Some of our audience have asked us how to apply for seasonal work in Europe via regular routes. Here’s what you need to know about applying to work in Italy.
Seasonal work can take different forms in different countries, but many of the seasonal work visas available in Europe are linked to the agricultural sector.
Most seasonal work visas are only available for a certain period in the year, perhaps to cover the harvest, or to cover food processing for a specific period — like Christmas time in the poultry sector, for example.
Generally, a seasonal visa doesn’t allow applicants to work in other jobs at the same time or before or after their period in the country. They also typically require visa holders to arrive in Europe shortly before the job is due to start and leave shortly after it ends.
Although you probably won’t be able to work at another job, some countries allow applicants to study or undertake training programs alongside their work. Make sure you check the specifics of your visa and country before you apply for a course.
For Italy, here are the most important things for seasonal work visa applicants to know.
At a glance
- Most visas in Italy last between nine months and up to two years, but this will depend on the job, the employer and the sector so check the rules and make sure you don’t overstay on your visa.
- If you enter Italy under a ‘decreto flussi‘, if you are still employed at the end of your visa, you should be able to renew it, but check the rules.
- To apply for a seasonal work visa, you must have authorization to work from between 20 days and up to nine months. Once you have your work contract, you will be issued with a stay permit for the duration indicated on the visa.
- This is a portal provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where you can check whether you are eligible for a visa (depending on nationality, your reason for entering Italy and how long you intend to stay).
How seasonal work is announced
- The Italian government publishes a decree each year usually sometime between January and March, often after being announced at the end of December the previous year. They are published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale of the government and normally linked on the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Work websites. The decree announces how many seasonal visas / working visas it is offering for that year. Many of these are linked to sectors in which the country needs help, typically agricultural and care work, but it can be in other sectors too.
- The ‘Decreto Flussi’, as it is known, is normally published by March at the latest for each calender year and you can in theory apply for jobs for that year’s quota up until December 31 of the calender year. Once it has been announced, you can find details about it on the Ministry of the Interior (Ministero dell’Interno) website.
- Some years, additions are added in late spring / early summer, when certain sectors make a case to the government showing they need more workers.
- But be aware, some years the Italian government has announced that it has filled its quotas within hours or days of the decree being announced.
Also read: Albert’s tale, from migrant worker to entrepreneur
How many permits are usually issued?
- In 2023, a total of 82,705 work permits for non-Europeans have been announced. This includes seasonal and non-seasonal work. 38,705 work permits were allocated to those being employed (lavoro subordinato), 500 visas for those who are self-employed (lavoro autonomo) and 44,000 visas for seasonal work (lavoro stagionato).
- Most of the seasonal employment is for the agricultural and tourism and hotel sectors and applies to people from specific countries.
- There is a special category of work permits (1,000) for those who have completed Ministry of Labor and Education training and education programs abroad with the intention of coming to Italy.
- Included in the 2023 declaration are permits for people applying for jobs as logistics drivers, building, tourism and hotels, telecommunication, mechanics, shipbuilding and food production.
Where to look for a job
- There are lots of different job search portals for Italy. Try EURES and then click on jobseekers and Italy for current jobs on offer, these mostly require skills and qualifications.
- Infojobs also has jobs listed across the country
- Indeed is another jobs portal where you can choose by profession and region in Italy.
- Glassdoor lists English speaking jobs in Italy
- Monster also lists jobs and allows candidates to upload their CV.
**InfoMigrants is not responsible for any jobs listed on these websites, you must look carefully at the conditions advertised and read the sites carefully to make sure you don’t use services that are charged without being aware of how much you might have to pay.
- Nationals from the following countries are eligible to apply for work permits: Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kosovo, Mali, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of North Macedonia, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia and Ukraine.
- You must be a non-EU citizen
- You have to have a job offer in Italy
- You need a valid passport
- You must have no criminal record
- You need to be able to speak Italian
- You must have sufficient money to support yourself in Italy
- According to the EU Immigration portal, visas cost around €116. Residence permits cost around €40 for stays between three and 12 months and €50 for stays between 12 and 24 months. A long-term residence permit costs around €100, this is often for skilled workers. In addition expect to pay around €30 administrative fees for the application and certified postal kit, €16 for an official stamp (Francobollo) and €30.46 for insurance.
- Note: You cannot bring family members on a seasonal work visa and you cannot apply for long-term residence via one.
How to apply – and what you need to do it
- Once you have a job offer you can apply online, or via the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.
- For online applications: The Sportello Unico Immigrazione (Immigration counter) in each Prefettura (Prefecture /Police HQ under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry) is where you apply. Through this counter, you can apply online.
- There you will have to fill out forms and attach all the documents requested. This year for instance, those who applied for the Decreto Flussi 2022, would have had their applications processed from 9am on March 27 2023, so called “click day” (cd).
- Be aware that to apply for many official things in Italy you will need a PEC, a secure or certified E-mail address which has a legal status. All Italian citizens can request one, whether they are resident in Italy or not. In addition, European and non-European adults can request them but often they ask for a residential address in Italy. Many PEC providers require a payment. This is NOT a normal e-mail address and it can make it difficult to qualify for official Italian processes if you don’t have one. Here is a list of the providers of PEC in Italy: https://www.agid.gov.it/index.php/it/piattaforme/posta-elettronica-certificata/elenco-gestori-pec **you will need a valid identification document to request this form and many providers require that you are resident in Italy too. The Italian Post Office Poste Italiane offers subscriptions from just over €5 for a year. Some providers might offer a free trial period, but check the terms and conditions to make sure that you won’t incur higher fees if you fail to cancel before the end of the period. Also, often in Italy you need a PEC to cancel an official subscription!
- From March 27, 2023, the Italian government announced it was simplyfying the application process. They say now you need a SPID – Public Digital Identify System to apply for a visa or work permit. If you want to activate a SPID, you need to be 18 years old and have a valid Italian identification document (that includes a social security card – Tessera Sanitaria or a tax code – codice fiscale, both of which you will need to legally live and work in Italy). In addition you will need an email address and a mobile telephone number. You need to register on the site of a digital identity provider which is authorized and supervised by AgiD. Here is a list.
- If you are not already in Italy, you will need to verify your identity via an online service and choose a provider that has the world icon or EU icon if you are already in Europe, so that you can verify online via webcam. **Be aware some of these providers charge for their services. According to the SPID website, you can activate your SPID identity free of charge at a public administration office. Here is a list of offices that might be near you. **You cannot request a SPID with your Permesso di Soggiorno, you will need an identity card (Carta d’Identita) to do so.
- The website Noi Stranieri (Us Foreigners) has some useful information on both applying for a PEC as well as how to go about applying for different jobs. You can also contact them by phone or email and find them on several social media platforms. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter , Linkedin and Instagram
Email: [email protected]
Contact numbers: mobile +39 3200412540 landline: tel: +39 0622152364
Office address: Via delle Albizzie 27, 00172 Roma
Contactable from Monday to Friday between 10-13.00 and 15.00-17.00
Converting existing permits
- According to the Ministry of Work, it is possible to convert a permesso di soggiorno (stay permit) into a work permit if you have a job offer and meet all other requirements. You can apply for the conversion via the Sportello Unico, taking your proposed work contract signed by your employer. You can find forms for this application at www.lavoro.gov.it and www.interno.gov.it
- You can also convert a seasonal work permit into a more general work permit if you have worked for three months of regular seasonal work and meet all the other requirements. (You will need your new proposed work contract, and your employer will need to be inspected and you will have needed to have paid all the taxes and charges required in Italy for the duration of your seasonal work, as will your employer). If you have been working in agricultural seasonal work, which is often paid by the day, you will need to show that you have been paying the correct contributions for at least 13 days per month for at least three consecutive months to qualify.
- Starting in 2021, the Ministry of Work allowed several food and agricultural agencies and federations to help manage around half of the issued quotas and applications for seasonal agricultural work. These include: Cia, Coldiretti, Confagricoltura, Copagri, Alleanza delle cooperative –Lega cooperative e Confcooperative)
Unions and services
- The CGIL – Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, the biggest Italian union has a page on immigration. Local branches of CGIL representatives can often help inform you of your rights and also sometimes how to apply for forms and jobs so that you are protected while working in Italy. Other unions CISL and UIL are included under this umbrella.
- According to CGIL, in an article written in April 2023, the decreto flussi is only covering about a third of the needs of employers for seasonal workers in Italy. The unions have called for migrant workers to enter Italy to look for work and also to extend the granting of work permits to migrants already in Italy who might not have the required legal papers.
- Under the CGIL banner is also FILCAMS – Federazione Italiana dei Lavoratori del Commercio Turismo Servizi, representing those who work in the tourism sector including those who undertake seasonal work.
- CGIL has a ‘Sportello Immigrati’ a special counter for migrant workers. They are present in most of the local and regional CGIL branches throughout Italy. They offer free help and advice. Click here for more information.
- ANPAL -Agenzia Nazionale Politiche Attive del Lavoro (National Agency for Active work policies) helps coordinate working policies in Italy and also provides links for people looking for work in Italy. It also provides supports for employees and employers operating in the public and private sector.
- INL – Ispettorato Nazionale del Lavoro – National Inspectorate for Work makes sure employers and companies conform to Italian and European law and respect the rights and safety of those they employ.
- INAIL – Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione Contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro (National Institute for Insurance against workplace accidents) provides safety and prevention training, insurance and help in the case of accidents in the workplace.
- INPS – Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (National Institute for social welfare) is Italy’s social welfare system. You need to pay in to it to get your pension and welfare payments and it can help you if you become unemployed or need welfare help.
Know your rights
- The European Labour Authority has a campaign for all countries in Europe called “Rights for All Seasons” to help seasonal workers know their rights.
- This reminds workers in all EU countries that you are:
- Entitled to safe and healthy working conditions
- That during the course of your work you might be exposed to risks, like working with machinery or animals, repetitive movements, awkward postures, working in hot or cold temperatures, skin contact with hazardous liquids or breathing in dust and fumes. However, your employer must inform you about the nature of your work and risks, and provide you with clear instruction and training in a language you understand before carrying out your job.
- Some of these risks, states the ELA, could lead to serious injuries and health problems, even fatal illnesses like cancer. But it is the employer’s responsibilitiy to put in place measures to stop you being exposed to these risks.
- If your employer ignores your questions or complaints, or threatens you or forces you to do something unsafe or harmful to your health then you should contact the national authorities, police or local unions for help.
- The Italian government published a website in 2021 on which they wrote an article about the rights for migrant workers in Italy.
- In it they make clear that migrant workers have the SAME RIGHTS as Italian workers. That there is equality between men and women and that all workers have the right to safety and good health practices at work. There should be no discrimination, and you should get paid fairly and properly in relation to the hours worked. You have a right to rest and to have a good work-life balance. You can also be a union member.
- When you are recruited, your employer is not allowed to ask about your political or religious opinons, whether or not your are pregnant or whether or not you are HIV+, they are also not allowed to ask about whether you are married, or whether or not you intend to have children.
- A normal working week in Italy is fixed at 40 hours. You are allowed to do overtime, but this should still be within the health and safety norms.
- A worker has the right to 11 hours of rest in every 24 hour period and should have at least one day off every seven days.
- If you are working full-time then you have the right to at least four weeks of paid holiday leave per year.
- You are being exploited when you are being paid less than the national standards, or much less than you should be for the hours you worked. Also, when you are asked to do overtime repeatedly and you are denied your weekly day off, or paid holidays. You are also being exploited if you are not given paid sick leave.
- If an employer repeatedly puts your safety or health in danger at your place of work you are being exploited.
- If your employer is using “degrading methods” to surveille you at work then this could be considered exploitation.
Numbers to call
- If you think you are being exploited you can call a free number in Italy numero verde nazionale antitratta 800290290 and it is active 24 hours a day. Operators can speak English, Spanish, Albanian, Romanian, Russian, Moldavan, Ucrainian, some Nigerian languages (unspecified which ones), Chinese, Polish, Portuguese and Arabic. More information on their website: https://osservatoriointerventitratta.it
- There is another helpdesk, active between 09.30 and 18.30 on Mondays to Fridays. Here, services are offered in English, French, Arabic, Pidgin, Edo from Benin; Wolof; Mandingo, Fula, Pular and several other languages on request). This service can help direct you to help if you believe you are being exploited by your employer or the Italian gangmaster (caporalato) system. There is a scheme running across the southern regions to help workers exit from exploitation. These regions are where this kind of exploitation is most common due to the high presence of mafia-like groups employing migrant workers in these areas.
Also read: Julian’s tale, child labor and exploitation in Italy’s greenhouses