Italian government announces the number of foreign workers allowed in Italy for 2019

Italian government has announced a cap of 30.850 on the number of workers from outside the EEA allowed in Italy for 2019. The decree, dated March 12, has been published on the Official Gazette of April 9.

The figure and the categories of workers allowed this year are not so different from those announced in the last years. Once again, no quotas for standard sponsored employment have been issued (apart from a few exceptions below).

More than half quotas are reserved to entries for seasonal work (18.000); the majority of remaining quotas are reserved to permit conversion (9.850) for foreign citizens already in possession of a residence permit in Italy or EU (study, seasonal work, permanent) intending to change status i.e. to convert the existing permit into a permit for employment/self-employment.

The remaining part – few quotas – are for self-employment work (2.400) and special categories (600) of foreigners (such as South American citizens with Italian ancestors or individuals who have completed a specific training in their country of residence).


Immigration for work purposes in Italy is based on a quota-system which is fixed annually by means of a Decree - the so-called "decreto-flussi". The decree sets the numerical limits for each category of foreign nationals allowed to apply for a work permit and the period during which applications can be submitted. Permits are normally granted on a first come, first served basis.

Several categories of workers are excluded from the cap and are not subject to a fixed limit, such as ICT assignments, highly skilled, executives or managerial employees assigned to the Italian branch of a foreign legal entity, university lecturers and professors, translators and interpreters, professional nurses, etc.

Applications for permit conversion and permits reserved to special categories of foreigners can be submitted starting from 9am on April 16th  while Seasonal work permit applications can be submitted starting from 9am on April 24th. Additional guidelines will be issued by means of a joint circular letter in the next days

Quota categories

The 30.850 quotas are to be allocated amongst the following categories:


  • 18.000 quotas Seasonal Work. Limited to:
    • Agriculture; hospitality and tourism industry 
    • the following nationalities. Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Philippines, Gambia, Ghana, Japan, India, Kosovo, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Ukraine, Tunisia
    • Within the quota of 18,000 units, 2000 entries are reserved to workers that have already worked as seasonal employees at least once in the previous 5 years and whose employers apply for a multi-year permit. For these, no nationality restrictions apply 
  • 500 quotas (subordinate work - work as an employee). For foreign nationals resident abroad who have completed an educational/training program in their home country (pursuant to Art. 23 of Immigration Law) 
  • 100 quotas (employee/self-employee). For employed or self-employed work. Reserved to foreign nationals who have Italian ancestry and reside in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela or Brazil 
  • 2,400 quotas for self-employment 
    • entrepreneurs intending to implement an investment plan of interest for the Italian economy, involving an investment of at least € 500.000 and creating at least 3 new jobs in Italy
    • Freelancers/independent contractors who intend to practice: regulated or controlled professions (i.e. individuals belonging to a professional association or enrolled with an official/public register) OR professions that are not non-regulated but are considered representative at national level and included in the lists edited by the Public Administration
    • Holders of corporate offices or administrative/controlling positions (any of the following: Chairman, CEO, Member of board of directors, Auditor) in an Italian company, active since at least 3 years (requirements set in Visa Decree May 11, 2011 n.850)
    • Foreign citizens who intend set up innovative start-up companies, under certain conditions and who will have a self-employment relationship with the start-up 
    • internationally well-known and highest repute artists, artists of recognised high professional qualification or artists who are hired by well-known Italian theatres, important public institutions, public television or well-known national private televisions (requirements set in Visa Decree May 11, 2011 n.850)


  • 4750 quotas - from seasonal to standard work permit. For conversions of seasonal work permit to standard, non-seasonal work permit (as an employee)
  • 3500 quotas from study to employed work. For conversion of study, internship and/or vocational training residence permit into residence permit for work (as an employee)
  • 700 quotas from study to self-employment. For conversion of study, internship and/or vocational training residence permit into residence permit for self-employment  
  • 800 quotas. For holders of an EU residence permit for long-term residents issued by a Member State other than Italy who wish to apply for a residence permit for work (as an employee) in Italy
  • 100 quotas. For holders of an EU residence permit for long-term residents issued by a Member State other than Italy who wish to apply for a residence permit for self-employment in Italy

Employers should evaluate their need for work permits for non-EU nationals, especially if intending to hire foreign nationals holding a study, internship and/or vocational training residence permit or permanent residents of an EU country.

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