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Italy opens borders to "digital nomads" but questions remain

Apr 13, 2024

Rome [Italy], April 13: More than two years later than scheduled, Italy's so-called "digital nomad visa" went into effect this month. However, analysts say the measure aimed at attracting highly-skilled workers to the country still poses questions.
The measure allows remote workers from non-European Union (EU) countries to legally stay in Italy as long as they meet certain requirements. Among the rules: visa holders must have their own health insurance, earn at least 25,500 euros (27,200 U.S. dollars) a year, have at least six-month expertise in their field and be free of criminal convictions.
"This kind of program makes sense for Italy because many people are attracted to the country and it gives the government a way to attract professionals and adds to tax revenue," Livio Pochetti, a Rome-based attorney specializing in immigration law, told Xinhua.
Expats are expected to benefit from the new visa. Mike la Pointe, director of learning and development for a U.S.-based real-estate company, started the application process for a "digital nomad visa" in 2022 when it was first announced. But the law's entry into force was delayed.
Ultimately, la Pointe moved to Italy under a student visa and could soon be eligible for a work visa due to the work contract of his wife, Gillian. He said he was still considering applying for the "digital nomad visa" now that it has finally entered into force.
"In theory, a visa like this offers the best of both worlds," la Pointe told Xinhua. "A person can work for an international company and earn high wages while enjoying a high quality of life and great food and weather. The problem is the process of getting the visa."
Other EU countries -- including Spain, Romania, Croatia, and Cyprus -- announced their "digital nomad" plans after Italy, but launched their programs before Italy.
There is no EU obligation for countries to offer such a visa and tax and income rules differ among the countries offering the visa. With its relatively low income requirement, media reports say that the Italian option appears to be among the most attractive.
Aside from the delays to the plan, Pochetti said the Italian initiative is weakened by a lack of clarity in some key areas, including excessive oversight of applications, administrative difficulties, and the definition of "high-skilled" workers. It is also unclear whether holders of "digital nomad visas" would ultimately be able to convert their status to a more permanent type of visa.
"It's likely that further instructions on the plan will be published at some point in the future," Pochetti said.
There are no formal estimates on how many people will enter Italy under the plan, which does not include any limits on the number of applicants.
The "digital nomad visa" plan went into effect on April 4. The process to create the initiative was originally passed in January 2022.
Source: Xinhua