The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the power to admit eligible aliens. The department issued a Visa-related decree on July 12, 2000 known as the Inter-Departmental Decree. This is done in pursuance of the 5th section paragraph 3C of the Presidential Decree number 394/1999 as amended by the 334/2004 DPR and published in the 33rd Official Gazette issued in 2005. This completed the legislative sources’ national corpus, which governs state matters. These state matters consist of the following:

Immigration Laws

•    Legislative Decree Number 286 – The Consolidated Act that implements the provisions which govern the alien status and immigration;
•    Presidential Decree Number 394 – The implementation of the regulation measures for the Consolidated Act;
•    Ministry of the Home Affairs Directive in 2000 – This directive defines the means of living for the immigration admissions of foreign nationals on the Italian territory (From the 64th issue of the Official Gazette 2000);
•    The Law Number 189 in 2002 – This enacts the immigration amendments as well as the asylum law;
•    DPR of 2004 Number 354 – This is the regulation that amends and supplements DPR of 1999 Number 394 regarding matters of immigration.

The application of these laws were described by an expat in the Italy Expat Forum last May 7, 2009:

Most countries in Europe don't have quite the elaborate categories of visas that the US has. You need to contact the Italian consulate in the country where you are currently resident (evidently Australia) and find out from them what the requirements are for a long-stay visa given your current circumstances.

It's normally difficult for someone of "working age" to get a non-work visa, simply based on the idea that you have to support yourself somehow and the local tax authority is going to want you to pay your fair share of taxes. However, in your situation, it all may depend on what sort of income you are drawing from your business in the US (i.e. are you working remotely? living off the dividends? drawing a sort of pension? or some other arrangement?) and its status for tax purposes in Italy.


The Schengen Area is the external border that foreign nationals can enter using crossing points on the said border. This means people within the Schengen Area are free to explore the sea ports, sea borders and corresponding airports provided they do not set foot beyond external borders without proper documentation.


The Schengen Area is the external border that foreign nationals can enter using crossing points on the said border. This means people within the Schengen Area are free to explore the sea ports, sea borders and corresponding airports provided they do not set foot beyond external borders without proper documentation.

The internal borders of the Schengen Area are the usual land borders such as sea ports used for passenger connections, airports intended for internal airfare, and other ports that are exclusively within the Schengen Area territory.

Important visitor information include the guideline that when entering Italy, even if you have already obtained a visa, the border authorities are authorized to check the documentation required for obtaining the visa itself.

Pursuant to article 4, paragraph 2 of Consolidated Text no. 286/98 and subsequent amendments, concomitant with the issuance of your visa you will receive a written communication from the diplomatic or consular authority illustrating the rights and obligations associated with your entrance and stay in Italy, with particular regard to the procedures envisaged for requesting a "Permesso di soggiorno" (permission to stay) or the issuance of a "Dichiarazione di presenza" (statement of presence).

Entry to Italy

Entry to the Italian territory by means of the external borders in the Schengen Area is limited to those foreign nationals who:

•    Possess a recognized travel document or passport that permits them to cross Italy’s borders;
•    Seek refuge to a crossing point border;
•    Possess a document that substantiates the conditions and purpose of the visit (this should also be capable of showing they have sufficient funds to support their needs for the period of their stay and for their return to their own countries. They can also travel to a Third State in a transit bus. A foreign national who already has a residence permit issued by one or more contracting parties is exempted from the requirement;
•    Have not been banned for entry. The Schengen Information System alerts the officer-in-charge if the foreign national has been banned in Italy or deported from any country;
•    Possess a transit visa or valid entry.
•    Are not referred as a threat to national, international and public security as well as in international relations of contracting parties. The Italian law or another Schengen State has the power to ban individuals that may be a threat to their territory.

If one of the conditions above is not followed, then you as a foreign national may be denied entry by border authorities even while possessing a valid transit or entry visa.

Entering into Italy with a work permit requires so much more, as described in a post in the Italy Expat Forum last April 10, 2008:

Have you discussed with your potential employer(s) the issue of bringing your wife with you? Normally (although visas and immigration are one area that the EU has decided not to mess with), an employer applies for the visas for a foreign employee and his or her family members at the same time. Now, also normally, the spouse gets a visa that does not allow her to work - nicknamed a "trailing spouse" visa. The trick here is that the Italians may not be able to apply for her visa until you have a marriage certificate to present.

However, with qualifications like hers there is surely some way for your employer to find out what her work options will be. It's possible that she may not be able to work until you have been married for at least a year (sometimes two). That's how it is in France - and Italy's rules are often similar.

The other option is to ask yourself at the closest Italian embassy or consulate. (They are usually available online, though the consulates won't normally respond to e-mail questions. At least you'll get the phone numbers and opening hours.)

Visa Types and Validity

There are two (2) different types of Visas are provided by Italian Immigration.  First is the Individual Visa requiring a sole passport before issuance of the visa. The other one is the Group Visa issued to a group of foreign nationals who have the same nationality as indicated on their passports provided the document is formally and expressly recognized in Italy. This visa does not normally exceed thirty days.

3 Main Categories of Visas

The 3 categories of visas are as follows:

1.    The USV or the Uniform Schengen Visa is valid for all the territories of the Contracting Parties. They are further subdivided into 3 categories, namely:

a)    Type A or Airport Transit Visa;
b)    Type B or Transit Visa; and
c)    Type C or Travel or Short-Stay Visa valid for a total of 90 days for multiple or single entries.

2. The LTV or Limited Territorial Validity Visa is only valid in the Schengen State. The representative issues the visa without giving possibilities of accessing any state within the Schengen Area. This kind of restriction is intended only for national interest or humanitarian reasons with exception to the USV system. A foreign national may not apply directly for this visa because it is sometimes issued only by the consular or diplomatic representative whenever necessary.
2.    NV or the Long-Stay “National” Visa is for longer visits of over ninety (90) days. This comes with more than one entry in the State of Schengen.

In Schengen, the diplomatic representative issues a visa. This allows you to go through all the states of Schengen for not more than 5 days.

The Long-Stay “National” Visa has the value of a short-term visa. This visa application must be done in writing with all the required details indicated on the application form for special visas. This must be duly signed, and a passport-sized picture must be attached to it. You need to visit the consular or diplomatic office in person and be interviewed on the circumstances and reasons for your stay in Italy. You should possess valid documentation for travel upon presentation at the consulate or embassy.

Travel documents that must be secured and presented are the following:

•    Sole purpose of your visit;
•    The means of transportation you have in entering and leaving Italy;
•    Evidence that your funds are sufficient for the duration of your stay and journey;
•    Lastly, your accommodation arrangements.

21 Kinds of Visa Entries

The 21 types of Visa Entries as stated by the Inter-Departmental Decree of 2000 are as follows:

•    Business;
•    Religious;
•    Sports;
•    Adoption;
•    medical treatment;
•    self-employment;
•    diplomatic;
•    competitions;
•    made employment;
•    invitations;
•    job-seeking (recently been abolished);
•    tourism;
•    transport;
•    transit;
•    airport transit;
•    re-entry;
•    grounds;
•    choice of residence;
•    studies; and
•    working holidays.