The allure of stunning scenery, world-famous cuisine, historic cities, and a relaxed lifestyle draws many to Italy.
For high net worth individuals, the Italian Golden Visa program offers an additional opportunity – the ability to gain residence rights and citizenship through investment.
Introduced in 2017, the Italian golden visa (or residence by investment) program provides a fast-track to residence in Italy. It allows investors and their family members to live, work, study, and travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. After several years, it is also possible to acquire full Italian citizenship.
The benefits of the Golden Visa include:
- Residence rights in Italy, leading to permanent residence and citizenship
- Ability to live and work throughout the Schengen Area
- Travel visa-free within Europe’s Schengen countries
- Excellent education opportunities for children
- Special tax regime for foreign residents in Italy
- Residence in a nation with a high quality of life, stunning landscapes, and superb cuisine
Minimum investment requirements
To qualify for the Italian investor visa, you must invest a minimum amount in one of the following options:
- Government bonds – An investment of €500,000 in Italian government securities, which are low risk and have a minimum 2-year lock-in period.
- Italian company – Invest €1 million as share capital in an Italian company. The company must be incorporated and operating in Italy.
- Philanthropic donation – Donate €1 million to support the culture, education, managing immigration flows, and restoring Italian art and cultural assets.
In addition, you must demonstrate:
- Sufficient financial resources to support living in Italy without needing income or social assistance
- Health insurance coverage
- A clean criminal record and no prior deportations
You would need to undergo three stages to apply. Here are the steps for each phase:
Step 1 – apply for Nulla Osta clearance certificate
The first step is obtaining a Nulla Osta (certificate of no impediment) issued by the Italian authorities. This clearance certificate confirms that you have no issues that may affect your eligibility for long-term residence.
To apply, you will need to submit:
- Nulla Osta application form
- Valid passport
- Proof of qualifying investment
- Health insurance
- Background check and police clearance certificate
- Financial records demonstrating adequate resources
Step 2 – submit your investor visa application
With Nulla Osta approval in hand, you can proceed to submit the Golden Visa application. This is done at your nearest Italian embassy or consulate.
As part of the application, you must provide:
- Completed visa application form
- Passport valid for 3 months beyond the entry date
- Two passport-size photos
- Nulla Osta certificate
- Documentation proving your investment (e.g., government bonds, company incorporation, philanthropic transfer)
- Health insurance
- Proof of financial self-sufficiency
Step 3 – obtain Italian residence permit
Within 8 days of arriving in Italy, you must visit the local police station or post office to submit a residence permit application. This involves providing:
- Completed permit application
- Four passport-size photos
- Proof of address in Italy
- Health insurance
Step 4 – Submit proof of investment
Although you have already provided initial evidence, you must submit documentation that confirms your qualifying investment has been made.
For the government bond route, present the bond certificate. If investing in a company, provide the registration documents, articles of incorporation, and share purchase agreement. For a donation, submit the fund transfer receipt and confirmation from the receiving organization.
This proof should be submitted to the relevant agency that handles Golden Visa immigration.
Visa validity and renewals
The initial Italian Golden Visa and residence permit allow you to live in Italy for 2 years. You must renew the permit for additional 2-year periods by providing updated application documents.
After 5 years of continuous residence via the investor visa, you become eligible to apply for permanent residence. And after 10 years, you can acquire full Italian citizenship through naturalization.
Alternatively, the citizenship timeline can be reduced to just 3 years if you invest €2 million in a philanthropic donation, in addition to the base €500,000 investment.
Does Italy allow dual citizenship
In Italy, dual citizenship is allowed in the following scenarios:
a) Marriage to an Italian Citizen: If you are married to an Italian citizen, you can apply for Italian citizenship after being legally married for at least two years (or three years if residing abroad).
b) Descent from Italian Ancestry: Having Italian ancestors, like parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, may qualify you for Italian citizenship by descent. Proving your lineage could involve gathering various documents.
c) Residence in Italy: Being a legal resident in Italy for a specific period (usually ten years, but it can be reduced under certain circumstances) may make you eligible for Italian citizenship through naturalization without giving up your original citizenship.