Italy scores 58/100, higher than the average MIPEX country (49) and slightly above-average among EU and Western European (EU15) / OECD countries. Immigrants in Italy enjoy more opportunities than obstacles for integration. Major obstacles tend to emerge in political participation and access to nationality, as immigrants in Italy face slightly unfavourable polices in these two areas of integration.
Italy’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “Temporary Integration”, like France, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. Italy has more developed policies than Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, which have a similar approach but go only halfway towards providing immigrants with equal opportunities. Although it has a similar score to Spain, Italy differs from Spain due to the more comprehensive Spanish integration approach.
Foreign citizens in Italy can benefit from access to basic rights and halfway favourable policies on equal opportunities, but they do not enjoy the long-term security to settle permanently, invest in integration and participate as full citizens. The Italian ‘Temporary Integration’ approach encourages the public to see immigrants as equals but as foreigners. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
These policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact with and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: slightly favourable: Under Italy's slightly favourable policies, non-EU citizens have access to (basic) employment and self-employment. A lack of targeted support may make it less likely that non-EU residents find secure jobs in line with their qualifications and skills.
- Family reunification: slightly favourable: Non-EU families have slightly favourable opportunities to reunite and integrate in Italy. Close family members can quickly apply to reunite with their sponsor and secure stable status with near-equal rights. Nevertheless, the restrictive language and economic requirements may keep families separated given current economic and local realities in Italy.
- Education: halfway favourable: Even though immigrants under the age of 18 have access to education in Italy, newcomer pupils receive little help in accessing all types of school (e.g. higher education). Italy still needs to invest in its growing diversity of pupils and make equal access and intercultural education a reality in schools across the country. Furthermore, there is a lack of support for teachers, which could create additional barriers for immigrant pupils.
- Health: slightly favourable: Healthcare services are generally accessible for immigrant patients due to a combination of national and regional policies. All legal migrants and asylum-seekers have the right and duty to enrol in the National Health Service (SSN). However, the documentation required to access healthcare can be complicated for legal migrants and asylum seekers.
- Political participation: slightly unfavourable: Migrants in Italy continue to face obstacles to their political participation, as they are neither allowed to vote nor supported to be politically engaged. In addition they are consulted only through weak consultative bodies across Italy.
- Permanent residence: slightly favourable: 5 years' residence, with limited time abroad, is required for most temporary residents including, as of 2014, all beneficiaries of international protection and their families. Long-term residents are relatively secure in their status in Italy. However, long-term residents can still lose their status on several grounds, including committing a serious crime or being absent from the EU for >1 year.
- Access to nationality: slightly unfavourable: Immigrants in Italy face a long and highly discretionary procedure to become secure Italian citizens with dual nationality. Immigrants’ children born in Italy are treated as foreigners for their entire childhood. Applicants continue to face one of the most discretionary and bureaucratic procedures among MIPEX countries for becoming a citizen.
- Anti-discrimination: slightly favourable: Victims of ethnic, racial, religious and nationality-based discrimination are protected in all areas of life. Despite strong enforcement mechanisms, the weak equality body in Italy could prove to be a challenge for victims of discrimination.