New entry and residence conditions for highly qualified non-EU workers

23 November 2023

The Italian Council of Ministers has published in the Italian Official Gazette no. 256 of 2 November 2023, Italian Legislative Decree no. 152 of 18 October 2023, which implements Directive (EU) 2021/1883 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2021, relating to the new conditions of entry and residence of citizens of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment and obtain the issue of the EU Blue Card.

With Italian Legislative Decree no. 152/2023, the Italian Council of Ministers has made changes to Article 27-quater of Italian Legislative Decree no. 286/1998, “Consolidated law regulating immigration and rules on the status of foreign nationals”, the so-called Consolidated Immigration Law.

Highly qualified workers

Italian Legislative Decree no. 152/2023 redefines the requirements which the worker must meet to be considered highly qualified and obtain the release of the EU Blue Card: he or she must, alternatively:

  • hold a tertiary level education qualification issued by the competent authority in the country where it was obtained, which certifies the completion of a higher education course lasting at least three years or of a post-secondary professional qualification lasting at least three years or corresponding at least to level 6 of the National Qualifications Framework;
  • meet the requirements set out in Italian Legislative Decree no. 206/2007, limited to the exercise of regulated professions, access to which or the right to exercise that profession is subject to holding a specific professional qualification;
  • hold a higher professional qualification attested by at least five years of high-level professional experience, comparable to tertiary level higher education qualifications, relevant to the profession or sector specified in the employment contract or to the binding offer;
  • hold a higher professional qualification attested by at least three years of relevant professional experience acquired in the seven years preceding the submission of the application for an EU Blue Card, regarding managers and specialists in the field of information and communication technologies referred to in the ISCO-08 classification, no. 133 and no. 25.

The ‘authorisation’ request

The changes introduced regarding the documentation that the employer must produce when submitting the application for authorisation, under penalty of its rejection, are of particular interest. It is no longer necessary for the offer of an employment contract, or the binding job offer for the performance of a work activity that requires the possession of a higher professional qualification to last at least one year, but it is sufficient that it be biannual.

On the other hand, the documents that must be produced by the employer when submitting the authorisation request are reiterated, namely the educational qualification, the higher professional qualification or the requirements under Italian Legislative Decree No. 206/2007 related to regulated professions, the amount of annual salary that cannot be less than that provided for in the applicable national collective bargaining agreement (contratto collettivo nazionale di lavoro – CCNL) based on the level of classification envisaged for the recruitment of the highly qualified worker.

The procedure for an application for an EU Blue Card by a third country national, who already holds another residence permit issued to carry out a highly qualified job is further simplified: in these cases, it will no longer be necessary for the employer to produce the above documentation, since it has already been checked when issuing the previously issued residence permit.

In addition, again with the aim of simplifying and facilitating the recruitment of highly qualified foreign nationals, it has been provided that the employer is no longer required to check with the Job Centre the availability of a worker already in Italy and, while waiting for the residence permit to be issued by the Police Headquarters (Questura) (normally within 30 days of the request), the foreign national will still be able to work.

Finally, the period during which the EU Blue Card worker must perform only the highly skilled activity for which his or her entry into Italy was requested is reduced from two years to 12 months.

Refusal to issue the EU Blue Card

The reasons that justify the refusal to issue a residence permit for the performance of highly qualified work – the EU Blue Card – or, if it has been granted, its revocation, include, in the alternative, when the foreign national no longer:

  1. holds the educational qualification to be considered highly qualified


  • receives a salary higher than that provided by the CCNL


  • holds a valid employment contract for a highly qualified job.

The conversion into a residence permit

The new provisions introduced by Italian Legislative Decree no. 152/2023 provide, if the requirements are met, for the conversion of the EU Blue Card into a residence permit for:

  • subordinate work;
  • self-employment;
  • study.

Moreover, if the conditions for family reunification are met and the complete application is submitted at the same time as the EU Blue Card application, the residence permit of the family member and that of the highly qualified worker will be issued at the same time.

Another change concerns a foreign national who holds a valid EU Blue Card issued by another Member State: in this regard, it is possible to enter and reside in Italy to carry out a professional activity for a maximum period of 90 days within a period of 180 days. If the residence period to carry out the highly qualified activity is longer than 90 days, it is necessary to apply for an authorisation, but not for an entry visa.

Finally, a foreign national who loses his or her job will be able to make a declaration of immediate availability without the need to register with the employment lists.

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