The residence permit for family reasons is granted, according to Article 30 of the Legislative Decree number 286/98, known as “Testo Unico Immigrazione” (Consolidated Immigration Law):
a) To foreigners entering Italy with a visa for family reasons, which they obtained after getting official clearance for family reunification, accompanying a family member or reunification with an underage child.
b) To foreigners who have been legally residing in Italy for at least one year who have contracted marriage with an Italian citizen, a European Union citizen, or a legally resident foreigner.
c) To foreigners in possess of a valid residence permit of any kind who are eligible for reunification with a legally resident foreigner. In this case, the existing permit can be converted into a residence permit for family reasons. The conversion can be requested within a year from the expiration date of the residence permit previously granted to the family member.
d) To family members of a refugee, even in the absence of a valid residence permit.
e) To parents of an underage child resident in Italy.
In order to release a residence permit for family reasons, cohabitation is necessary.
What rights does the residence permit for family grant? Is it possible to work?
The residence permit for family reasons has the exact duration of the one in possess of the family member with whom the foreigner citizen is reuniting. Both permits can be renewed together according to Article 30, subsection 3, TUI. The residence permit for family reasons allows:
- Access to welfare services;
- Enrolling in instruction or professional training courses;
- Registration as a jobseeker;
- Employed or self-employed work.
What happens if the family member that allowed the reunification dies? What happens in case of dissolution of marriage?
In the case of death of the family member who allowed the reunification, as well as in the case of legal separation, dissolution of marriage or divorce, the residence permit for family reasons can be converted into a permit for employed or self-employed work, a study permit (Article 30, subsection 5, TUI) or a jobseeking permit, provided that the legal requirements are satisfied.
Therefore, while a separation means that the necessary prerequisite of cohabitation has ceased, the law allows foreigners who are undergoing separation to convert the permit into a different type. The law establishes that in the event of legal separation, divorce or marriage annulment, the residence permit for family reasons can become a permit for employed work, self-employment, or study.
How to convert the residence permit for family reasons
The conversion is not automatic, and it needs to be requested by the foreign citizen. Hence, after the family member's death or after the end of the cohabitation or marriage, it's their responsibility to ask for the modification of their permit for family reasons to a different type of permit.
The request must be presented through the designated “residence permit kit” available at post offices, attaching of all necessary documentation for the desired conversion (e.g. from family reasons permit to employed work permit and/or jobseeking permit).
Lastly, it's helpful to remember that if the marriage was celebrated in Italy, the separation and/or divorce procedure will have to follow Italian law.