In June 2014, the Italian Government introduced the Italia Startup Visa (ISV), a policy with the aim to attract innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world.
The ISV is a simplified, fast-track procedure to issue entry visas in favour to non-EU citizens, who wish to join the Italian start-up ecosystem in order to establish their innovative businesses.
The procedure is:
- fast-track: the granting of the visa is normally released within 30 days from the application submission;
- fully centralised: the applicant can communicate with the Italian public offices through a single contact point;
- digitised: the procedure takes place entirely online;
- bilingual: applications can be submitted both in Italian and in English;
- free-of-charge: no fees are required to apply.
The applicants must prove the availability of at least € 50,000, to be invested in new innovative start-ups. The funds may originate either from personal funds or from venture capital funds, corporations, and other third-party investments, including funds issued by Italian or foreign government and non-government agencies.
The visa can also be obtained by non-EU citizens intending to join an existing start-up, which must have been operational for at least three years.
The applications must meet the main following conditions:
- Applicants must prove a financial availability of at least € 100,000 arising from their own resources;
- They will cover one of the following positions: chairman / CEO / member of the board of directors / auditor;
- They will also work as self-employees for the company (i.e. independent consultant).
Applications are evaluated by the Italia Startup Visa Technical Committee, which is formed by the presidents (or their delegates) of five key associations of the Italian innovation ecosystem: PNICube representing university incubators, IBAN for business angels, AIFI for venture capital investors, APSTI for science and technology parks, and Netval for technology transfer offices.
As of 30th June 2019, ISV recorded 454 applications. Of these, 232 (51.1%) received a positive evaluation from the Italia Startup Visa Technical Committee; 171 applications (37.7%) were unsuccessful and 35 were withdrawn.
Regarding the unsuccessful applications, 72 were rejected due to the weakness of the proposed business models; the lack of innovative value of the proposed business models was the second reason for rejection, which applied to 61 cases.
Among the 232 individuals whose application was approved, 23 have changed their plans about moving to Italy. As a result, the start-up visa holders on the records are 209 as of 30th June 2019.
In addition to the individuals’ applications, the Italia Startup Visa programme accepts also joint applications submitted by entrepreneurial teams. As of 30th June 2019, 79 teams have sent an application, for a total of 206 additional individuals, representing 49.3% of all candidates. Successful team applications were 51 out of 79.
Considering the purpose of the applications, 74 candidates requested an Italia Startup Visa in order to join a company already established in Italy and registered as innovative start-up under the Italian Law.
For the definition of innovative start-up read: Innovative start-ups and SMEs: definition for the Italian law
The ISV Committee approved 48 applications out of 74. In all remaining cases, applications were submitted for creating a new innovative start-up in Italy.
If we look at the profile of the Italia Startup Visa applicant, in almost 69% of the cases applicants are male, with an average age of 36.8 years.
More than 43% of the candidates were entrepreneurs, whereas the majority of them (54%) were employees.
The most common professional backgrounds are IT (software development in particular), marketing, consulting, management, and engineering.
Applicants come from 49 different countries. The majority of applicants come from Russia (22% of the total). China follows, with 20.5% of total applicants, then United States (9%) and Pakistan (8.5%).
For more info on fiscal incentives for taxpayer moving to Italy read: Tax incentives for employees and taxpayers moving to Italy – Interview to Chiara Pirrone, Manager at EY
You can find more info on the Italia Startup Visa at the following link: http://italiastartupvisa.mise.gov.it
Guidelines for applications at this LINK
Webinars regarding Italia Startup Visa at this LINK (search for #ISVwebinars)
Detailed statistics on the Italia Startup Visa at this LINK
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