• Rank: 13 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 59
  • HEALTH 65

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • A country of net immigration since mid-1970s, with mostly non-EU citizens settling long-term, fewer newcomers since the crisis, and a growing 2nd generation born in IT
  • Non-EU citizens are generally medium educated: 1 out of 2 has a secondary school or univesity degree
  • Main reasons for migration are family reunion and work: Former labour migrants settling long-term and reuniting with families
  • Asylum and irregular arrivals by boat continue and are growing in early 2015
  • Large majority with positive attitudes towards immigrants and vocal anti-immigrant minority in IT, similar to the average EU/OECD country
  • 2008-2011 right-wing coalition replaced by technocratic government and in 2013 by centre-left coalition

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

The 2007 MIPEX found that IT's integration policies were some of the best among Europe’s major countries of immigration. While the following conservative government made statements recognising MIPEX as an assessment tool, their restrictions (e.g. 2009 Security Law) made IT's score drop by 3 points in 2010 and lose their place in the ranking to ES, given that country's continued commitment to integration despite the crisis. Immigrants were presented as responsible for general social problems, with debatable statistics and without evaluations of policies’ impact on integration. The current government brought IT's score up 1 point in 2013/2014 by opening public sector jobs to long-term residents and opening this status to beneficiaries of international protection, as part of their respect of EU law.

Conclusions and recommendations

Although IT's integration policies have not changed much over the past 10 years, the reality of its immigrants have changed as many are settling in IT, with immigration now a permanent part of IT society. Former labour and regularised migrants are now settling and newcomer adults and children are coming for more long-term reasons, namely family reunion and humanitarian reasons. This previously 'new' country of immigration is now home to most of its non-EU citizens.

Reviewing IT's policies in 8 areas, the conditions are only halfway favourable for integration, with IT ranking 13th, behind PT/ES and recently DE. IT has achieved the 1st step towards legal integration and equal rights, but now the harder 2nd step remains to achieve equal opportunities in practice. Thanks to legal labour market access for labour and regularised migrants, most of the long-settled have found jobs, but often below the level of their qualification or basic needs and without accessing education and training. IT's 'family-friendly' policy welcomed most families of legal residents who use their right to family reunion. Now, these spouses may need targeted labour market support, while their children need both support and recognition through school and citizenship. Most non-EU citizens have taken the 1st step of becoming long-term residents, but not the final step of becoming full IT citizens, due to its restrictive, discretionary and bureaucratic paths to citizenship. 
Because of IT's young anti-discrimination laws and weak equality policies and body, most potential victims of discrimination have not even taken the 1st step towards justice. This 2nd step requires legislative reform as well as new thinking, policies and funding. Good practice often at local/regional level needs to be upscaled across the country and evidence-based through a new scientific approach using pilots, experiments and evaluations.

Policy Recommendations from ISMU, Institute for the Study of Multi-ethnicity

  • Increase employment rates through on-the-job training and support, specifically for youth
  • Remedy IT's widespread problem of 'over-qualification' so that educated immigrant workers find jobs matching their expectations and avoiding the unproductive waste of their skills and expertise
  • Combat early school leaving through early prevention: target support at pupils from disadvantaged families, support intercultural education and provide training and professional support to school teachers and staff
  • Build a sense of trust among non-EU residents' towards Italian public authorities, who must do more to counter racial/ethnic and religious discrimination


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Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Under IT's slightly favourable policies, most non-EU citizens do find basic jobs over time, but rarely find training or quality employment 

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Around 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens are not in employment, education or training in IT, just like the average European country, according to 2011/2 estimates. Women are 2.5 times as likely to be in this situation than men, which is one of the largest gender gaps in Europe. Only 15-20% of high- or low-educated men are not in employment, education or training, whereas this rate rises to 1/3 to 1/2 of high- or low-educated women.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

IT's policies are only slightly favourable for the long-term labour market integration of non-EU immigrants. 
Legal non-EU workers and their families are allowed to find jobs in the general labour market, with all its strengths and weaknesses, but without policies recognising or developing their professional skills. As in most new labour migration countries (CZ, PT, ES), citizens and legal migrant workers generally enjoy equal labour market access and rights. Targeted policies are then weak both to formally recognise their foreign qualifications and skills and to develop their professional skills, networks and work experience. IT's policies rank 14th out of the 38 on par with the US and slightly below the Western European average, ES and PT. Opening the public sector boosted this MIPEX score 2-points in 2013 (see box).

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • All non-EU residents with the right to work in IT can change jobs and sectors just like IT citizens, with IT ranked 5th (on par with PT, ES, CA, US and Nordics)
  • They enjoy better access to the labour market than immigrants in 30 other countries 
  • Inspired by EU law, changes since 2012 open labour market access for IT international students, high-skilled workers (Blue Card) and recently unemployed non-EU citizens (for 6m)
  • The public service is no longer fully losing out on the skills of long-term residents (see box, full access for all residents in 15 countries, e.g. ES, PT, CA, UK, US)

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Non-EU immigrants enjoy slightly favourable general support in IT, ranked 15th around the Western European average
  • Favourably, all non-EU legal residents and IT citizens should have equal access to education/training, study grants and public employment services in IT, as in other Southern European countries
  • Because of weak and unequal procedures, non-EU immigrants may not apply for a formal recognition of their foreign qualifications and skills
  • Procedures to recognise academic and professional qualifications are equal for long-term residents but not other non-EU citizens
  • Procedures to recognise professional skills are under-developed (see instead in EU the Benelux, Nordics, FR, DE, ES, UK)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • The lack of targeted support in IT may make it less likely that non-EU residents find secure legal jobs that use their qualifications and skills
  • Targeted support is relatively weak in IT and ranked 24th, on par with the US and weaker than the other traditional countries of immigration or on average for Western Europe (see instead PT, DE, Nordics) 
  • Non-EU immigrants can obtain general language training under the Integration Agreement and general information about employment and recognition services
  • Most leading Western European countries, including PT, provide job-specific language training and mentorship programmes, with specific policies for women and youth

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • Non-EU and IT workers are generally given the same rights to avoid competition and promote social integration
  • Non-EU workers have equal access to social benefits and, following the economic crisis and Decree 109/2012, the right to be unemployed in IT for 6 months 
  • The major exception to equal rights is the 2-year delay in access to housing benefits, under the 189/2002 Bossi-Fini law

Policy Box

Following European Law n. 97/2013, EU long-term residents, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can work as civil servants (e.g. teacher or municipal employee) under the same conditions of EU citizens. This change was inspired by EU immigration directives. Previously, exceptions were only made in special cases. For civil service jobs, knowledge of the IT language is required. The only limitations for EU and these non-EU citizens are jobs exercising public authority and safeguarding public interests (e.g. policemen and judges).

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Hardly any working-age non-EU citizens (5%) are accessing education and training in IT, according to 2011/2 estimates. This is the lowest uptake of education and training among European countries (average 17%), with IT alongside only GR, LV and SI. Uptake is marginally higher for high-educated men and women (7-9%) and just 3% for low-educated men and women. Overall, only a minority of unemployed non-EU citizens (28%) could count on the support of unemployment benefits. Gender gaps emerge for access to unemployment benefits: around 1/3 of non-EU men but just 1/5 of non-EU women. Compared to other new destinations affected by the crisis, access to unemployment benefits was greater in IT than in GR, but lower than in PT, ES and IE. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • Low employment rates (≤60%) and negative GDP growth in IT and across Southern Europe 
  • Most rigid employment protection legislation in IT and across Southern Europe 
  • Majority of recent migrants coming with temporary work permits in IT and other Southern European countries
  • Small minority of non-EU-born obtaining IT degrees

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

Despite IT's rigid labour market and the global economic crisis, labour market integration is still happening over time in IT. Among the long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' stay), high-educated men and women are just as likely to have a job as the high-educated IT-born, according to 2011/2 estimates. The low-educated are more likely to work than the low-educated IT-born, both for men (20% more likely) and women (60% more likely). As a result, the numbers in employment among the long-settled non-EU-born rise to 1/2 low-educated women and 3/4 of low-educated men, compared to 1/3 of low-educated IT-born women and 2/3 of IT-born men. 

The long-term challenge for integration in IT is not access to employment, but the quality of employment. Over-qualification levels and gaps are higher for long-settled non-EU immigrants in IT than in any other European country. 60% of high-educated workers are working in jobs below the level of their qualifications. That's 3.6 times the level for IT-born high-educated workers (16% are over-qualified). The levels and gaps are higher for both men and women in IT than in other Southern European countries. Among low-educated workers, the long-settled non-EU-born are 60% more likely to suffer from in-work poverty. This means that 1/4 receive wages and benefits that are below the level of their social needs. Their situation is similar to low-educated non-EU workers on average in Europe.

While the links between labour market integration policies and outcomes are difficult to establish, IT's open labour market may help non-EU immigrants find basic jobs. Its weak targeted support and recognition procedures are likely insufficient to help them secure quality jobs and develop their work-related skills in IT. International studies suggest that work-related language courses, recognition procedures, domestic degrees and work placements would be highly effective for labour market integration. The need for these policies is as great in IT as in the average European country.

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Non-EU families have been able to reunite in IT as in most European countries, but IT's 'family-friendly' policies are not friendly for all families; some of the most restrictive requirements may keep families separated given current economic and local realities in IT

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?

Transnational couples are one of the main potential beneficiaries for family reunion, but they are rarely identified through statistics and assisted to reunite. According to 2011/2 estimates, around 5% of non-EU citizen adults in IT were not living with their spouse or partner, a much higher level than among IT citizens. These non-EU citizens are likely living in internationally separated couples and thus potential sponsors for family reunion. This number of separated couples is similar to other Western European countries (e.g. GR, ES).

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU families have slightly favourable opportunities to reunite and integrate in IT, ranked 6th out of 38 alongside countries such as PT, ES, CA, NZ and SE. Most close family members can quickly apply to reunite with their sponsor and secure a stable status with near-equal rights. If authorities properly implement these procedures, families get secure residence and can work, study and participate in society. Since 2007, the previous right wing government significantly restricted these opportunities (-8 points) by imposing requirements that many non-EU families and even IT families could not meet, given the current economic crisis and local realities. As a result, non-EU families face more demanding requirements in IT than in 33 out of the 38 MIPEX countries.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility rules are still rather inclusive of non-EU families in IT, ranked 9th behind countries such as PT, SI, ES, NZ and SE
  • Sponsors with 1-year permits can immediately apply for an adult spouse, minor children and, for serious health reasons, their parents/grandparents or adult children
  • While laws largely reflect definitions of the IT family, government made it nearly impossible to sponsor parents, even with full financial support (possible in 9 others)
  • Despite IT citizens' dependence on immigrant carers, 160/2008 decree presents immigrants’ elderly parents as unwanted burdens on the welfare state
  • No option to reunite for same-sex partners, despite major recent international reform trends (see 26 countries and all IT's neighbours: AT, HR, FR, DE, MT, PT, SI, ES)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • IT's 2008/9 requirements are only halfway favourable for family reunion, given the current social and economic realities  
  • Put together, all of these requirements are more restrictive than in 33 countries (only AT, FR, CH and UK score below IT)
  • Like many IT citizens, non-EU newcomers find it as difficult to get housing and legal employment but they must meet high income and accommodation requirements to reunite their families
  • Under the Security Act, they need accommodation meeting general health standards and judged ‘suitable’ by town officials; The law aims for 2 goals at once: preventing people living in squalor could also slow family reunions
  • Administrative fees jumped in 2009 from 80€ to 200€, high by IT standards (120€ represents the median set fee in MIPEX countries)
  • Since the Integration Agreement in Decree 179/2011, all adult family members in IT should enjoy free courses and materials to learn A2-level IT fluency and basic facts about life in IT 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • If authorities properly implement the procedure, reuniting families should be secure in their status in IT, ranked 3rd alongside PT and ES
  • The procedure itself may be long 
  • Permits for family should be as long and renewable as their sponsor's in IT and 18 other countries
  • Authorities should consider all of the personal and family consequences if an application is rejected or permit withdrawn

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Reunited family members enjoy near-equal rights in IT as in other 'family-friendly' countries (e.g. CA, PT, ES, Northern Europe)
  • Adult family members enjoy equal socio-economic rights as their sponsor, as in the majority of countries
  • They can quickly become autonomous residents, with particular care for vulnerable groups (e.g. widowhood and separation)
  • Protections in IT could be stronger for victims of domestic violence (see AU, CA, NO, NZ, PT, ES)

Policy Box

Under the Integration Agreement regulation 179/2011, non-EU adult newcomers must commit to participate in free A2-level IT courses and an info session on life in IT. Authorities may not renew the permit of newcomers who do not complete the agreement. This policy was modeled on the FR Integration Agreement (CAI).

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

The number of family members reuniting with non-EU sponsors increased from around 60,000 in 2008 to 160,000 in 2010 and down to 90,000 in 2013. After 2010, IT replaced ES as the European country with the largest number of reuniting non-EU families. In 2013, these families made up 36% of new arrivals in IT. 600,000 family members of non-EU immigrants arrived in IT from 2008-2013, a slightly higher number than in ES or UK. Between 2008-2013, around half of these reuniting family members are spouses (mostly women), while around 1/3 are children and 20% are other family members. The numbers of spouses/children/others have fluctuated over these years. These newcomer families are very diverse, coming from all over the globe. 2/3 come from 10 major countries of origin (MO, CN, AL, IN, EG, LK, PH, PK, BD, UA).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Many newcomers recently settling down with family in IT and other Southern European countries
  • Most with eligible or long-term permits to sponsor in IT
  • Most from developing countries and thus more likely to reunite 

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU families reunite just as often in IT as they do in the average European country. IT's non-EU family reunion rate peaked in 2010 but remained around the EU average in most years from 2008 to 2013. For example, in 2012 and 2013, for every 100 non-EU residents in IT and the average EU country, only around 3 were newly arrived family members. These newly arrived families generally reflect the composition of IT's non-EU population. These comparative results suggest that family reunion tends to be higher and more equitable in countries with inclusive policies, such as IT, most Southern European countries, Nordic and Benelux countries. 


Key Findings

IT needs to invest in its growing diversity of pupils: make equal access and intercultural education a reality in all types of schools across the country

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

As family reunion continues, a growing number of pupils in IT are 1st generation foreign born (5.5%) or 2nd generation born in IT (2%), according to the 2012 OECD PISA survey of 15-year-olds. This share is on par with PT and slightly below other large new destinations, such as IE and ES. In 1992/93 foreign students enrolled into the Italian school system were 30 thousand, in 2013/14 they rise up to 800 thousand.

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

European education systems like IT have only started to adapt to the realities of a diverse classroom. The challenge is greatest in new large immigration countries with growing numbers of 1st and now 2nd generation pupils, such as IT, ranking 23rd out of 38, alongside the EU average. The needs of 'foreign' pupils are targeted but generally as a ‘problem group’ without individual attention to differences in needs (e.g. 1st vs. 2nd generation, late-arrivals, unaccompanied and refugee children). Moreover, all pupils in IT schools are not taught how to live together, except through ad hoc good practice and civil society projects. IT is missing a comprehensive integration policy at school.

Dimension 1: Access

  • Newcomer pupils receive little help to access all types of schools like IT citizens, with IT ranking 25th 
  • In IT as in most countries, migrants under age of 18, whatever their status, can access education and general support for disadvantaged pupils 
  • Newcomer pupils, especially older arrivals, risk being placed at the wrong level, with few measures to catch up (see instead AT, FR, PT, Nordics)
  • Schools are supposed to pay attention to immigrant pupils at risk of drop out and guide them to technical-vocational education
  • Undocumented pupils enrolled as children have difficulties to access higher education after age of 18, unlike in 16 other countries (e.g. FR, GR, PT, ES)

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • IT, like the average Western European country (ranked 15th), offers some slightly favourable measures to target immigrant pupils' needs 
  • Schools can use some statistics, information materials, targeted funding and teacher training on immigrants’ needs
  • Trainings are not required for teachers to teach the IT language to non-native speakers or handle diverse classrooms

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Schools in IT are rarely used as a common space for social integration, with measures on 'new opportunities' scoring only 10/100 and ranking 25th
  • The main guidance for schools, is to use cultural mediators to involve immigrant parents in schools and school-based IT courses
  • IT pupils are not encouraged to open up to immigrant peers, their languages and their cultures
  • Immigrant languages are absent from the curriculum, unlike in the majority of countries (e.g. AT, FR, PT, ES, CH)
  • Following abolition of the 30% quota on foreign pupils in classrooms, no new policy promotes mixed schools/classrooms or diversity in the teaching force (see initiatives in DE/CH, Nordics, AU/CA/NZ)

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Schools receive slightly weak support to make intercultural education a reality in IT, a problem in most European countries
  • Intercultural education is supposed to be taught to all pupils in specific subjects and across the curriculum
  • Guidelines, funding and monitoring for intercultural education are under-developed in IT (see instead Benelux, Nordics, PT, UK)
  • Schools have the discretion to decide whether and how to adapt the school day to reflect the diversity of their pupils

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

 The majority of low-literacy pupils, whatever their background, benefit from extra literacy courses in IT as well as PT, US and Nordic countries, according to 2012 OECD PISA data on 15-year-olds. Extra literacy courses are available for a slight majority of pupils obtaining low-PISA literacy scores, both for 1st and 2nd generation pupils as well as non-immigrant pupils. This targeted support may or may not be sufficient and effective to improve outcomes, especially for older arrivals among the 1st generation.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • 37% of 1st/2nd generation speak IT at home
  • 20% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 
  • % of GDP spent on education one of lowest in IT compared to other European countries
  • Student-teacher ratios relatively low in IT as in GR, PT 
  • Similar numbers of immigrant and non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

Around 1/3 of non-immigrant pupils in IT with low-educated mothers do not achieve basic proficiency in math. This level in IT is relatively high internationally on the 2012 OECD PISA study. The share of math low-achievers in IT rises to 51% among foreign-born pupils with low-educated mothers. The foreign-born are thus 2/3 more likely to be math low-achievers. From one generation to the next, this share drops to 43% (or 1/3 more likely than non-immigrant pupils). Large gaps still remain for the 2nd generation in IT, similar to other countries in Southern Europe (GR/ES/PT) and Western Europe (Nordics, DE-speaking, Benelux).

No systematic link emerges between targeted education policies and outcomes across countries. Targeted education policies may be too new, too weak, too late or too general for most pupils to benefit from them all across the country. Moreover, the general quality, investment and structure of the education system probably have a greater impact on the outcomes of immigrant and other disadvantaged pupils.


Key Findings

Regional best practices in migrant-rich Umbria and Emilia Romagna have not yet come together into a coherent migrant health policy across IT

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Healthcare entitlements in IT are slightly favourable to cover all migrant patients. Within IT's regionally-based health system, policies in migrant-rich areas, such as Umbria and Emilia Romagna, are slightly favourable to serve migrant patients, with these two regions scoring higher than 31 of the MIPEX countries. These regions go further than most other regions or countries to make services accessible and policies responsive to all patients, including immigrants. Policies are likely weaker in most other areas with both large and small immigrant communities.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Various categories of immigrants may encounter difficulties with documentation or discretion to access their favourable entitlements to healthcare coverage in IT, which ranks 6th on entitlements, alongside NZ, TU, JP and other Western European countries
  • All legal migrants and asylum-seekers have the right and duty to enroll in the National Health Service (SSN)
  • Migrants losing their status may lose access to care in many regions despite a 2012 agreement
  • Undocumented migrants should have equal access to all 'urgent and essential' care under the system of Temporarily Present Foreigners (STP)
  • Special exemptions exist in some regions (e.g. unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, mothers/babies, at-risk groups)
  • Documentation to access healthcare can be complicated for legal migrants and asylum seekers, while undocumented migrants are uncertain if they'll meet the exemptions or definitions of 'essential and urgent care' 

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Healthcare services are generally accessible for immigrant patients due to a combination of national and regional policies 
  • These policies are more favourable than in 33 of the MIPEX countries
  • At national and regional level, health services and immigrant patients are informed about entitlements, mostly through websites and online booklets for several groups and languages (e.g. 'Informa salute' and 'Health: a right for everyone') 
  • National law explicitly prohibits health services from reporting undocumented migrants except under very restrictive conditions that also apply to IT citizens
  • Targeted health promotion/education and cultural mediators are used to some extent in Umbria and Emilia Romagna

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Services are uneven across IT and within regions in how they respond to migrant patients' specific health needs 
  • Interpretation services are generally available in Umbria and Emilia-Romagna 
  • Uniform guidelines exist on specific health issues (e.g. FGM) but not on cultural competence, training or diversity among staff

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Wealth of national data and research could be used to support policy change on migrant health
  • Migrant health is mostly a priority for specialised health services, with only ad hoc consideration in general departments, other policies and migrant consultative bodies
  • National health ministry considers migrant health from time-to-time e.g. defunct Commission on Health and Immigration

Political Participation

Key Findings

IT becoming an ageing and shrinking democracy, with an estimated 2.7 million adults disenfranchised in elections, weak consultative bodies and, to date, low naturalisation rates 

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Around 2.7 million non-EU adults (aged 15+) are disenfranchised in IT in 2014. That's 5.4% of the adult population, one of the highest numbers and shares of disenfranchised citizens in Europe (3.5m or 5% in DE, see larger shares but smaller numbers in GR, AT, LV, CY).The number of new citizens with the right to vote is growing (more than 100,000 naturalisations in 2014).

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Political opportunities are not yet favourable for non-EU residents to participate in public life in IT (see instead AU/NZ, IE, PT, Nordics). While non-EU citizens can found, join and obtain funding for civil society and political parties, they are not allowed to vote and not consulted through strong consultative bodies across IT (see stronger approaches in Milan, Rome, Turin). Compared to IT, most other major destinations have facilitated naturalisation and/or expanded local democracy.

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Non-EU citizens cannot vote in local elections like EU citizens can, unlike in 21 MIPEX countries 
  • Government has not shown political will to adapt the constitution or remove their opt-out from Council of Europe Convention 144
  • Voting rights are hard to obtain but even harder to revote, with rights increasingly extended to long-term residents, sometimes limited to certain nationalities (see e.g. BE, LU, PT, ES, SI, CH)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • IT respects most basic political liberties of non-EU citizens, as do all other Western European countries 

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • At least Rome mainstreams immigrants into local politics (see box)
  • Other IT immigrant consultative bodies do not encourage meaningful participation, according to the MIPEX democratic standards
  • Authorities interfere in the selection of representatives, rarely consult them and give them superficial roles
  • A structural national integration forum of immigrant-run associations is missing in IT (see 13 other MIPEX countries, e.g. DE, PT, ES, CH)


Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Local, regional and national authorities provide some limited funding for non-EU immigrants' associations
  • Policies do not actively inform immigrants to become involved in immigrant-run associations or consultative bodies (see examples in Northwest Europe, NZ, PT)

Policy Box

Rome’s 2 consultative bodies have the potential to become models for other bodies at local, regional and national levels in IT and abroad. Non-EU nationals can run and elect Adjunct Counsellors, representing residents from Africa, Asia, America and Eastern Europe. They are part of the town council and make their own reports and recommendations, even if they cannot vote. Rome’s Consultative Body for Foreign Communities has 32 members, also freely elected without state intervention from the 30 largest communities.

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

With no voting rights and comparative low naturalisation rates for non-EU citizens (only 1/4 by 2011/2), IT emerges as one of the most exclusive democracies in the developed world, alongside countries such as CY, GR and AT. IT can only avoid becoming an ageing and shrinking democracy by facilitating naturalisation for the 1st and 2nd generation and/or expanding voting rights, at least at local level. 

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

Most non-EU citizens now call IT 'home', with an estimated 70% undertaking the path to EU long-term residence in IT, similar to most EU countries

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

Despite IT's reputation as a 'new' country of immigration, an estimated 90% of non-EU citizen men and women have lived there the 5+ years to qualify for long-term residence, according to 2011/2 estimates. By now, most non-EU citizens are settled in Europe's 'new' countries of immigration (e.g. GR, IE, PT, ES).

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

To become long-term residents with secure and near-equal rights, temporary residents undergo a similar procedure in IT as in the average Western European country. Ranks 12th (see instead ES, PT, Nordics). Under EU law, this path has become clearer and wider for temporary residents, including, since 2014, beneficiaries of international protection. Since 2011, applicants have received greater support to pass the IT language requirement, thanks to the entitlement to free courses under the Integration Agreement. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Eligibility for long-term residence was facilitated in 2014, but not yet for students, unlike in most European countries
  • 5 years' residence, with limited time abroad, is required for most temporary residents, including, as of 2014, all beneficiaries of international protection and their families (+13 points on eligibility due to EU law)
  • International students cannot apply or count any of their time, even though their obtaining a domestic degree significantly improves their long-term integration prospects (see instead facilitation in 28 other countries, e.g. AT, DE, PT, ES, CH)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The conditions for eligible residents to apply in IT are rather average for Western Europe
  • They must prove any basic legal income and pay an important fee (<160 euros in 20 other MIPEX countries)
  • The Integration Agreement provides slightly favourable support for immigrants to attain A2-level fluency and basic knowledge of life in IT, with guaranteed exemptions and enough free courses and materials (+7 on conditions)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Long-term residents are relatively secure in their status in IT, ranked 5th alongside PT/ES, HR/SI, FR
  • Applicants should quickly learn the outcome, with either the right to a permanent status or options to appeal
  • Long-term residents can still lose their status on several grounds, including serious crimes and absence from the EU for >1 year
  • Rejections and withdrawals must take personal circumstances into account and never lead to expulsions of minors

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Long-term residents can work, study and live in the country with the same social and economic rights as IT citizens, which is the norm in the vast majority of countries

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

As non-EU residents have settled in IT over the long-term, an increasing number have qualified and applied for long-term residence. Just as the number of non-EU immigrants rose several years ago in IT, now the number of long-term residents has grown in turn, from 716,217 in 2008 to 1 million in 2009 and to 2 million in 2012. 2,191,452 non-EU citizens were long-term residents in IT in 2013.

IT has the largest recorded number of EU long-term residents, who have the right to work and reside in other EU countries. They comprised 77% of the total number of long-term residents in IT. Nearly all long-term residents in IT now acquire the EU status; the number of EU long-term residents has grown consistently over the years, while the number under national long-term residents dropped significantly as of 2012.  The 2nd largest number of long-term residents in EU live in IT, which has one of the largest total and immigrant populations in Europe. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Vast majority of non-EU citizens with ≥5 years' residence
  • Very few residents with <1-year-permits potentially ineligible for long-term residence
  • Humanitarian/work migrants who reunite with family in IT are likely to settle long-term in IT/EU
  • Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in IT and other countries with currently restrictive naturalisation policies

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

70% of IT's non-EU citizens are estimated to be long-term residents as IT transforms into a country of long-settled immigrants. Similar majorities (2/3) exist in most major destinations (ES, FR, SE, UK). These long-term residents are generally representative of the non-EU immigrant population in IT in terms of age, gender and nationality. The share of long-term residents in IT is likely to grow higher and more equitable, as applications come from newly eligible beneficiaries of international protection (currently long-term residence is rare among e.g. AF, IQ, SD). 

The number of long-term residents strongly reflects countries' path to long-term residence and citizenship. All types of immigrants are likely to become long-term residents under inclusive residence policies and over time, but also more likely to move on and become citizens under inclusive citizenship policies. Countries that restrict naturalisation but facilitate long-term residence (as the 'second-class citizenship' alternative) end up with very high numbers of permanent resident foreigners (e.g. IT, ES, Central Europe).

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

Much-needed citizenship reform would significantly increase naturalisation rate and boost other integration outcomes

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

Already by 2011/2, an estimated 60% of the non-EU citizens in IT had lived there at least 10 years, long enough to become IT citizens. 17% of non-EU citizens were born in IT but not yet IT citizens, which is one of the largest shares in Europe, even among new countries of immigration. The 2011 census showed that the number of foreigners born in IT was 608,623, almost 3x higher than in 2001. 

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Immigrants in IT face a long and highly discretionary procedure to become secure IT citizens with dual nationality, while the IT-born are treated as foreigners for their entire childhood. Eligibility and conditions for nationality are generally more open in the other major old and new countries of immigration. IT is falling further behind on these trends on citizenship reform. Making this major symbolic step in its transformation from a country of emigration to immigration would increase naturalisation rates and likely boost new citizens' social and economic participation.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • IT and ES are the only major destination countries, where the wait for naturalisation is so long and inflexible, comparable only with AT and CH
  • 10 years' uninterrupted stay is the longest in Europe and the maximum allowed under European law (on average 7 flexible years)
  • The July 2009 Security Law restricted the traditionally liberal provisions for spouses of IT citizens, with the stated objective to fight sham marriages
  • The wait for the IT-born is 18 years; Children born or raised in the country have  earlier rights to citizenship in all other major destinations (see FR, DE, PT, UK)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The 1st generation face greater difficulties and unequal treatment with the discretionary naturalisation requirements in IT than in most other countries
  • Despite the country's economic crisis, future IT citizens must have an income for the previous 3 years, one of the most demanding levels of all countries
  • They must also go through an informal assessment by the police of their language skills and integration, without any public standards or sufficient support to pass (see instead DE, Nordics, pilots in FR)

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Applicants face one of the most discretionary and bureaucratic procedures to become citizens
  • IT lacks clear requirements, reasonable time limits and an entitlement to citizenship (see BE, NL, PL, PT, ES)
  • Successful applicants become equally secure in their citizenship as other IT citizens
  • Naturalised and IT-born citizens can only lose their status under certain conditions if they do military or civil service for another state. 

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • As a country with a large diaspora, IT already during the 1990s opened to dual nationality, which is now accepted in most other MIPEX countries.

Policy Box

A wide range of policymakers admit that the current citizenship policy does not work, especially for IT-born children who are kept in a precarious legal status dependent on their parents. Despite the efforts by NGO campaigns (L'Italia sono anch'io) and political leaders, the Italian parliament is still often side-tracked from the reform that they have discussed for decades. Naturalisation after 5 years (the most common period in MIPEX countries) would recognise the common links and future of all residents in a changing society. Automatic jus soli at birth would fight social exclusion of future generations (see DE, IE, PT, UK and traditional countries of immigration). In the meantime, local authorities are now required to inform the Italian-born turning 18 of their right to IT citizenship and to accept more flexible documentation of their residence, under Law 29/2013 on urgent measures for economic development. 

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

As IT's newcomers and second generation finally qualify for citizenship, this new country of immigration has seen an increase in annual naturalisations, from 13,000 in 2003 to around 60,000 from 2009-2012, 100,000 in 2013 and 110,000 in 2014. In 2012, approximately 60,000 non-EU citizens became IT citizens.  

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • Newcomers becoming eligible in new country of immigration
  • Many former labour migrants settling with family in IT
  • Most from less developed countries and thus likely to naturalise
  • Most from countries allowing dual nationality

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

IT's citizenship policies are the major factor delaying and deterring immigrants from becoming citizens. By 2011/2, only an estimated 1/4 non-EU-born adults have become IT citizens, which is relatively low in Europe, even for new countries of immigration. The majority are women who likely benefited from facilitated naturalisation through their Italian husbands. IT's annual naturalisation rates remain low.  It is still less common for non-EU citizen men and women to become citizens in Italy (only 1.8 out of 100) than in the average European country (3.4), including ES (2.9) and PT (6.4). Compared to other European countries, rates in IT are disproportionately low for elderly non-EU citizens over 65 and for certain nationalities.


Key Findings

Young anti-discrimination laws and weakest equality policies in developed world mean that few people in IT are aware of their rights and few potential victims are reporting racial, ethnic or religious discrimination

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

The level of racial/ethnic and religious discrimination in IT was slightly above the EU average in 2012 (4.2%). In IT, 5.3% of people felt that last year they had been discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (3.3%) and/or religion/beliefs (2%). These numbers are similar to several other Western European countries (e.g. AT, FR, UK).

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

IT's anti-discrimination laws are below average for Western Europe because victims of discrimination only get support from IT's weak equality body and policies, weaker than in all MIPEX countries, except JP and IS. Thanks to EU law (see box), victims of ethnic, racial, religious and nationality discrimination can use new concepts and slightly favourable mechanisms to enforce their rights in all areas of life. However, access to justice may be denied as equality policies score 36 points below the European average.

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • IT law does not yet provide full definitions of discrimination, with IT ranked 20th, slightly below average for Western Europe (see PT, BE, FI/SE, UK)
  • Wide range of public and private actors cannot discriminate in public life on grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or nationality in IT as in 21 other countries
  • Certain victims may not be covered by weak or missing definitions on discrimination based on association/assumed characteristics, multiple discrimination or racial profiling

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Victims of ethnic, racial, religious and nationality discrimination are protected in all areas of life in IT and 15 other MIPEX countries
  • Gaps on nationality discrimination may emerge for non-EU citizens depending on their legal status

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • IT's slightly favourable mechanisms to enforce the law are new and average compared to most countries, with IT ranking 14th
  • 2008 law improved law to EU standards; Now more victims are protected from harassment and victimisation, while they do not have to shoulder the whole burden of proof throughout the legal proceedings
  • Means-tested free legal aid and interpreters provided
  • Equality NGOs can engage in support or on behalf of victims
  • 2011 changes apply general fast-track procedures (no more special anti-discrimination action) and add option of civil actions to be defined

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • IT state has the weakest commitment to promote equality in the developed world, besides JP and IS
  • The State did create a diversity charter for business, similar to FR and DE, but has no positive duty to promote equality in its own actions
  • Stronger government offices and role to raise awareness and review legislation in 23 out of 38 countries
  • The Office for Racial Discrimination (UNAR) is not independent and strong enough to help victims access justice, as one of the weakest equality bodies in the developed world (alongside only JP, PL, ES)
  • UNAR is supposed to cover all grounds of discrimination since 2010/2 but not yet in law or name
  • Victims can request UNAR's help through contact centres with toll-free numbers in several languages
  • Among its weaknesses, UNAR cannot instigate or engage in proceedings or offer quasi-judicial alternatives to victims, unlike in a majority of countries (nearby see FR, PT, Central Europe)

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

The number of discrimination complaints to the equality body (UNAR) is the one available indicator of how often people report discrimination, given that other types of discrimination cases are not recorded by IT courts. In 2013, UNAR received just 812 requests for help from potential victims of discrimination based on racial/ethnic origin (784) or religion (28). This is a relatively small number of complaints for such a large country as IT (similarly low in DE, ES, PL).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • IT are some of the least likely in Europe to know their rights as victims of discrimination (only 31% in 2012)
  • Low levels of trust in police and justice system in IT and across Southern Europe
  • Large numbers in IT of newcomers and non-naturalised immigrants are less likely to report their complaints 

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Few complaints are made compared to the large number of people reportedly experiencing incidents of racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. Hardly any complaints seem to be made across Europe, especially in countries like IT with new anti-discrimination procedures and very weak equality bodies. Only about one potential victim reaches UNAR for help out of the estimated 3000+ potential victims of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. IT, like most countries, has not even taken the first steps to properly enforce and resource their anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee the same access to justice for potential discrimination victims as they do for victims of other crimes and illegal acts.



New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!