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'No Italian, no permit' Italy tells migrants

Language test obligatory for non-EU workers from next week

29 November, 15:54
'No Italian, no permit' Italy tells migrants (ANSA) - Rome, November 29 - Migrant workers wanting to live in Italy will have to prove they can understand Italian before being able to apply for a residence permit as of next week.

On Thursday December 9 a government decree approved in June will come into force making it obligatory for non-European Union migrants to take a test of their language skills before starting the permit procedure.

Applicants must get 80% of their answers right in a test of their comprehension of short texts and expressions. Migrants will be called to sit the test - performed on a computer or, on request, in writing - within 60 days of making a request via the interior ministry's site at

Applicants who fail the test can re-sit it and some categories are exempt.

These include people with recognized certificates of their Italian language skills, university researchers and people who have come to work in Italy in high-ranking management positions.

The new test comes into force as Italy prepares to introduce a new points-based residence-permit system next year in a bid to help the integration of young non-European Union citizens wanting to live here.

The new procedure, which resembles the points systems for long-term residence of Canada and the United States, will come into force in January for applicants aged 16 to 25.

With this system a migrant's first permit can only be issued after the signing of a commitment to a charter of values of good citizenship and integration.

This permit is valid for two years and starts with 16 points.

To make it permanent the migrant must try to take their score up to 30 before it elapses.

They can achieve this by doing a number of things, including attending vocational training courses, signing contracts to rent or buy accommodation, doing voluntary work and registering with the national health service.

Migrants lose points though if, for example, they skip one or both of the free civic formation courses they are requested to attend within a month of getting the first permit.

Points are also deducted if permit-holders are found guilty of crimes or tax offences.

If a holder loses all their points, the authorities will be able to expel them from the country.

People who fail to lift their score up to 30 points within the two years, meanwhile, can seek to have their permit extended to give them more time to cross the threshold.

''It's a pro-integration policy that has no rivals in Europe,'' Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said earlier this year.

''We have produced a system of rules that enables those who want to come to Italy and respect the law to follow an excellent path of integration''.

Victims of violence and people with handicaps that limit their ability to learn the language and Italy's culture are exempt from the points-system requirements.

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