Figuring out the right visa to move to Italy can be overwhelming if you're doing it alone, and if you make the wrong call, you could end up losing money and staying stuck in your home country.
That's what's happening to some people who are being told to apply for the Elective Residency visa. If an immigration attorney is encouraging you to apply for this visa and you're not yet retired, read on.
What is the Elective Residency Visa?
The Elective Residency visa is a long-term visa for people who do not intend to work once they arrive in Italy. Typically these individuals are retired or generate passive income from sources like capital gains, dividends, retirement pensions, royalties, or rental property.
While this is ideal for someone who is retired, there are immigration attorneys who are encouraging people who still work (perhaps freelance) to apply for this visa...and they're being denied.
Problem 1: You Can't Work
Some of these attorneys ignore clients when they tell them that they will continue to work once they live in Italy. They focus on the bare requirement (€31k a year in passive income sources) and don't address what will happen once the individual arrives in Italy and is ready to work.
An attorney in Rome told a client of mine that it is possible to verify that you're working (I'm not sure how, but I wouldn't risk it), so if you are caught working on an Elective Residency visa, you might be asked to leave the country.
Problem 2: You May Have to Prove Your Retirement
I'm unable to verify this information, but a client told me that the consulate in LA wanted proof that she had been retired for at least six months. Requirements for visas sometimes vary from one consulate to another, so this is possible. And if there is a flood of non-retired people trying to get to Italy on the Elective Residency visa, I can see that they might require proof.
That Being Said...There's Always a Way
Look, I'm not an attorney nor an immigration expert. Some people are successfully arriving on the Elective Residency visa despite not being retired. But after speaking with a client who lost $5,000 in this process, as well as many months, I wouldn't recommend risking it.
I've been told that it is possible to convert an Elective Residency visa to an employment residence permit once you arrive, but again, there's no guarantee.
So if you're being told that you can apply for the Elective Residency visa, get a second opinion. Early in my hunt for an immigration attorney, I was told the same thing: that I should apply for the Elective Residency visa. When I asked questions about how I could work, the attorney waved me away and gave me vague answers. Thank goodness I reached out to another attorney, who was horrified that I was told I was eligible for the ER visa. He said it was illegal to apply for it.
Again, make your own decision. Decide how much risk you're willing to take on. But please, talk to more than one immigration specialist to get a better understanding of what you can expect.