Family reunification is an essential tool to allow family life, as it helps to create a socio-cultural stability that facilitates integration into the State, thus allowing the promotion of economic and social cohesion.
Family unity is a fundamental right recognized and protected by Italian law and which is fully recognized also for foreigners who wish to reunite with their families.
This right can be exercised by any foreign national to request reunification who is in possession of:
1. Resident permit for employment or self-employment work, with duration of not less than one year
2. Residence permits for political asylum
3. Residence permits for subsidiary protection
4. Residence permits for study reasons, or for religious reasons
5. Residence permits for family reasons
6. EC residence permits for long-term residents
7. Residence permits for waiting for citizenship.
WHO CAN BE INVITED FOR FAMILY UNIFICATION?
The following relatives can be invited for family reunification:
1. The spouse, who is at least 18 and not legally separated
2. Children under 18 years of age, including those born from another partner upon prior consent of the other parent
3. Dependent children aged over 18 who for objective reasons are not able to address their own basic needs;
4. Dependent parent provided that:
There are no other children in their country of origin or provenance. Or the children residing in their country of origin are not able to address their needs due to documented health issues. They are aged over 65 with proof of health insurance coverage when they arrive in Italy.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF FAMILY REUNIFICATION?
There are two ways to which you can unite with your family. The first one is called family reunion or Ricongiungimento familiare, and the second one is family cohesion or Coesione familiare.
FAMILY COHESION CASE
In this case, your family enters Italy with you under tourist visas and later they convert tourist visas into Permesso di Soggiorno’s. If your family didn’t arrive directly into Italy under tourist visas not directly (no Italian stamp in the passport, i.e. through another Schengen country) then you should get Dichiarazione di presenza from Questura. Later you would attach it to the application documents.
FAMILY REUNION CASE
The Ricongiungimento familiar involves applying for an entrance permit for your family (Nulla Osta) online. With this the family member can apply for a family visa in their home country. Italian long stay visa, which is also known as a national or D-visa, allows the holder to enter Italy with the purpose of remaining longer than three months and joining a family member already residing in Italy.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION?
In both cases you have to prove:
- Sufficient family income:
Financial requirements cannot be lower than the annual amount of the social allowance. The social allowance is a welfare provision put in place by the Italian legislator for elderly people with low income. Therefore, foreign nationals will be considered to have ‘sufficient resources’ available when their annual income is higher than the maximum income required to be entitled to social allowance. You must make at least € 5.830,76 a year and then have 50% of that amount for any family members who will join you in Italy. So, if your spouse and one child will join you, you must have €11,661.52.
PLEASE NOTE: The amount of the social allowance is established yearly and is subject to ISTAT revaluations.
- Suitable private housing:
Your private housing must be in line with hygienic requirements established by Italian law. You must also have a big enough apartment to accommodate all your family members.
The table below explains it a little better.
|Number of family members in the apartment||Minimum area required||Minimum number of bedrooms|
NOTE: The dimensions are meant as net floor area.
After which you would need to get a document called Idoneità abitativa from the commune where you live. The Idoneità abitativa or certificate of habitability is a certificate that demonstrates that the home you live in meets the requirements of the law for residential construction. The documents are related to the living conditions, energy efficiency, and a property plan. In most cases, the landlord or the real estate agent that rents the house is well aware of the documents required, so, just ask for them as early as possible.
In case of reunification in favor of only one child under 14, the municipal certificate can be replaced by a declaration of hospitality by the owner of the apartment. The applicant must also attach to the application a copy of the lease or loan agreement or ownership of the building, for a period of not less than six months, starting from the date of submission of the application.
It is not necessary to demonstrate possession of the appropriate housing requirements and income for refugees.
HOW DO I APPLY?
If all the above requirements are satisfied, it is possible to apply for family reunification by getting an authorization in Italy which allows them to join you. This is called a Nulla Osta and it is basically a clearance from the competent Italian authorities, allowing your family members to join you in Italy. You must apply for a Nulla Osta at an Italian Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico per l’immigrazione) or online by linking to the Ministry of the Interior address https://nullaostalavoro.interno.it. If the Immigration Desk issues the authorization, they will electronically forward it to the appropriate Italian embassy or consulate where your family members will submit the visa application.
The application for nulla osta must be submitted with all the documents attesting the applicant’s eligibility. The competent authority must issue the nulla osta or notify its rejection within 60 days from the application submission.
If, on the other hand, the request is rejected, against the refusal of the authorization, it is possible to appeal to the ordinary Court of the place of residence of the applicant regularly residing in Italy.
The Nulla Osta is valid for six months. Your family members must apply for an Italian Family Visa at their home country within this period.
Please note: In case you are bringing your parent/s to Italy:
Original copies of your birth certificate, proof your parent/s is dependent on you (such as money transfers), a written statement from your parent/s, declaring they are dependent on you. In the case in which the possession of the required conditions cannot be proved in a certain way through certificates issued by competent foreign authorities, or in any case of serious doubts on the authenticity of the above-mentioned documentation, the diplomatic or consular representations provide for the issue of certifications, on the basis of the DNA test and of necessary checks.
The application process for an Italian Family Visa goes as follows:
- Book a visa appointment at an Italian embassy or consulate in their country.
- Download and complete Italy Long-Stay Visa Application Form.
- Gather all the necessary documents. For example proof of family relationship, as applicable: Birth certificates for children and marriage certificate for your spouse duly legalized.
- When the date of the appointment comes, submit the application in person.
- Pay the Italian visa fee.
- Enter a visa interview.
- Wait for processing.
Once the foreign national has received the visa for family reunification and entered Italy, he/she must go to the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione within 8 days and present the following documents to the competent post office.
- An identity card;
- The completed postal-kit with the payment of tax issuance;
- A copy of the security clearance (Nulla Osta) to enter in Italy;
- A copy of their Visa;
- The whole passport.
The competent desk will issue a receipt with the data of the first appointment to the competent police Headquarters, for their personal appearance and the fingerprints. After this appointment, the police headquarters will contact them for the withdrawer of their electronic permit card.
The new comer should also go to the following offices to:
- Municipality (“Comune”) of residence to apply to be registered in the Civil State Registrar
- Azienda ASL (local sanitary district) to apply to be registered in the National Health Service ( to obtain the Health Card)
The procedure for issuance of the relative authorization is similar to the procedure for issuance of the authorization for family reunification. The application must be sent electronically to the Single Desk for Immigration, by means of the online procedure available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior. Before you travel to Italy, you must prepare all the required documents
1. Your marriage certificate OFFICIALLY translated into Italian AND legalized
2. The birth certificates of your children OFFICIALLY translated into Italian AND legalized
Official translations are made in the Italian Embassies or by authorized translators. The legalization can be done by the Italian Embassies or, if your home country has signed The Hague Agreement, with the “Apostille” stamp applied by the competent Ministry of your country both on the original and on the translation into Italian.
WITHOUT THIS DOCUMENTATION NO FAMILY COHESION WILL BE POSSIBLE AND YOUR FAMILY WILL HAVE TO GO BACK AT THE EXPIRY DATE OF THE TOURIST VISA (up to max 90 DAYS).
The foreign national residing in Italy with a residence permit for family reasons has access to assistance services, study courses or vocational training, job opportunities.
The duration of the permit is the same as the duration of the permit for the foreign national who has applied for family reunification and it is possible to renew it along with the latter.
Well, now you have more than a bit of information in case you are planning to bring your family to Italy either now or in the future. The process can be cumbersome for some; you may decide to employ the services of a migration lawyer, if you will.
I would like to hear from you: What are your thoughts on this subject. You can share your thoughts and experiences with me and others in the comments section below!
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