Moving to Italy from the USA: Visas and costs (2023-2024)

Learn all the practicalities of moving to Italy from the USA. Find out which visa you need and how to send your household belongings across the ocean.


5 minute read
Updated on 27 Feb 2024

Have you ever imagined yourself waking up on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea? Or being able to casually take a stroll through ancient ruins on your way to study or work? If you just nodded your head, keep reading! We will walk you through the ways of making your dream come true and moving to Italy from the USA!

How many Americans live in Italy?

There're 15,658 Americans living in Italy today. Although most of them reside in bigger cities like Rome and Milan, there’re plenty of beautiful Italian destinations to choose from, depending on your priorities.

Living in Italy as an American

Living in Italy as a US citizen is possible if you have the right permit.

There are 2 types of residence permits in Italy:

1. Permesso di Soggiorno: a temporary, renewable residence permit with varying durations of validity.

You can apply for Italian citizenship after living in Italy for 10 uninterrupted years with this type of residence permit.

2. Carta di Soggiorno: a permanent residence permit issued for an indefinite period. You can apply for it after 5 uninterrupted years of residing in Italy with a temporary residence permit.

This type of permit grants you rights similar to Italian citizens. You would be able to live and work in EU countries without a visa or work permit and receive state benefits.

Applying for citizenship is possible after 5 years of living in Italy with a permanent residence permit.

You can only apply for your residence permit once you are in Italy and no later than within 8 days after your arrival. So, you need to arrange your long-stay visa first.

Now, let’s have a closer look at how you can enter Italy from America.

Types of visas for traveling to Italy from the US

Americans who intend to stay in Italy for less than 90 days don’t need to worry about visas.

However, if you plan to go for an extended period, you’ll have to apply for a long-stay visa. This is a crucial step because you can’t apply for an Italian residence permit without this long-stay visa.

To apply, head to the Italian consulate that serves your state or region.

There are 6 different visas you can apply for to live in Italy as an American:

  • Student Visa
  • Work Visa
  • EU Blue Card
  • Self-employed Visa
  • Golden Visa
  • Elective Visa

Some terms to understand:

Nulla Osta is a certificate of no impediment that proves that you are legally allowed to work or get married in Italy. It has to be requested at an Italian Immigration Desk by you or your employer prior to the visa application.

Decreto Flussi is a quota that defines how many work visas Italy will grant in the coming year. In 2023, the number increased to 82,705.

1. Student visa

Who is it for: Americans who are applying to an Italian university.

Validity: 1 year and can be renewed as long as you continue your education.

Things to keep in mind: You should start your visa application as soon as you receive an admission letter from the university of your choice.

Be ready to show proof of health insurance, place of residence in Italy and sufficient financial means. Soon after you submit the visa application, you’ll be invited for an interview with the Italian Embassy or Consulate in the US.

Cost: €80 ($90.34)

2. Work visa

Who is it for: Foreign nationals who’ve received an offer from an Italian company to work in salaried employment.

Validity: Work visas are usually valid for the duration of the work contract, but no longer than 2 years. It can be renewed for up to 5 years.

Things to keep in mind: Your employer has to initiate this visa by acquiring a work permit (Nulla Osta) from the Immigration Department.

Apart from that, keep in mind that this type of visa is subject to Decreto Flussi. So you’ll get your work permit only if the yearly quota hasn’t been filled yet.

Only after you obtain the authorization to work, you can apply for your work visa at the local consulate. Once you get your visa, you can enter Italy from the US.

Cost: €116 ($140)

3. EU blue card

Who is it for: Highly skilled migrants with a bachelor’s degree of at least 3 years and a minimum 12-month job offer or contract from a company based in Italy.

Validity: The duration of your contract. In the case of a permanent contract, the EU Blue Card is issued for 2 years.

Things to keep in mind: The process is similar to applying for a regular work visa. You can apply for your visa at a local consulate only after your employer gets a security clearance (Nulla Osta).

This visa type falls outside the quota system (Decreto Flussi). However, it does have a minimum gross income requirement of €24,790 ($27,981).

Cost: €100 EUR ($113)

4. Self-employment visa

Who is it for: Americans who would like to work as freelancers or open a business in Italy.

There are 2 types of self-employment visas based on the type of business activities you will perform:

  1. The Italy Startup Visa: For Americans who intend to open an innovative company in Italy or take up an executive role in an existing company.

  2. The Italy Freelancer Visa: For those planning to work on a freelance basis.

Validity: The self-employment visas are normally granted for 2 years. You can renew it until you get your permanent residence.

Things to keep in mind: It’s considered extremely difficult to obtain a self-employment visa in Italy because there’s a quota that caps the number of self-employment visas per year.

To make things more complicated, self-employed individuals or freelancers need to obtain an authorisation to work (Nulla Osta). Since only Italian companies can apply for this on behalf of their employees, you need to hire an immigration consultancy agency in Italy to get your security clearance.

After you receive the Nulla Osta, you can start your visa application.

Cost: €116 ($140)

5. Golden visa aka Investor visa

Who is it for: High net worth individuals who can make a significant contribution to the Italian economy and community.

You can apply for this visa by investing:

  • €250,000 in an innovative start-up
  • €500,000 in a limited company
  • €2,000,000 in government bonds, or
  • make a €1,000,000 philanthropic donation

Validity: 2 years.

Things to keep in mind: To apply, you should be ready to show your CV along with proof of the legal origins of your funds.

You’ll need to register on the Investor visa portal where you can find all the necessary forms and upload them. When you receive a positive decision, The Committee Secretariat will issue a Nulla Osta.

After that, you’ll have 6 months to request your investor visa at the closest consulate. Once in Italy, you’ll have 3 months to upload the proof of your investment or donation.

You’ll need to maintain your investment as long as you want to keep your visa. After 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency in Italy which will no longer oblige you to maintain your investment level.

Cost: Free.

6. Elective visa aka Italian retirement visa

Who is it for: American retirees or individuals with passive income, who want to move to Italy from the USA and can financially support themselves without working.

Validity: This residence permit is given for 1 year and can be renewed.

Things to keep in mind: You are not allowed to work with this type of visa. So, prepare to present a documented and detailed guarantee of substantial and consistent financial resources.

That means bank statements as well as passive income sources such as pension, annuities, property ownership and lease agreements, or business ownership and related documentation.

You must earn a minimum of €31,000 ($35,015) per year if applying alone. For a married couple, the amount is €38,000 ($42,920). The number is increased by 20% for each family member that comes with you.

Cost: €116 ($140)

Now that you're familiar with most of the practicalities of moving to Italy from the USA, you can start looking for your dream home in this beautiful country!

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