which the ban to employ illegal foreign nationals is characterised by a situation of “particular exploitation”, namely:
-  more than three workers are employed irregularly;
-  minors in non-working age are employed;
-  the exploitation provisions under article 603 of the criminal code apply.

Furthermore, in addition to the sanctions already provided for by the regulations in force, an ancillary administrative sanction is introduced, which judges enforce when issuing a conviction, entailing the payment of an amount equal to the average cost of the repatriation of the illegal worker (the criteria for the determination of such cost will be defined through a subsequent interministerial decree). 
Sanctions introduced for corporations
In case the circumstances of “particular exploitation” apply, the new measure - in the framework of Legislative Decree 231 of 2001 - also introduces a fine (from 100 to 200 quotas, within the ceiling of 150,000 Euros) for corporations that derived an advantage from the illegal employment of foreign nationals.
No permits granted to employers convicted for illegal employment of foreign workers or for labour exploitation
The new rules also introduce an impediment to obtain the permit for the entry of foreign workers by employers who were sentenced in the five previous years for offences related to labour exploitation or the illegal employment of foreign nationals and to the aiding and abetting of illegal immigration.
Temporary residence permits for workers reporting severe labour exploitation
In order to favour the regularisation of illegal workers, only in case of particular labour exploitation, foreigners reporting such illegal work or cooperating in the criminal proceedings against the employer may obtain – upon proposal or with the positive opinion of the judge – a residence permit for humanitarian reasons; such permit is valid for six months and may be renewed for one year or for the entire time needed to settle the criminal proceedings.
The residence permit for humanitarian reasons allows to perform a working activity.
Temporary provisions to allow the regularisation of illegally employed workers
The new measure also contains a temporary provision aimed to regularise illegal work.
According to the new provision, in fact, the employers who had been illegally employing foreign workers on the date of the coming into force of the decree (9th August 2012) for at least three months (uninterruptedly and evidence of which was available as from 31st December 2011 or earlier), could report the existence of such labour relation to the One-Stop shop for immigration within 15th October 2012.
The decree provided for the opportunity of regularising only full-time work relationships, exception made for domestic work where part-time work could be regularised, provided that no lower than 20 weekly hours.
Additional details on the regularisation procedure are available in the Regularisation Focus 2012