Question: I’m a foreign citizen living legally in Italy. I’d like to travel abroad. For how long can I stay away from Italy without losing the right to my Permit of Stay? Thanks.
Answer: Non-EU foreigners living legally in Italy can temporarily travel abroad but there are conditions they must meet if they don’t want to risk losing their permits.
First of all, it’s important to check how long your permit is valid.
According to Immigration Law, a Permit of Stay cannot be renewed if the holder has in an uninterrupted manner stayed away from Italy for a period exceeding six months. This is valid only for Permits of Stay which are valid for one year.
If you are a holder of a Permit of Stay valid for at least two years, then you can stay away from Italy for a period not exceeding half the validity period of your permit (about a year).
If you stay away for more than that period, then you can only renew your permit if that was due to serious and documented reasons such as hospitalization, rehabilitation or for military service.
A person who has stayed abroad for more than the allowed period can also renew their permit if they were forced to do so due to the spouse’s or first grade relative’s illness.
In any case, it will be important to preserve all documents proving why you were forced to stay abroad for a very long time. Those documents must be translated into Italian and legalized by the Italian Embassy/Consulate in the country that issued them.
If the Permit of Stay expires while the holder is abroad, it is still possible to re-enter Italy after applying for a re-entry visa at the Italian Embassy/Consulate in the country where the permit’s holder is.
This, however, is only possible if the Permit of Stay has expired for a period not exceeding 60 days. This rule is not applicable to a foreigner who is abroad for military service.
But in case one is abroad due to serious health problems, then they can apply for re-entry visa as long as their permit hasn’t expired for a period exceeding one year.
In order to apply for re-entry visa, one must submit the expired Permit of Stay to the Italian Embassy/Consulate, who will proceed with asking for authorization from the Provincial Police headquarters that issued the permit.
By Mascia Salvatore