17th IMISCOE Annual Conference
12 May 2020
Migration and COVID in Italy: the 2nd phase
4 June 2020

The Italian regularization of migrants

Farm workers harvesting yellow bell peppers near Gilroy, California. Crews like this may include illegal immigrant workers as well as members of the United Farm Workers Union founded by Cesar Chavez.

ISMU has launched a research project to investigate the debate and legislation (within the so-called ‘Recovery’ Decree, 13.05.2020) concerning the regularization of unauthorized migrants.

The legislation targets different categories of migrant and affects a wide variety of stakeholders and of economic: a) agriculture, livestock and animal husbandry, fishing and aquaculture and related activities; b) assistance to a person suffering from pathologies or handicaps; c) domestic work to support family needs.

Therefore, ISMU has activated a multidisciplinary monitoring consisting of 4 phases:


  • Phase 1 – Collection and analysis of the diverging opinions in view of the decree’s release
  • Phase 2 – Analysis and comments by ISMU experts to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Decree
  • Phase 3 – Conduction of semi-structured interviews to key-informants and key-actors –in the public sector and among business and civil society organizations – holding different perspectives on the Decree
  • Phase 4 – Monitoring of the implementation of the Decree


ISMU will also continue its traditional collection on data on migration in Italy, with a specific focus on irregular migrants and labour market dynamics.

Currently, according to the latest ISMU reports, there were 562,000 irregular migrants in Italy on 1st January 2019.

And on the Italian version of our  website  you can also  find several comments and in-depth analyses concerning the regularisation of unauthorized migrants, as well as an updated press review.


Below you can find our first remarks on the New Italian Regularization.

New Italian Regularization


The Italian agricultural sector, from May to October, makes use of seasonal migrant workers entering through the national quota system. Because of the current health emergency, this kind of regular entry system was blocked with a consequent negative impact on the primary national system. The agricultural crop could have suffered serious damage so the government decided to regularize foreign workers already in Italy without a residence permit.

The milestones at the basis of the regularization were the primary sector’s economic crisis and the health issues. Nerveless, the Decree speaks about the will to regularize also pre-existing and irregular employment contracts so to meet specific needs of the Italian labour market.

The article 103 of the Decree (the so-called Decreto Rilancio) foresees the possibility for an Italian or a regularly resident migrant employer to enter into an employment contract with a migrant irregularly in the territory. The provision does not exclude the possibility to regularize the condition of those workers (even Italian workers) who are already “engaged” in the same activity.

Photodactyloscopic surveys must have been made before 8 March, 2020 on all foreign citizens who access the regularization. This means that they must have entered the territory before that date and they mustn’t have left Italy after the 8th of March.

Similarly, foreign citizens, with a residence permit expired on 31 October 2019 and not renewed or converted into another residence permit, can request a temporary residence permit, valid only in the national territory, lasting six months from the presentation of the ‘instance (this permit is intended to allow the search for a job). To this end, in addition to the provisions previously mentioned on entry, they must have carried out work before 31 October 2019. The aforementioned permit may be converted into a residence permit for work reasons.

The work sectors affected by regularization are: a) agriculture, livestock and animal husbandry, fishing and aquaculture and related activities; b) assistance to a person suffering from pathologies or handicaps; c) domestic work to support family needs.

The costs of the regularization foresee a flat-rate contribution established in the amount of 400 euros for each worker. The payment of a flat-rate contribution by the employer in remuneration to be determined by decree of the Minister of Labor and Social Policies with the Minister of Economy and Finance, with the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Policies.

Due to the economic crisis that will affect Italy in the months to come, it is difficult to say the effects of the regularization on the number of migrants with an irregular legal status. Different scenario are expected. One of these sees employers not interested in regularizing migrant workers because of the costs of the entire procedure (together with the budgetary issues related to the economic crisis). For sure the regularization, as described in the Decree, will have a broader impact than the one expected even if the measure is sectorial. According to the Report presenting the Decree about 220 thousand applications are expected.


by Marina D’Odorico, Researcher,  Fondazione ISMU

Milan, 22nd May 2020

Migration and COVID in Italy: the 2nd phase

by Sara Morlotti and Marina D’Odorico


In May, Italian legislation was still focused on the COVID-19 emergency and the social and economic challenges of the so-called “Phase 2“. SEE ALL