As a family member to an Italian citizen, you have a full right to enter and stay in Italy.
Depending on your nationality and current residence, you may need an entry visa.
The most important information is gathered here in 3 steps.
Are you eligible for the right of entry and stay in Italy?
You have such right if you can prove one of the following family relations:
- spouse (or same-sex registered partner)
- children and grandchildren (up to 21 years) of the Italian citizen and those of the spouse
- parents and grandparents of the Italian citizen and those of the spouse
- siblings of the Italian citizen
- uncles/aunts of the Italian citizen
If you are a national of a country listed for visa requirement to Italy/Europe, you need to apply at the closest Italian Consulate for a visa for family members (Visto d’ingresso per familiari di cittadini italiani). Such a visa clears your entry through the border checks upon arrival in Europe (more precisely, in the Schengen area).
The terms and requirements for this kind of visa are often not published on the Italian Consulate’s websites.
In general, the conditions are more favorable than any other visa, the process is free of charge and shorter. The documents to attach to the application may vary from Consulate to Consulate.
Documents to prepare your application:
In general, this is what the Italian Consulates require:
- application form filled in with your data (download here)
1 photo in ICAO format (4.0 x 3.5 cm, color photo with white background, taken within the last 6 months).
- Proof of family relation, e.g. official marriage record. The record must be in full format (i.e. including the names of the parents of each spouse or parents, for birth certificates), legalized/apostilled and translated into Italian. Marriage records must be issued less than 6 months before. That is a requirement, in case the Italian citizen did not register the concerned vital record in Italy as yet (at the municipality in which he is a resident or, if not residing in Italy, at the municipality of Rome);
- Invitation letter signed by the Italian citizen (Dichiarazione di ospitalità, download here)
your passport + 2 copies (the passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the planned departure date from the Schengen area and was issued less than 10 years before. Passport must have at least two blank and unmarked visa pages)
- Copy of the Italian citizen’s passport
- Copy of flight reservation: the reservation document must indicate the applicant’s name, departure city, and destination. In order to avoid any unnecessary expense, flight ticket confirmation can be done after visa issuance.
- Health care insurance: insurance must be valid for the whole Schengen area. It must cover medical fees, hospitalization and repatriation cost up to 30,000 euros. The insurance must fully cover the initial period of stay within the Schengen area.
- Letter of authorization for visa application/passport return (in case applicant does not submit the application in person). For those who choose to submit the application by a representative, it is mandatory to provide a letter of authorization, signed by the applicant, mentioning the name of the representative and his/her contacts. The representative ID must be shown and a copy of the ID must be submitted.
#3 The process
After submitting your application, you are entitled to obtain a visa within 90 days. This term might be extended one time to 30 more days.
Please note that, if your application wasn’t complete from the start, the Consulate can stay the process for all the time needed for you to give the missing document.
FAST TRACK: The process goes much faster when the Italian citizen has registered in Italy the document proving the relation. For example, if the Italian citizen has married or had a child outside of Italy, it is very important to register the marriage or birth record at the Italian Consulate (if the Italian citizen resided abroad) or in Italy (at the municipality of residence, office of Stato Civile).
Moreover: The right of residence in Italy
As a family member to an Italian citizen, you have a right to stay in Italy (and in other countries of Europe, in certain cases).
It is required to prove that you depend on the Italian citizen for your maintenance and to register your residence at the same address. In order to secure your residence in Italy, you are expected to apply for a residence permit or a residence card within 8 days from your arrival.
The family members within the 1st and 2nd degree (spouse, children up to 21 years, parents, grandparents and grandchildren) can obtain a five-year residence card. The other family members are entitled to obtain a two years residence card.
Both allow the family member to work/study and give access to full health care coverage on a par with Italian citizens. Both residence documents are renewable.
NOTE: residency for family members depend on the Italian citizen for their validity. Should the Italian citizen leave Italy, divorce the spouse, or die, the family member can lose the residence permit (although there are some safeguards).
There is a possibility to obtain an independent residence permit: in case the family member becomes financially independent (e.g. through employment or business), s/he can obtain an independent residence permit for work/business.