Italy Broadens its Borders to Foreign Investors


Competitiveness and attractiveness of Italian industry leads revamped economic growth of our Country.  Going on with its path aimed at attracting international flows of human and financial capital, Italy broadens its borders to foreign investors.


After the launch on June, 24th 2014 of the Italia Startup Visa (ISV) program, which facilitates the visa issue procedure for highly qualified non-EU entrepreneurs who intend to build up an innovative start-up in Italy, new measures have been introduced proving the purpose of making Italy increasingly attractive.


With this goal the Italian Government introduced the so-called “Investor Visa” program and the National Plan “Industria 4.0” which set aside more than EUR 20 billion to encourage investments in research and development, intangible assets, innovative machinery and equipment.


The experience of the Italia Startup Visa program has been extremely positive. Up to 1 December 2017, ISV has recorded 310 applications, 149 of which during 2017. Of these, 173 (55,8%) have received a positive evaluation from the Italia Startup Visa & Hub Technical Committee, resulting in a Certificate of No Impediment to the visa. Among the others, 123 applications (39,7%) were unsuccessful and 14 are still under evaluation. The average age of candidates, coming from 39 different countries, is 36 years and almost 90% of them have a degree.


Within this encouraging framework, Budget Law 2017 introduced a new program known as the “Investor Visa for Italy” which facilitates the visa issue procedure for nationals of non-EU member states or Schengen area countries who intend to make an investment or a donation in Italy.


The visa is only issued in certain circumstances, defined, for various reasons, as in the collective interest: EUR 2,000,000 investment in government bonds, an equity loan of at least EUR 1,000,000 to an Italian limited company, or EUR 500,000 in case of investment in innovative start-ups or a philanthropic donation of at least EUR 1,000,000 in key areas for the present and future of Italy (e.g. culture, research, protection of the environment, management of migratory flows).


The enactment of the program saw the light on 21 July 2017 with a specific decree followed by a “policy guidance” which set out the executive issues of the procedure.


Thanks to this document the Investor Visa is now a reality – reality built on three key words: centralization, digitalization and rapidity.



Author: Stefano Firpo, Director General for Industrial Policy Ministry of Economic Development, Italy

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