Talks | 20.12.2019

Residence permit for volunteers

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Case: Ben is a 28 year old Canadian national from Vancouver who has recently obtained a bachelor degree in psychology from the University of British Columbia, he has always been an active volunteer and, as part of his learning process, he intends to temporarily move abroad in order to take part to a volunteer project that might help him acquire some useful on-the-field experience. Ben has heard of an ambitious project being implemented in one of Italy’s biggest rehabilitation centre, located in the outskirts of Milan, aimed at providing support and assistance to local youngsters, and he is interested in gathering all the information in order for him to move to Italy and live there for a period of his life.

Question: what are the options for Ben to obtain a visa and a residence permit for Italy that would allow him to temporarily move to Italy and take part to the volunteer project in Milan?

Solution: Considering that Ben is a Canadian citizen between 25 and 35 years old, he has recently graduated from college and he is willing to carry out volunteer activities in Italy, he might find particularly interesting and appealing for his case the Italian visa and residence permit for volunteers.

This particular residence permit is provided for by Italian Immigration Law by means of article 27 bis of Legislative Decree 286/98 and can be applied for by those third-country nationals who are between 25 and 35 years of age and are members of one of the following institutions, which shall be registered in Italy and enter into a specific agreement (convenzione) with the third-country national volunteer:

  • religious entities recognized in Italy;
  • NGOs recognized in Italy; and
  • other non-profit organizations active in social activities and recognized in Italy.

The maximum numerical cap of third-country nationals entitled to be admitted into the Italian territory as volunteers in any given year is established by the Italian Ministry of Labour and published by means of an annual Decree.

The procedure for the obtainment of the above-mentioned visa and residence permit starts with the submission to the Italian immigration authorities, by the Italian hosting institution, of a nominative request for the issuance of the necessary authorization (nulla osta). In order for the nulla osta to be duly issued, all the necessary documents provided by the law shall be filed, among which the most crucial are:

  1. copy of the agreement (convenzione) entered into by and between Ben and the Italian hosting entity, which shall contain all the details regarding the project Ben will take part to, the activities he will be carrying out in Italy and an accurate valuation of the necessary costs to be sustained in order to provide Ben with board and lodging and to meet his needs;
  2. declaration by means of which the Italian hosting instution undertakes to bear all the costs related to Ben’s stay in Italy and all the travel expenses;
  3. roundtrip airplane ticket;
  4. proof of the availability of an health insurance policy covering the risks connected with his stay in Italy for the entire duration of the same.

If the application for the nulla osta is approved, Ben will be entitled to apply for an entry visa for voluteers at the Italian Consulate in Vancouver.

After entering Italy with the visa on the passport, within 8 days following his entrance Ben shall file the application for the issuance of the Italian residence permit by appearing at the competent Immigration Office (Prefettura) and Police station (Questura) of the place where he will be residing while in Italy.

Since the residence permit is issued for the purpose of volunteering only, Ben will not be allowed to receive any remuneration for the activities performed for the Italian hosting insitution, with the only exception of the reimboursment of the expenses sustained, which shall be duly proved and fall within the limits expressly set out by the hosting entity.

Ben’s residence permit will have the same duration of the volunteer project he will take part to and, in any case, it cannot be longer than 18 months with no possibility for either a renewal or the conversion into another type of Italian residence permit. After the expiration of the residence permit, Ben will have to leave the country and go back to Canada.

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