Decree Law no. 34 of 19 May 2020, the so-called “Relaunch Decree”, provided for the strengthening, throughout Italy, of interventions in favour of innovative start-ups.
The intention of the legislator is to encourage the growth of start-ups in order to bridge the gap between Italy and other EU countries.

The reference provision is Article 38 of the decree itself, entitled “Strengthening the ecosystem of innovative start-ups”. In particular, Paragraph 10 (Investor Visa for Italy) concerns the halving of the minimum thresholds for attracting investments to capital companies and innovative start-ups.

To this regard, Law no. 232 of 11 December 2016 (“Budget Law 2017”) has introduced (under art. 1, paragraph 148) a new type of visa dedicated to non-EU citizens who intend to make investments of significant amount in strategic areas for the Italian economy and society. To this end, a new type of visa was added to the legislative decree. 286/1998 (Consolidated Act on Immigration) article 26-bis, entitled “Entry and stay for investors”, which provides that non-EU citizens who make an investment in one of the following types can apply for a visa: 2 million euro in medium-long term government bonds; at least 1 million euro in Italian joint-stock companies (500 thousand euro in the case of innovative start-ups pursuant to Decree Law 179/2012); at least 1 million euro for donations in the cultural, environmental and social field.

The first implementation phase of the Investor Visa programme showed that the measure has so far met with limited interest. The provision referred to in paragraph 10 of the “Relaunch Decree” therefore aims to encourage the use of the program, with particular emphasis on forms of investment of a productive nature, through a halving of the financial thresholds for operations directed towards corporations (from 1 million to 500 thousand euros) and, in particular, towards innovative start-ups (from 500 thousand to 250 thousand euros).

Moreover, those who invest in innovative start-ups have the possibility of benefiting from interesting tax benefits equal to a 30% IRPEF deduction.

The reduction of the financial threshold would make Italy more competitive in the European context, which currently has 20 national residence schemes for foreign investors. The report “Citizenship and Residence Schemes for Investors in the European Union” published by the European Commission at the end of 2018 shows that Italy is in the range of countries with the highest financial thresholds, whereas countries such as France and Spain require significantly lower financial resources.

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