HomeSearch NewsResidence permit for scientific research: how to get one and what does it grant

21 October 2022

Residence permit for scientific research: how to get one and what does it grant

Answers to the frequently asked questions


Foreign citizens who attained a higher education qualification, such as one which grants them access to PhD programs (in the country where they studied) are allowed to enter Italy and stay for more than three months for the purpose of scientific research. Foreign researchers are not included in the entry quotas determined annually via the “Decreto Flussi”.

What procedure should a foreign citizen follow to work in Italy as a researcher?

The University or Research Institute where the researcher will work must submit an online application for clearance to work to the Ministry of Interior. In order to do so, they have to be part of the list of institutes authorized by the Ministry of Education. The Unified Desk for Immigration issues the authorization to enter once it verifies with the police the absence of impedimental reasons and the completeness of the documents.  This procedure can only be started after the stipulation of an agreement between the Research Institute and the researcher. The Institute agrees to welcome the researcher and to provide a series of services, while the researcher agrees to carry out a research project approved by the Institute. The agreement, among other things, establishes: - The legal relationship between the parties; - The working conditions of the researcher and the resources he can get access to (not less than double the amount of the social allowance); - Coverage of travel expenses; - The stipulation of a health insurance for the researcher and his family members (alternatively, they can be enrolled in the national health system).

The aforementioned agreement is automatically declared null and void should the authorization be denied. If the verifications have a positive outcome, the Unified Desk issues the authorization within 30 days of the application, and sends it digitally to the diplomatic consular representation abroad in order to issue the entry visa, which has to be requested within six months from the release of the clearance. The issue of this visa has priority towards other types of visa. Pay attention: Should the researcher operate in the field of health care professions, their qualification has to be verified by the Ministry of Health before any visa can be issued. If they don’t have to carry out health-related activities, the legal manager of the health facility where the research will take place must issue a specific declaration to the diplomatic-consular office.

What should the researcher do once they enter Italy with a research visa?

The foreign citizen who enters Italy with an entry visa for scientific research must request the issuing of a residence permit within 8 working days of entry. The residence permit for scientific research reasons is issued digitally, and is to be requested through a special postal kit available at the post offices which are part of the network “Poste Italiane Friend's Desk”. After the kit is sent, he will receive:

  • A receipt that certifies the presentation of a residence permit application and allows them to consult its status;
  • An appointment at the Immigration Office of a Police Headquarters where they will deliver the original documentation (a copy has to be attached to the postal kit) and undergo photodactyloscopic detection (fingerprints will be taken).

If they enter for employed work purposes, the researcher must request the permit directly at the Unified Desk for Immigration of the Prefecture where they will be living, which he must anyway visit within 8 days of entering Italy to sign the residence contract and compile a residence permit request.

Can research be carried out in the form of self-employment?

A scientific research visa can be issued to beneficiaries of research grants and postdoctoral scholarships. It can’t be requested by those who enter Italy to obtain a specialization school diploma, PhD, university master's degree or a specialization course, even should they carry out research.

Can a foreigner already residing in Italy apply for a residence permit for scientific research?

Yes, unless they are staying in Italy with a permit for asylum (or asylum request), for temporary protection, for special cases, medical treatment or work, or if they have received an expulsion order (even if suspended).

Is it possible to start carrying out the research activity while the residence permit for research is being issued?

Yes, the researcher can start carrying out the research activity even before he is granted a residence permit.

What does the residence permit for scientific research entitles to?

The residence permit for scientific research allows one individual to carry out research work in the form of employment, self-employment or research training scholarship. The holder of this permit may also, on equal terms with the Italian citizen, carry out teaching activities connected with the research program and compatible with the statutory and regulatory provisions of the Institute. The holder of a residence permit for scientific research is granted the right to family reunification under ordinary conditions, but regardless of the duration of the permit. To exercise this right, the applicant must prove a minimum annual income not lower than the amount of the social allowance. However, they are exempt for proving the availability of an accommodation that complies with hygiene and health requirements. Family members who accompany the foreign researcher or are reunited with them will be entitled to the issue of a residence permit for family reasons lasting as much as that of the researcher's residence permit. Holders of a residence permit for research that lasts for more than 6 months are entitled to family benefits under the same conditions as Italian citizens.

What is the duration of the residence permit issued for scientific research?

Usually, it’s valid for the whole duration of the research program. In case of an extension, the residence permit is renewed for a duration equal to the extension upon presentation of the renewal of the agreement with the research institute. If the researcher enters Italy through specific Union or multilateral programs, the residence permit refers to the programs.

Can the residence permit for research be converted into another residence permit?

The foreign researcher, after completing the research activity, can also declare their immediate availability to carry out work (D.I.D.) and their interest in employment measures at the Employment Center in their residence or domicile municipality. The residence permit for scientific research will then be converted into a residence permit for “expected occupation”, with a minimum duration of nine months and a maximum of twelve, useful for finding a job or starting their own business activity consistent with the research work done.

Is it possible to continue the research activity in Italy for those who have a residence permit for research issued by another member state of the European Union?

Yes, the foreign researcher holding a valid residence permit for research reasons, issued by a Member State of the European Union, can enter the national territory in order to continue a research activity already started in the other Member State. If this is the case, their stay cannot exceed one hundred and eighty days over a period of three hundred and sixty days, and the entry visa or the issue of the residence permit are not required. The authorization to enter is replaced by a communication by the Research Institute to the Unified Desk for Immigration of the Prefecture of the province where the research activity will take place, made within eight days of the researcher’s entry into Italy. Such communication, along with the passport details of the researcher and any other family member, should include:

  • A copy of the agreement signed for undertaking research in a different EU Member State;
  • A copy of the residence authorization (for the researcher and his family members) they obtained there;
  • Proof of sufficient wealth for self-sustenance;
  • Health insurance policy valid for the period of stay on the national territory;
  • Declaration of the Italian Institute where the activity will take place.

If they intend to stay more than than one hundred and eighty days, a residence permit bearing the words “mobility-researcher” is expected to be issued. In this case, entry is subject to the release of the clearance by the Unified Desk for Immigration. Pending the release of the authorization or the delivery of the residence permit, the researcher is authorized to carry out the research activity provided that the authorization issued by the original Member State is valid.