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Intra Company Transfer Visa in Italy

The Intra Company Transferee visa applies to corporate groups that are temporarily transferring their non-EU nationals, employees of a company of the group, to their Italian company.

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The Italian Intra Company Transfer Visa (also shortened to ICT Visa) applies to corporate groups that are temporarily transferring their non-EU nationals, employees of a company of the group, to their Italian company.

Italian companies that are part of multinational groups with branches or headquarters registered abroad can choose to avail of workforce employed by their foreign branches or headquarters, instead of hiring local workers, and use Intra Company Transfer Visas. They can do so by temporarily transferring the foreign worker in Italy through a secondment process. 

Meaning of seconding non-EU workers through the Italian Intra Company Visa

The notion of secondment is set by Italian Legislative Decree no. 276/2003. It refers to cases where an employer, to satisfy their business interest, temporarily assigns a worker to another party. This for the execution of a specific work activity. Therefore, the secondment process entails the cooperation among 3 parties:

  • the employer (or sending company);
  • the worker employed by the sending company;
  • the Italian hosting company.

Intra Company Transfer Visa Italy: two categories

Non-EU citizens must obtain a work permit (Nulla Osta in Italian) in order to perform work activities in Italy. The release of such work permits is governed by an Annual Quota System. Accordingly, there is a numerical limit of “Nulla Osta” that an employer can obtain for each category of foreign workers. Also, there are specific periods of the year for applications submission.

Luckily, some categories of workers are excluded from the quota system and their admission is not subject to a fixed limit. This is the case of Intra Company Transferees, namely employees temporarily assigned to the Italian branch of a foreign legal entity.

The Italian Immigration Law provides two main categories of Intra Company Transferee Work Permits:

  1. National Intra-Company Work Permit (Art. 27 c.1 lett. (a) of Italian Immigration Law)
  2. EU ICT Work Permit (Art. 27 quinquies and Art. 27 sexies of Italian Immigration Law)

Under these two options, workers do not become local employees of the hosting company. In fact, they still maintain an employment relationship with the home country employer.

Eligibility conditions for the Intra Company Transfer Visa in Italy

The workers who will be temporarily seconded and are eligible for an Intra Company Transfer Visa Italy are:

  • Executives;
  • Highly specialized workers (i.e. employees holding the mandatory and specialist know-how requested for the business area, techniques and management of the hosting company);
  • Trainees (i.e. employees holding a degree, who transfer to Italy for the purpose of their professional career or of the acquisition of corporate methods and techniques).

Furthermore, the EU ICT Work Permit is applicable even to those workers who already possess an ICT work permit for another European country and who are subsequently transferred to Italy.

On the contrary, such a permit is not applicable to students who aim to complete short term internships within their study course or to workers who trasnfer to Italy to provide services to companies. For these categories of workers, different visas and work permits categories are available.

Intra Company Transfer Visa Italy: Application Requirements

For a successful immigration process, it is necessary that both the company and the worker comply with specific requirements and supply specific documents.

Mandatory requirements for the company

  • Firstly, there must be a proved connection between the hosting company and the foreign sending company;
  • Secondly, there must be a secondment agreement between the sending company and the worker;
  • Thirdly, the work activity in Italy must comply with the same local law provisions as an employee locally hired in the receiving company.
    That is to say:
  • Maximum and minimum working hours permitted
  • Minimum duration of the annual paid leaves
  • Minimum wage level
  • Health and safety on the work place
  • Payment of the due social security contributions
  • Non discrimination due to sex

Mandatory requirements for the non-EU worker

  • Firstly, the worker must have been employed abroad by the same company and/or in the same sector for at least 6 consecutive months before the transfer (3 in case of the EU ICT Work Permit);
  • Secondly, the worker must hold the qualifications, professional experience and educational degree suitable for covering the role. If the educational degree has been issued in a foreign country, it must be correctly legalized for use in Italy. For further information on this, check out how the legalization of documents works.
  • Thirdly, how long will a secondment legally last? Under the National Intra-Company Work Permit, the worker can be on secondment for up to 5 years (including extensions), after which the hosting company can hire him locally. In the case of the EU ICT Work Permit, on the contrary, the secondment can last for up to 3 years (1 year in case of trainees), after which the worker must return to the home country.

Consequences for non compliance to the requirements

The Italian Immigration Law provides for sever consequences in case of non compliance. Specifically, if the authorities establish that the company or the employee do not comply with the law provisions, they can deny or revoke the work permit authorization. This may happen, for instance, if the authorities ascertain that the hosting company was set up with the sole purpose of facilitating the immigration of workers to Italy.

Furthermore, art 27-quinquies of the Italian Immigration Law foresees the application of the criminal sanctions specified under Art. 22, c.12 of the the same Law. That is to say imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and fines of €5.000 for each employed worker. These can be increased as per same article in case of aggravating circumstances.

NLI clarifications on company requirements

With note no. 12233 of 27 November 2020, the National Labor Inspectorate (NLI) clarified some aspects concerning the correct application of Article 27 quinquies of Legislative Decree no. 286/1998, that regulates intra-company transfers.

Specifically, Art. 27 imposes to the host company to commit to fulfill the social security and welfare obligations provided for by Italian law. Hence, any checks on the economic suitability will be carried out on the host entity (Italian company). NLI clarified that where the host entity is a branch of a foreign parent company, it will be possible to assess in overall terms the economic capacity of both parties, so that the parent company can cover any economic deficit of the branch.

This being said, the investigation of the economic adequacy of the host entity remains necessary. The survey, in fact, is aimed to exclude that the host entity was established mainly for the purpose of facilitating the entry of workforce or that it does not carry out any economic activity.

Therefore, following the above-mentioned verifications, as also indicated in Circular No. 517 of 9 February 2017, the possibility of refusal or withdrawal of the authorization is not excluded.

Application Process for the Intra-Company Transfer Visa Italy

The general procedure to obtain a work permit and the correspondent residence permit is the following:

  1. Work Permit application: it is the Italian company or their authorized third party who submits the application. Processing time varies according to the Italian province but it is in general up to 2 months;
  2. Work Visa obtainment: after the work permit release, the worker shall apply for a work visa at the diplomatic representation in their country or origin. Processing time varies according to the Consulates and Embassies but it is in general 15 days;
  3. Entry to Italy and local registrations: within 8 days from the entry to Italy, the worker must report his entry to the local Immigration Office. The worker will attend an appointment to sign the relevant contract of stay (where applicable) and file the residence permit application;
  4. Residence permit obtainment: The foreign shall attend other two appointments in person. The first aims at releasing the biometrics, while the second at collecting the final residence permit. Processing time for the obtainment of the final residence permit card is up to 2-6 months.

To learn more about other types of Italian work visas, take a look at our complete guide on Italy Work Visa

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