The investor visa applies only for an investment into an "innovative start-up" as defined by the law. The time of incorporation is only one factor to be taken into account. "Innovative start-ups" listed in a separate section of the companies register are defined as any companies with shared capital (i.e., limited companies), including cooperatives, whose capital shares – or equivalent – are neither listed on a regulated market nor on a multilateral negotiation system. These enterprises must also comply with the following requirements: be newly incorporated or have been operational for less than five years (in any case, not before Dec. 18, 2012); have their headquarters in Italy or in another EU country, but with at least a production site branch in Italy; have a yearly turnover lower than 5 million euros; do not distribute profits; have as exclusive or prevalent company object – as stated in the deeds of incorporation – the production, development and commercialization of innovative goods or services of high technological value; are not the result of a merger, split up or selling off of a company or branch. The innovative character of the enterprises is identified by at least one of the following criteria: at least 15 percent of the company’s expenses can be attributed to R&D activities; at least 1/3 of the total workforce are Ph.D. students, the holders of a Ph.D. or researchers; or, alternatively, 2/3 of the total workforce must hold a master’s degree; the enterprise is the holder, depositary or licensee of a registered patent (industrial property), or the owner and author of a registered software.
How does the Italian government define a start-up company for the purposes of an investor visa?
I wish to relocate to Italy and help a business that has been operating for about five years. Can I invest 500,000 euros in this venture and get a resident permit? What does the government consider a “start-up” for this type of permit? Is five years too old?
Innovative start-ups are the ones defined pursuant to Law 221/2012 and they are registered in a special section of the Italian companies register. According to Italian law, an innovative start-up is a limited liability company newly incorporated or active for less than five years that needs to comply with a number of requirements, i.e.: have a yearly turnover lower than 5 million euros; do not distribute profits; produce, develop and commercialize innovative goods or services of high technological value; be of innovative character. This last requirement can be identified by at least one of the following criteria: at least 15 percent of the company’s expenses can be attributed to R&D activities; at least one third of the total workforce are Ph.D. students, the holders of a Ph.D. or researchers or, alternatively, two thirds of the total workforce must hold a master’s degree; the enterprise is the holder, depositary or licensee of a registered patent (industrial property) or the owner of a program for original registered computers.
To be qualified as the concept of a start-up, the company needs to have been incorporated foe less than five years.
There’s no limit to the number of renewals that can be granted. After five years of regular residency in Italy, you can choose whether to renew the investor resident permit for a further three years (if you have maintained the original investment), or you can apply for an EU resident permit for long-term residents (a permanent residence permit which does not require renewals). Please note that to renew the investor resident permit you must maintain the original investment. However, if meeting the requirements, you can apply for conversion of the investor permit into another type of resident permit (e.g., a resident permit for self-employment).