Italy: Quota for migrant workers set

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With a considerable delay, the quota for migrants to be allowed legally into Italy in 2007 was set on 30 October 2007, and is due to be published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (official journal) on 30 November 2007. The delay can be explained by the fact that in past years, including 2006, the estimated number of migrant workers envisaged was insufficient and had to be subsequently increased to account for the demand of foreign workers by Italian employers (the overall figure for 2006 was raised from an initial 170,000 to 520,000). It is a regular occurrence for the initial quotas to prove insufficient, as Spain has also repeatedly allowed the legal entry of a lower number of migrant workers than were actually needed.

The 170,000 to be granted residence permits are divided between different sectors, and there are a number of legal entries (47,100) reserved for nationals of countries that have concluded co-operation agreements in this field with Italy - 45,000 Albanians, 1,000 Algerians, 3,000 Bangladeshis, 8,000 Egyptians, 5,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Ghanaians, 4,500 Moroccans, 6,500 Moldavians, 1,500 Nigerians, 1,000 Pakistanis, 1,000 Senegalese, 100 Somalis and 4,000 Tunisians, with a further 2,500 allocated for countries that conclude agreements to regulate migratory flows and readmission procedures. By trade, the largest group of non-EU nationals are to be allowed legal entry into Italy are domestic and care workers (65,000), followed by the construction sector (14,200), managers and highly skilled workers (1,000), drivers (500), fishermen (200), and 30,000 to be allocated to cover needs in the remaining sectors. 3,000 residence permits for students are to be issued, 2,500 for training as apprentices and 1,500 for seasonal employment, such as crop-picking. 3,000 self-employed workers will also be allowed entry, for specified sectors and 1,500 people will be allowed to convert temporary permits to study or for training into permits to exercise a profession independently. 500 places are reserved for workers with Italian origins, from Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Other developments include the possibility for employers to file applications and requests for workers via the Internet, rather than at post offices, thus avoiding lengthy queues that have been forming in the past and diminishing the administrative burden -procedures are still underway for applications falling within the 2006 quota-. The idea of quotas for migrant workers was intended for non-residents residing abroad to fulfil Italian businesses' labour requirements that could not be covered by Italians.

In practice, the estimates have always been lower than the real need for labour, as employers often shy away from the possibility of hiring, and requesting to hire, third-country non-resident workers legally and at a higher cost, when they can cut costs by hiring people who are residing in Italy illegally and over whom they have greater control and ability to impose unfair conditions (pay, hours or treatment) as a result of their status as "illegals". Moreover, employers are sometimes reluctant to employ people from a distance, without having met them. Thus, there are cases in which employers are willing to employ people already working for them who reside illegally in Italy in a legal manner, whereby a peculiar sort of "regularisation" process begins whereby workers return to their home countries to apply for the jobs they were carrying out anyways.

Decreto del presidente del Consiglio dei ministri sulla "programmazione transitoria dei flussi d'ingresso dei lavoratori extracomunitari non stagionali nel territorio dello Stato per l'anno 2007 (full-text of the decree, in Italian, available at:

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