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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my wife and I just got back to America from our 3rd major trip to Europe and we are convinced that we want to reside in Italy for the foreseeable future. We love the culture, the language, the history, and the location that would give us ample opportunities to visit other European countries.

We have so many questions to ask. We have come up with the idea that ideally we would like to own and run a bed & breakfast. But we think that may be a major hurdle to overcome all at once since we don't know any of the tax laws, restrictions, visas, citizenship requirements, nor are we even close to knowing the language.

We have considered trying to find employment, then try to open a business etc, but again more questions.

I have 14 years of IT experience and my wife has taught school for 10 years. We don't know if those skills are in demand or not.

If anyone has any initial advice or questions for us, it would all be appreciated.
 

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So my wife and I just got back to America from our 3rd major trip to Europe and we are convinced that we want to reside in Italy for the foreseeable future. We love the culture, the language, the history, and the location that would give us ample opportunities to visit other European countries.

We have so many questions to ask. We have come up with the idea that ideally we would like to own and run a bed & breakfast. But we think that may be a major hurdle to overcome all at once since we don't know any of the tax laws, restrictions, visas, citizenship requirements, nor are we even close to knowing the language.

We have considered trying to find employment, then try to open a business etc, but again more questions.

I have 14 years of IT experience and my wife has taught school for 10 years. We don't know if those skills are in demand or not.

If anyone has any initial advice or questions for us, it would all be appreciated.
Your major hurdle, as non-EU citizens, is to get the right kind of visa that enables you to work or run a business in Italy. Government isn't keen to offer those visas and work permits, as they have high unemployment and want to preserve jobs and opportunities for those with legal right to them, i.e. Italians and other EU citizens. It doesn't mean it's impossible, but very hard esp in the current climate. Your best bet is some kind on internal transfer by a corporation with presence in Italy. Even though English is often the working language in IT, a high degree of Italian is still required to communicate with colleagues and clients. As for teaching, you can in reality only consider working in international schools or teaching English. Problem is that most schools employ only those with existing work privileges, such as EU citizens, those married to one or long-term residents, as sponsoring someone for a visa and permit will be constly, time-consuming and probably unlikely to succeed. Work opportunities have decreased because of recession and many expats returning home.
Very many Britons, who as EU citizens have none of the visa issues you face, have moved to Italy in search of better life, work and opportunities. While some have succeeded, many more have had their fingers burnt and had to return home, which has accelerated in recent years because of recession. While I don't want to sound like a doom monger and burst the balloon of anyone's dream move, you must let your head, rather than your heart, rule, to avoid what may turn out to be an expensive mistake. Being on holiday is nothing like living and working in a place all the year round.
 

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As Joppa has already pointed out, the language issue is probably going to be your biggest hurdle - at least to start with. Even to teach English, you'll probably find you need a conversational level of Italian, if only to understand your boss and the various job formalities.

But, to get yourselves started researching the requirements, check with the Italian Consulate in the US on visa requirements. Start here:Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thank you Bev and Joppa very much for responding.

We both agree that the language issue is important. We have full intent to not only learn Italian but become fluent. We even acquired Italian grammar and language books while were there so we could increase our skills with the chance to use them directly. I have the belief that in any country where a language other than English is spoken, I learn some phrases to get by and only transition to English if necessary, even the UK :wink:.

With that said, though what you say makes sense in terms of timing. My wife and I seem to have careers and skill sets that seem for the most part recession proof at least here in the states. I can also certainly appreciate the point of view of a country with high unemployment.

It may work out however since we will likely need a fair amount of time to get our affairs in order here before we move.

I am also curious about lending in the EU. We have 3 credit Bureaus in the US Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Does the EU use these or other agencies to determine borrowing capabilities? I would like to borrow as little as possible, but owning a business may require some of that.

Also are there any incentive programs for small businesses in Italy? For example tax breaks are given to minority owned businesses in the US along with SBA loans etc.

Thanks Again!
-Matt
 

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I am also curious about lending in the EU. We have 3 credit Bureaus in the US Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Does the EU use these or other agencies to determine borrowing capabilities? I would like to borrow as little as possible, but owning a business may require some of that.

Also are there any incentive programs for small businesses in Italy? For example tax breaks are given to minority owned businesses in the US along with SBA loans etc.
As you may have noted, I'm in France so can't speak for Italy though as you mentioned, things in the EU do tend to be at least "harmonized."

First of all, forget about US credit Bureaux. Except for the UK, such things don't exist over here. Generally, if you need credit, you go to your bank. Banks in Europe tend to insist on knowing more about you than the banks in the US. Most people have their paychecks direct deposited into their bank accounts and in many places, you don't have any other option. Direct bank transfers are far more common in Europe, and thus your bank has considerable information on hand about your income and spending habits.

Also, most "credit cards" (Visa, Master Card and Amex) are linked directly to your bank account and your purchases are simply extracted from your account each month. (In essence, functioning like a debit card in the US.) The idea of rolling over a credit balance just doesn't exist in much of Europe - and is one big reason why Europe didn't suffer as much or in the same way as the US in this current recession.

Each country has its own programs designed to subsidize small businesses. There are no "minority businesses" because much of Europe rejects the idea of "positive discrimination" (i.e. affirmative action). But in France there are programs that reduce or eliminate social charges for certain categories of new hires into a small business, or that give tax breaks to new businesses in certain "distressed" regions. These business benefits tend to change from year to year according to what the government is trying to promote, but I'm sure there are similar programs in Italy.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Each country has its own programs designed to subsidize small businesses. There are no "minority businesses" because much of Europe rejects the idea of "positive discrimination" (i.e. affirmative action). But in France there are programs that reduce or eliminate social charges for certain categories of new hires into a small business, or that give tax breaks to new businesses in certain "distressed" regions. These business benefits tend to change from year to year according to what the government is trying to promote, but I'm sure there are similar programs in Italy.
Just to add to Bev's helpful reply, you as a visa applicant can't rely on grants and loans as your necessary capital investment in order to be granted a business/entrepreneur visa. You are expected to have a substantial sum of money of your own (i.e. in your bank account) to invest in Italy, which will lead to creation of jobs for locals. You are free to seek out loans and grants over and above the initial investment once your visa is granted. I don't know what the stipulated amount is for Italy, but to get a similar visa for UK, you must invest a minimum of £200k ($320k). Most applicants have a million pound or more. It's the same if you want to switch from an employment visa (working for someone else) to a business/entrepreneur visa. You also need to submit your established track record (e.g. an audited account) of running a business, and a business plan for your proposals.
 

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I would recommend that one of you try to land a job with the US federal government in Italy as a GS employee. That will give you much information about living in Italy, a visa and carta di soggiorno, and some time to learn the language. Otherwise, coming to Italy as a non-EEU citizen with the need to make a living is a very very steep hill to climb. A much less rigorous route would be to buy a vacation home in Italy, stay in Italy for less than 90 days out of each 180 day period, and earn your living in the USA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again Joppa, Bev and Stefanaccio for the information.

I think Stefanaccio understands the spirit of our intent pretty well. This is great to see some other potential paths.

Do EU countries have reciprocal visas? For example if we established ourselves in the UK, could we acquire some type of visa that would allow us to move around and take jobs open a business or such? I will research what a carta di soggiorno provides too.

Thanks for the business info too Joppa, for the most part that is our plan to provide the great majority of start up costs ourselves, and only employ borrowing to keep things rolling if necessary.
 

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Do EU countries have reciprocal visas? For example if we established ourselves in the UK, could we acquire some type of visa that would allow us to move around and take jobs open a business or such? I will research what a carta di soggiorno provides too.

Thanks for the business info too Joppa, for the most part that is our plan to provide the great majority of start up costs ourselves, and only employ borrowing to keep things rolling if necessary.
No, unless you become naturalised as a British citizen and hold a British (i.e. EU) passport. This currently takes 5 years of residence (to become permanent resident) plus one, total 6 years. Long-stay and permanent residency visas are only valid for the country that issued them.
If you have certain ancestry, there may be a quicker route to citizenship. For example, if either of you have a grandparent born in Ireland (North or South), you can become an Irish citizen (another EU country). There are more complicated procedures for Italian and Greek ancestry, and German ancestry for certain victims of Nazi persecution. For British citizenship, the minimum qualification is having a parent who was born in UK or held British citizenship. Ancestry visa for having a UK-born grandparent extends only to Commonwealth citizens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No, unless you become naturalised as a British citizen and hold a British (i.e. EU) passport. This currently takes 5 years of residence (to become permanent resident) plus one, total 6 years. Long-stay and permanent residency visas are only valid for the country that issued them.
If you have certain ancestry, there may be a quicker route to citizenship. For example, if either of you have a grandparent born in Ireland (North or South), you can become an Irish citizen (another EU country). There are more complicated procedures for Italian and Greek ancestry, and German ancestry for certain victims of Nazi persecution. For British citizenship, the minimum qualification is having a parent who was born in UK or held British citizenship. Ancestry visa for having a UK-born grandparent extends only to Commonwealth citizens.
Can Visas extend to spouses? So if one of us gets a Visa can the other stay as well? And do some of them also provide work privileges for the spouse?
 

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Can Visas extend to spouses? So if one of us gets a Visa can the other stay as well? And do some of them also provide work privileges for the spouse?
It depends on the circumstances, the countries concerned and the types of visa. Generally, if one of you qualifies for a particular type of visa, e.g. your husband gets a visa sposorship for an IT job, then you can apply at the same time as spouse or dependent family member. Normally that carries work privileges as well so you can take up any job. But as your visa depends on your husband's status, if he loses his job and cannot get another sponsorship, you lose your rights as well. There are conditions attached to a spouse/family visa - for instance, the main visa applicant undertakes to support you financially, that you don't become dependent on welfare benefits (i.e. become a burden on the state - i.e. the income must be sufficient), that there is adequate health insurance plan in place (it may come as part of his salary package) and that you will be adequately housed (a suitable rental contract will suffice). Some countries don't grant work privileges to a spouse immediately, but only after a time, say 6 months to a year, or that they won't allow spouse's expected income to be added to the main salary to work out financial viability. You need to check Italian regulations on all this to be sure of where you stand.
 
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