Aim: Obtaining a residence permit of Italy, a Schengen Area country
Challenge: Application rejection by Italian authorities
Solution: Obtaining a residence permit of another Schengen Area country to later relocate to Italy
Grigory K. bought real estate in a mountain region of Italy and invested in energy sector, fulfilling the requirements for obtaining a type-D visa and, ultimately, a residence permit in Italy. Notwithstanding, his application got rejected. Grigory narrates his story.
What are the potential difficulties an applicant for an Italian residence permit might experience?
Italy sees business ownership and proof of stable income as one of the grounds for issuing resident status, as well as foreign-sourced income transferred to an Italian bank account – that is, enough funds to support oneself, or a family. At the time of my filing of the application, the amount for family support was €8,000 a year per adult, and at least €4,500 for an underage child; today, the numbers are higher, up to €18,000 per person. In my case, it was necessary to have at least €21,000 in my bank account and pay all the necessary fees. But the business project I submitted for the Italian authorities to review was eventually considered not significant enough, and, as it was revealed later, the income level was lower than what was expected of a candidate.
How much time did the processing take?
An Italian Consulate reviewed the application for around 120 days, and the whole process took at least 6 months.
How many times was it necessary to come to the Consulate, and to Italy during the residence processing?
The applicant is expected to visit Italy at least three times at the stage of preparing the business project, and then, three more times to submit the documents via mail, submit fingerprints, and, eventually, get one’s hands on the residence permit. There are 1-2-month-long intervals between these stages.
Initially, did you consider other Schengen Area countries to obtain residence permit from?
Hadn’t thought about it, hadn’t imagined I would face any issues in Italy. I verified all my information in the Consulate, got in touch with a couple of local companies, and I was sure we had a 100% chance of success. That’s why I didn’t have any alternatives to Italy, I was sure of success.
Rejected by Italy, seeking for alternatives
Why did you make the decision to apply for another country’s residence status?
My two kids were then aged 16 and 7. As we were so sure we had the game in our hands, we enrolled them in a school, and my wife started learning Italian. Unfortunately, the Italian authorities didn’t allow us to finalize the procedure on formalistic grounds. We had three options before us: file an appeal, restart the process, or apply for another country’s residency. After much deliberation, we opted for the latter, seeing that we didn’t know if re-application would work, and there were time constraints, as our kids were about to start school. That is why we chose a country option with higher chances of succeeding.
Which residence programs were considered?
It was extremely important for us to have some guarantees this time, that is why we went through various government resident status-by-investment programs. We had our eye on a Hungarian program, but, at that time, it had been launched only recently, so we decided not to risk it. We finally set our sights on the Lithuanian residence through business investment, because I had already had a functioning firm there.
How much time did the processing take?
It took 2.5 months, from start to finish. We submitted documents for Italian residency as well.
How long did you reside in Italy with another Schengen Area country’s residence permit?
About 6 months, and then we received the Italian permits.
Did you face any difficulties in Italy with your Lithuania-issued residence permits?
There were no difficulties. Our kids were attending school, and nobody was interested in what were the origins of their permits. My wife and I bought a car, registered for the Italian language courses, opened bank accounts, and our Lithuanian permits were enough. This didn’t have any effect on business or taxation.
Had you known about all the setbacks associated with your first attempt at securing the status of an Italian resident, what would your actions be today?
I would have chosen a Golden Visa program, or a passport by investment program right from the start. You are obligated to stay in Italy if you want your status extended, and I have to travel often. While in Lithuania, the new immigration policy is just too intricate. I’d rather I had the kind of permit where it wasn’t obligatory to reside in the country on a permanent basis and check in with authorities yearly, or constantly travel there. Plus, you never are sure if they are going to renew your permit.
I also liked the Cypriot citizenship by investment program, but it wasn’t suitable for me for financial reasons.
You were simultaneously holding two Schengen residence permits, did you encounter any problems?
Neither in Italy nor in Europe were they interested in my dual status, not during issuance of documents, nor during the procedure for renewal. My lawyers provided some papers on the issue.
What is your current status?
My Italian residence permit is my third. We applied for the extension of our Lithuanian permits just once, before they had their immigration laws changed, and it became quite problematic to adhere to the residence renewal requirements.
- Is it possible to simultaneously hold residence permits of two or more Schengen Area countries?
The EU law does not impose restrictions on the number of EU residence permits issued to a single individual. In case the applicant already holds a residence permit of an EU country, they are expected to justify obtaining yet another one. One of our clients had residence permits issued by three EU countries – this fact was not concealed and even served as an advantage while applying for other EU countries’ residence permits.
- Is it possible for a non-EU national to stay in a Schengen Area country with a residence permit of another Schengen country?
As defined in the European Council Directive 2003/109/EC concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, one has the right to reside on a permanent basis in the country that has issued the permit, and stay for up to 90 days within the period of 6 months in any other Schengen Area countries.
Is this true in real life? Do a lot of people with residence permits issued by one Schengen country end up staying in another country within the Zone. How so?
- There are no borders within the zone;
- There is no accountability or deportation risk for this kind of practice.
NOTE! For employment purposes, the permit needs to be issued by and used in the country of employment. A European Union passport will also suit this purpose, being that the status of a citizen allows residence and work in any EU country. However, it is possible to manage business in the EU with any of the aforementioned statuses.
- While choosing out of the range of available/appealing residency programs, look for simple and clear requirements, speed of processing, and end result guarantees.
- Government-approved programs (residence by investment, sometimes Golden VIsa by investment) are a lot more effective than ordinary immigration procedures. The paperwork is easier, and the status is renewed through a straightforward procedure, sometimes even automatically. The chance of success is higher as well.
- Once you obtain a residence permit in a country that offers a simpler procedure, you may later apply for one in the intended country of destination. By the way, this combo lowers the risk of rejection – good to know if you’re planning to conquer Austria, Switzerland, Italy, etc., where they impose yearly quotas on the number of residence permits issued to foreign nationals.
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