I wish everything were black and white.
Not literally of course (love me some color!), but I just wish that every question had a black and white answer. Like why can’t I remember my dreams? Why is the word for ‘beer’ in Italian feminine (la birra) and the word for ‘wine’ masculine (il vino) even though men tend to prefer beer and women tend to prefer wine? Why is the sky blue? (The correct answer is: “Because God is dead and we’re alone.” – but that’s another story).
But the question that I really wish were black and white is “What is the decreto flussi?”
Two little words I have come to love and despise at the same time.
Recently I’ve been getting a WHOLE LOT OF questions about working in Italy. Questions that are really difficult to answer without speaking about the decreto flussi, which is inherently an enigma in and of itself. Am I an immigration lawyer? Certainly not. But I have had to deal with a lot of bureaucratic
bullshit red tape when it comes to working in Italy.
So let’s get to it.
What is the Decreto Flussi anyways?
The Decreto Flussi – translated as ‘flow decree’ in English – is an Italian immigration policy that states when and how non-EU foreigners can enter Italy, as well as how many immigrants from a each country are allowed to enter. Think about it like a door to the Italy working world. When the door is closed, no immigrants are allowed in for working motives (motives related to study, family, and highly specialized jobs are different and don’t fall under this decreto flussi category). When the door is open, a certain number of immigrants from each designated country are allowed to apply for a work visa, so long as they have an employer willing to sponsor them.
Sounds simple right? There’s only one catch: the decreto flussi isn’t always open. In fact it’s usually only open for a few months out of the year, sometimes every couple of years depending upon Italy’s current state of immigration and job market. The opening times are completely random and there is practically impossible to predict when a a decreto flussi is going to open.
Of course EU citizens, this whole work visa/decreto flussi business isn’t a problem. EU citizens can legally work in Italy without a visa. Yet for non-EU Citizens it’s tricky business – even if a foreigner is fully qualified for a position, an employer can’t legally hire a non-EU citizen without a work visa and they can’t apply for a work visa unless the decreto flussi is open.
What Can You Do?
First thing’s first – speak to your potential employer. Ask them if they can help you apply for a work visa and if the decreto flussi is open. If they are Italian, they will probably be able to navigate and understand the bureaucratic process easier than you.
Some employers are hesitant to help, probably because they aren’t sure they want to go through all the trouble of sponsoring a work visa for an employee they don’t know very well. From my experience in the English teaching industry, schools can just as easily hire someone with an EU passport who is just as qualified for the job as you are. In this case, you might have to make some sacrifices, apply for a student visa in the meantime (yes, you’d have to enroll in school in Italy), and then convert your student visa into a work visa later after the employer has gotten to know you and agrees to take you on as a permanent employee.
Second thing you can do is have a look at the Ministero dell’Interno’s website to see if there’s any news about the decreto flussi. There’s also loads of information about what is called a Nulla Osta – this the application that your employer and you must complete when applying for a work visa. Here’s an example of a announcement about the opening time of the decreto flussi, when you and your employer can send your Nulla Osta request online.
To make the Nulla Osta request, you should register through the Ministero dell’Interno’s portal first and complete the application online. After that, they should send you instructions on how to apply for your permesso di soggiorno per lavoro.
Still not sure what to do? Please leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to answer your question.
In bocca al lupo! (good luck)