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Migrant Integration Governance in Italy

Italy was a country of large-scale emigration until the early-1970s. The first time the country registered more people entering the country than leaving it was in 1972. Yet, arrivals only started to significantly grow in the mid-1980s. The labour demand, especially in sectors such as domestic and personal care, agriculture, manufacturing and construction has been hypothesised to be a pull-factor.


Foreign population in Italy

On 1 January 2017, 3 536 142 Third Country Nationals (TCNs) were legally residing in Italy. They accounted for 6% of the total population.

Most came from Albania and Morocco. 2/3 were permanent residents. In 2016, out of the 226 934 new permits issued, 45% were for family reunification, 34% for humanitarian reasons and 8% for studies.



Besides foreign nationals, the number of “new Italians” has steadily increased over the past years. While data on the total stock of the naturalised population is not available, official annual data indicate that 129 887 foreign residents were naturalised in 2014, 178 035 in 2015 (+37%) and 201 591 in 2016 (+13%).

Integration Strategy

Immigration from the 1980s was initially managed through administrative regulations and bureaucratic discretion. Immigration laws mainly focused on the planning of foreign workers’ admissions. It was only during the mid-1990s that salience of the immigration issue led to an organic law to regulate migrants’ integration for the first time. The three-year Document of Migration Policy Planning (Documento Programmatico Triennale) was the first policy instrument. It identified key priorities and planned integration measures for the period 1998-2000.

The third Planning Document of 2005 was also the last national strategy aimed at integrating migrants and their descendants. Integration now largely falls under the competences of regional governments, which enjoy full autonomy in policy planning and implementation, resulting in a form of multilevel governance framework.

In 2017, the Italian government however adopted a two-year integration plan for asylum seekers and refugees. The plan prioritises interreligious and intercultural dialogue, language training, access to education, labour inclusion and vocational training. The main actors responsible for implementing the foreseen measures are local authorities and local public services, with the support of third sector organisations.

Integration Programme

Since 2012, newly arrived immigrants are obliged to sign the so-called Integration Agreement when they obtain their first residence permit. By doing so, they commit to achieve specific integration goals in the following two years. Achievement is determined through a credits system assessing sufficient knowledge of the Italian language (A2), Constitution, civic life and institutions.

☑ language course

☑ civic education

☑ vocational training

The fulfilment of integration goals is required for the renewal of permits. Several categories of migrants are however exempted from this requirement, either by law (victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors, disabled migrants) or de facto, since their permits cannot be withdrawn (beneficiaries of international or humanitarian protection, family migrants, long term residents, relatives of EU citizens).


No systematic evaluation of public integration policies is carried out in Italy, except for interventions funded through the AMIF programme. Such evaluation reports are however not publicly available. Instead, studies exist on the evolution of integration outcomes. They are considered to be indirect assessments of integration policies.

At the national level, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies oversees the monitoring and evaluation of migrants’ socio-economic integration. It publishes annual reports on migrants’ integration in the labour market and their access to protection and pension schemes. Moreover, in collaboration with the National Council of Economy and Labour, it has developed a set of indicators on migrant integration (including data on socio-occupational integration, and the ‘attractiveness degrees’ of provinces, regions and macro-areas for migrants) to monitor and evaluate trends at national, regional and local levels.

The most important non-governmental source of information on integration outcomes is the Statistical Yearbook annually published by CARITAS-IDOS.


☑   Foreigners Law

The legislative decree 286/1998 adopted in 1998 and its subsequent amendments represent the main legal framework on immigration and integration. Among the main amending provisions introduced, the most important is law 189/2002 (also known as Legge Bossi-Fini, from the names of its proponents) which significantly reformed rules related to legal and irregular migration, with a more restrictive approach.

 Asylum Law

Asylum laws in Italy largely result from the transposition of the EU directives on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and their recast versions. Hence, asylum is not framed into an organic legislative framework in Italy but regulated by several pieces of legislation targeting different aspects (namely qualifications, Status determination procedures and reception and integration services for asylum-seekers and beneficiaries of international protection).

   Integration Law

Italy does not have a self-standing integration law.

☑   Nationality Law

Law no. 91/1992 constitutes the current legislative framework on naturalisation. The Security Bill adopted in 2009 introduced restrictive rules in the area of naturalisation by marriage, with the explicit goal of tackling ‘marriages of convenience’. A reform bill currently debated at the Parliament would introduce two fundamental modifications easing access to citizenship for migrant children born in Italy or arrived in the country before the age of 12.

☑   Anti-discrimination

Anti-discrimination is not the object of an organic legislation in Italy but it is addressed by a number of legal provisions contained in several pieces of legislation. Law 205/1993 (also known as Legge Mancino) punishes hate speech and tackles discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and nationality. Legislative decrees 215 and 216 of 2003 transposed into the Italian legislation the EU directives 2000/43/CE and 2000/78/CE, respectively on equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and on equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Furthermore, the Immigration Act of 286/1998 includes provisions related to anti-discrimination. It solemnly defines equality of treatment between nationals and foreigners in access to employment, labour conditions, social and assistance and security, protection against discrimination as an individual right.

Public authorities

At national level, the responsibility on the governance of integration policies is shared between the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. The latter entrust practical activities, such as managing integration policies, to its General Directorate of Immigration and Integration Policies. The first represents Italy at the European Integration Network. Within the Ministry of Interior, the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration deals with issues concerning the protection of civil rights; including those related to immigration, asylum, citizenship, and religion.

According to Italian legislation, regions are the key actors in planning integration policies, given their legislative and regulatory competence in the field of social policies, education, labour market, vocational training, health and housing. Within the policy framework set by regional governments, municipalities hold the main responsibilities in terms of defining concrete integration measures and policy implementation. The central responsibility of local authorities and public services at local level such as educational institutions, healthcare services is also reflected within the framework of the newly adopted National Integration Plan for Beneficiaries of International Protection.

Civil society

Representatives of the most relevant immigrant organisations and NGOs are consulted during the drafting of policies and can participate in the technical group’s meetings of the Coordinating and Monitoring Committee, the inter-ministerial body in charge of drafting migratory policies. Nevertheless, the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in migration decision-making ultimately depend on governments’ specific predispositions.

The situation is different when it comes to refugees as a Forum of 13 NGOs constitutes a consultative body on asylum and refugee integration called Tavolo Nazionale Asilo. It is consulted in the planning of refugee integration measures.

Besides the national level, most regions have created consultative bodies to bring stakeholders together and public consultations have been carried out by some local authorities. However, civil society organisations’ and experts’ participation varies significantly across regions. Furthermore, the latter rarely involve the Immigration Territorial Councils, which are territorial consultative bodies operating at the provincial level under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior.


Non-profit organisations and local authorities can apply for financing through several funds. EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) is the most important one in terms of budget. Coordinated by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration, the national allocation for Italy under AMIF is € 315 355 777 €. 40% of this amount is allocated to integration and return. The Directorate General of Immigration and Integration Policies manages, controls and monitors actions developed within the Legal Migration/Integration strand which aims at:  

  • reinforcing the links between active labour market policies and socio-economic integration of immigrants
  • tackling school drop-out of children with a migration background
  • favouring socio-economic inclusion and paths towards autonomy of unaccompanied minors
  • Improving communication and information services towards migrants with the active involvement of migrants’ communities and second generation migrants
  • Supporting migrants’ associations

In addition, national and private funds are made available for service providers and other stakeholders to carry out projects aiming for a better integration of the migrant population.

Public funding Private funding


Other stakeholders

☑   Providing integration services

The full list of organisations providing integration services is available on the website of the Ministry of Labour and social Policies, which manages a national register. The most relevant national organisations are:

  • The national network of socio-cultural associations ARCI. Its fields of interventions range from counselling and labour market support to social services, intercultural dialogue, language courses and civic education.
  • Diaconia Valdese provides integration and support services for asylum seekers and refugees in 7 regions.
  • Migrant association ANOLF. Linked to the trade union CISL, it provides counselling and orientation and training services to promote migrants’ rights as well as legal assistance for labour disputes or other work-related issues.

☑   Implementing Integration Programme

☑   Campaigning

☑   Publishing research and statistics