The Visa Situation: How to Work The Red Tape

Aiuto!!!! (Help!!!) I’m a US citizen and I want to live in Italy, but is it even possibile?!?!

I know the feeling. Been there.

Unfortunately, USA and Italy do not have a 1 year visa work program like Canada or Australia, or basically any other English speaking country. So, we have to get creative.

There are several different types of visas. (Please visit your consulate website for “official” information)

The “ancestry” visa– If you have an Italian ancestor (grandmother, great grandmother, etc) up to a certain limit (I think great grandmother, but I’m not sure) you can receive an Italian passport. For those of you who can, I am very jealous. You are lucky! Side note: You can also try to get an “ancestry passport” from another EU/Schengen zone country.

The work visa– This is very difficult to get if you are a US citizen. The company must sponsor you, and usually they won’t deal with the red tape involved. However, if you are already living in Italy with a student visa, it is much easier to change from a student visa to a work visa.

The “resident” visa– Basically you have to prove you have enough money saved to live here for however long you say you are going to live here for. The downside is that legally you can’t work on this visa.

The student visa– A common route, and the one I did by enrolling in language courses at a private language school. It allows you to legally work up to 20 hours a week. More details below. BUT PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPECIFIC CONSULATE!

So, you need to register for a course of study in an Italian institute that is at least 20 hours a week. Cooking, language, or whatever. It must last the duration you want to stay.

With the “acceptance letter” that the school will provide, you must go to your consulate. At the consulate you must present other documents. For example, financial documents, passport, where you will be staying, etc. You must also present your round-trip flight. Hmm, but what if I don’t know when I am coming back exactly? Well, keep in mind that the flights allow you to have a 24 hour cancellation and there is always a change fee if you do keep you ticket after showing it to the consulate and change it later.
Another tidbit of information about schools, some schools make you pay only the deposit before you arrive. Then you pay the rest once you arrive (if you really complete the entire course).

Finding a school and preparing the documents is in your control. What isn’t, unfortunately, are the consulates. Some consulates are very strict and others are lax. I suggest preparing all the documents you can and then some, just to be extra “official”. This way they cannot have any reason to deny you. I was very nervous when I went, but in fact, the process was very fast and not scary at all. They barely glanced at me. Then again, I was very prepared.

Another tip for preparing documents, you can search for affidavits examples/templates online and change it to fit your needs. Also, when filling out a form, research study abroad programs as some universities already have a step-by-step instruction to help their students. You can use this information for yourself.