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01 October 2021

Family reunification, who is entitled to it and how to apply?

Answers to frequently asked questions 

Family unity is a fundamental right recognized and protected by the Italian legal system and which is also fully recognized for foreigners who wish to reunite with their families. Family reunification is an essential tool for enabling family life, as it contributes to the creation of a socio-cultural stability that facilitates integration in the State, thus promoting economic and social cohesion.

What are the requirements for obtaining a visa for family reunification with a spouse abroad?

In order to obtain an entry visa, it is necessary for the spouse residing legally in Italy to submit an application for a “nulla osta” (authorization) for reunification at the “Sportello Unico” (Unified Immigration Desk), using the specific computerized procedure available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Once the competent Sportello Unico has received the application, it will convene the applicant, by means of a special appointment for the presentation and validation of documentation relating to the availability of accommodation and minimum income requirements. If the applicant is a beneficiary of international protection, he/she does not have to prove possession of the income and accommodation requirements.
Attention: the nulla osta is not necessary for foreign family members of Italian citizens, citizens of the European Union, or of a State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway).

What is the minimum income required to reunify a family member?

Income parameters are updated annually. The required income increases according to the number of family members to be reunited. The necessary income is calculated on the basis of the annual amount of the social allowance increased by half for each family member to be reunited. For example, for 2021 the social allowance is €5,983.64 and to reunite one family member it is necessary to have an income of €8,975.46; to reunite two family members it is necessary to have an income of €11,967.28, and so on.
For the reunification of two or more children under 14 years of age or two or more family members of holders of international protection, it is always necessary to have an income not less than twice the annual social allowance.

For which family members can a foreigner already in Italy request reunification?

It is possible to request reunification for the following family members:
- the spouse who is not legally separated and is not less than 18 years old;
- minor children, including those of the spouse or born outside of marriage, who are not married, provided that the other parent, if any, has given his/her consent. The child must be under 18 years of age at the time the application is submitted;
- dependent children of age if, for objective reasons, they are unable to provide for their own indispensable living needs due to their state of health resulting in total disability;
- dependent parents, if they have no other children in the country of origin or provenance, or parents over 65 years old, if the other children are unable to support them for documented, serious health reasons.
Therefore, family reunification with a brother or sister is not possible.

Family reunification is not allowed if the applicant is already married to another spouse residing in Italy.
The entry for reunification is also allowed to the natural parent of the child regularly residing in Italy with the other parent. In this case, the application for the nulla osta can be submitted on behalf of the minor by the legally residing parent. For the purpose of meeting the income and housing requirements, the possession of these by the other parent is taken into account.
How long does it take to obtain the nulla osta for family reunification?
The nulla osta for family reunification must be issued within 180 days of the request. The nulla osta is transmitted electronically by the Sportello Unico directly to the Consular Offices and must be used, for the purpose of issuing a visa for family reasons, within six months from the date of issue.

What is it and how to apply for an entry visa for accompanying family members?

The entry visa for accompanying family members promotes family cohesion, through the possibility for the family members of a foreigner holding an entry visa for subordinate work related to a contract lasting at least one year, or for non-occasional self-employment, or for study or religious reasons, to enter Italy directly together with their relative. Only family members with whom reunification would be possible in any case and on condition that the requirements regarding the availability of accommodation and income are met may enter together with their family member.
More information: on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, available at, it is possible to consult the different types of visas and the procedures to apply for them.