Generally, immigration of non-EU foreign citizens for work purposes in Italy is subject to the annual programmatic quotas provided for by the flow decree. However, for some particular categories of workers, entry into Italy is permitted throughout the year without any numerical limit, including managers or highly specialized personnel of foreign companies with headquarters, branches, or representative offices in Italy.
What is a representative office?
A Representative Office (RO) is an entity with no legal autonomy which carries out auxiliary and preparatory activities in Italy on behalf of a foreign company; typically, such activities are those of marketing, sales promotion, collection of information, and scientific or market research, with the exception of actual sales and production operations. An RO shall be qualified by the absence of:
- a permanent endowment of means dedicated to carrying out the foreign company’s activity (or part of it);
- the power to act in the name and on behalf of the foreign company, binding the latter vis-à-vis third parties.
The presence of the elements listed above would imply the existence of a Branch Office, which falls within the legal and fiscal requirements of a permanent establishment.
The foreign company shall appoint a representative of the RO whose name will be entered in the Italian Companies’ Registry (this can be – in general terms – the same director of the foreign company and does not need to be an Italian resident). The company shall have an address in Italy and the mother company and the representative of the RO shall obtain an Italian tax identification number (codice fiscale).
The secondment visa for managers or highly specialized personnel
Article 27(a) of the Consolidated Act on Immigration provides for the entry and stay, outside of the quotas established by the flow decree, of “Managers or highly specialized personnel of companies with headquarters or branches in Italy or a representative office of foreign companies […]”.
Basically, the following requirements must be met simultaneously:
– The foreign national must qualify in Italy as a “manager” or “highly specialized personnel”.
– The foreign national must have been employed abroad for at least 6 months in the same sector before the temporary transfer to Italy;
– There must be a formal transfer of the temporary worker within the same group of companies
The secondment cannot exceed 5 years. At the end of the secondment contract, the worker can be hired by the seconded company.
During the entire period of secondment in Italy, the foreign worker must maintain his employment relationship with the mother company, while he/she must be granted the minimum wage foreseen by the national collective contract for the category applied by the Italian company. The foreign company must take charge of social security obligations by paying the relative contributions. Alternatively, if the foreigner’s country of origin has entered into a bilateral agreement on social security with Italy, it will be sufficient to produce the social security coverage certificate issued by the foreign social security institution to comply with Italian contribution obligations.
The visa procedure
The employer (in our case the representative of the office or subsidiary) must send the request for nulla osta (no impediment) via the dedicated online platform to the territorially competent Single Desk for Immigration at the Prefecture. The request must be accompanied, among other things, by a letter of secondment, duly translated and legalized and showing the corporate relationship between the seconding company and the subsidiary/representative office.
In the case of a positive evaluation of the request, the Prefecture issues the authorization and forwards it to the Italian consular representation of the worker’s country of residence. Within 6 months of receiving the nulla osta, the worker must apply in person to the consular representation for a visa.
Once in Italy, the foreigner must go to the competent police headquarters within eight days to apply for a residence permit.
What we can do for you
Our Studio, MGI Vannucci & Associati, thanks to experience developed in this sector and our collaboration with legal studios specialized in such matters, is ready to support you in carrying out the procedure for setting up a representative office in Italy and obtaining the visa:
– Assisting you in the submission of the documentation necessary for setting up the representative office, indicating the proper documentation and dealing with the local Chamber of Commerce.
– Assisting you in the collection and submission of the necessary documents for obtaining the visa, as well as communicating on your behalf with the relevant offices.
– Supporting you in the process of visa issuance by the competent Italian Representation.
– Assisting you in the process of applying for a residence permit and in all the paperwork after obtaining the visa.
– Providing tax and financial advice by a team of experienced professionals who will assist you with all the issues and requirements related to moving to our country.