On July 21, 2017 the Ministries of Economic Development, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs jointly issued the decree which rules the applicable procedure for obtaining the “investor visa” provided by the 2017 Budget Law (Law 11 December 2016, n. 232).
To realize such measure, a new article 26-bis has been introduced into the consolidated Italian immigration law (Legislative Decree no. 286/1998). The “investor visa” allows foreign investors seeking to engage in capital investments in Italy to obtain – subject to certain conditions – a residence permit for more than 3 months, without being compliance with those restrictions which ordinarily limit foreigners’ entry and stay in Italy (the mentioned quota restrictions are yearly established by the Internal Affairs Ministry).
The “investor visa” program – which has an undoubted attractive aim – will allow foreign investors to benefit from more favorable treatments than those commonly applied to foreign citizens, against a concrete and tangible investment or a charitable contribution in Italy.
In particular, a foreign investor may be eligible for obtaining an “investor visa” – which will last for 2 years, renewable for further 3 years – providing that one of the following investment / donation is carried out:
(i) at least Euro 2 millions in Italian government bonds, providing that the investment is held for no less than 2 years;
(ii) at least Euro 1 million in equity instruments of company incorporated and operating in Italy, providing that the investment is held for no less than 2 years, or Euro 500.000 in case of an innovative start-up company.
Innovative start-up company shall be incorporated in compliance with certain requirements (see article 25, par. 2, of the Law decree 18 October 2012, no. 179 converted into Law 17 December 2012 no. 221). In particular, an innovative start-up shall be a company:
– newly incorporated or operating for less than 5 years;
– which have its headquarter in Italy or in another EU country, but with at least a production site branch in Italy;
– which have a yearly turnover lower than Euro 5 million;
– which do not – and has not distribute – profits;
– which have as exclusive or prevalent company object – as stated in the deed of incorporation – the production, development and commercialization of innovative goods or services of high technological value;
– which is not the result of a merger, split-up or selling-off of a company or branch.
The innovative feature of a start-up company is deemed to exist if 15% of its turnover is generated through research and development activities, or the company is owner or licensee of a registered patent, employs PhD holders’, PhD students or researchers.
(iii) at least Euro 1 million philanthropic funding is made for supporting projects of public interest in the field of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes. Such charitable contribution – in term of movable or immovable properties providing that their values is no lower than euro 1.000.000 – cannot be withdrawn by the parties. The form of the donation is essential: it shall be executed through notarial public deed before two witnesses.
The issuance of the “investor visa” and the residence permit is in any case subject to the preliminary assessment – to be carried out by the Committee established through the ministerial decree – of the above mentioned requirements.
In particular, for the issuance of the “investor visa”, the foreign investor shall provide – through a specific web platform, jointly with copy of a valid passport/travel document – the followings:
(i) documentary evidence of being the beneficial owner of readily transferable funds in Italy (Euro 2.000.000 for investment is government bonds and Euro 1.000.000 for investment in equity instruments of company);
(ii) declaration stating the lawful source of the funds;
(iii) written declaration through which the applicant undertakes the commitment to use the funds above mentioned for an investment or philanthropic donation within 3 months from the entry in Italy and to hold the investment for no less than 2 years. This declaration shall be filed along with a description of the characteristics and the beneficiary of the investment or the donation;
(iv) provide documentary evidence of the availability of further economic resource sufficient to sustain the investors themselves during their stay in Italy.
After the procedure for the issuance of the visa being completed – within 30 days from the receipt of the relevant request – the Committee will issue its clearance. Once the clearance is issued, the applicant may request the visa to the competent consular office on the territory which will grant the “investor visa”.
Within 8 days from the entry in Italy, the applicant may request to the competent police station the issuance of a two-years residence permit for investors.
Within 3 months from the entry in Italy, the investor who obtained the visa shall file with the Committee the documents proving that the investment or the donation has effectively carried out for the whole expected amount. If the communication is not filed or if it is not supported by adequate documental evidence, the competent police station may reject the permit request or withdraw the permit already granted. The residence permit may be withdrawn at any time also prior to the expiry term in case the investment results to be abandoned.
The residence permit may be renewed for further 3 years subject to previous assessment that the funds have been entirely used within 3 months from the entry in Italy and that the same funds are still invested.