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Sanatoria for asylum-seekers

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UPDATE – It is no longer possible to apply for the sanatoria. The deadline to apply (August 15, 2020) has passed.

Whether asylum-seekers are eligible or not for this sanatoria is one of the questions you’ve asked the most over the past months.

So far, we haven't been able to give a clear answer, but this is mainly because the sanatoria measure is very complex and the matter is still quite unsettled. The Ministry of Interior is issuing memos, or ‘circolari’ in Italian, to provide guidelines on how to put the law into practice.

As the decrees and the Ministerial directives do NOT explicitly mention asylum-seekers or any other specific legal status, many lawyers have been doing some interpretation work to try to get clear guidelines on how to deal with the different cases.

Based on the most recent circolare and FAQ published by the Ministry of Interior and ASGI guidelines, and with the support of CILD, we want to shed light on some of the unclear issues, in order to help you understand and navigate the sanatoria procedure, especially if you are an asylum-seeker.

Anyway, there's no need to rush. The Minister of Interior has also extended the deadline to apply for the sanatoria. You have now time until August 15, 2020.

Before we dig into more details, it’s important to remind you once again that this sanatoria may give you the right to a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro subordinato or a permesso temporaneo.

There are 3 different cases for which you may get one of the two permessi with this sanatoria.

CASE 1: If you can prove you were in Italy before 8 March 2020 (and haven’t left the country), and you have a new job offer or work contract in one of the relevant sectors mentioned in the decree (agriculture, farming, husbandry, fisheries, aquaculture, caretaker work and domestic house work).

CASE 2: If you can prove you were in Italy before 8 March 2020 (and you haven’t left the country), and your employer is willing to regularize your prior undeclared working relationship in one of the relevant sectors we mentioned above.

Note: If you meet the requirements for cases 1 and 2, you may be eligible for a Permesso di Soggiorno per Lavoro Subordinato. This is true regardless of your legal status in the country. According to the Interior Ministry you may be eligible for a work permit also if you have another permesso, including the ones that normally cannot be converted to a work permit, including but not limited to:

CASE 3: If your permesso expired on or after 31 October 2019, and you have prior relevant experience in the relevant sectors we mentioned above. In this case you may get a Permesso di Soggiorno Temporaneo.

So, can asylum-seekers apply for sanatoria?

The sanatoria is open to anyone who meets its criteria, but the type of the permesso di soggiorno you hold is not really a requirement itself.

Sanatoria applies to you only if you work, have a job offer, or prior experience in agriculture, farming, husbandry, fisheries, aquaculture, caretaker work and domestic house work.

Here you can find the list of all the activities included in the sanatoria. In this table below you can find a summary of the requirements to apply.

sanatoria requirements

Learn more about requirements for the sanatoria here.

If you meet the requirements above and you think you’re eligible for one of the two permessi from the sanatoria, we suggest you check with your lawyer or a legal help desk before applying.

Check the ‘Who can help’ section at the bottom of this page or drop us a private message if you need help finding an help desk in your area.

Will I need to drop my asylum claim?

The law does not explicitly say that you need to drop your asylum claim if you apply for the sanatoria. However, the Ministry of Interior recently clarified this point with a circolare, that you can read in Italian here.

IF YOU ARE AN ASYLUM-SEEKER AND YOU MEET THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE WORK PERMIT – Basically, if you are an asylum-seeker and you meet the requirements for the work permit under the sanatoria, you do NOT need to drop your asylum claim to apply.

When you will go to the Prefettura to sign the ‘contratto di soggiorno’ the police will have to inform you of your right to keep or drop your asylum claim ongoing.

If you decide to keep your asylum procedure ongoing, you will receive a paper work permit, not the plastic one, with an ‘R’ written on it. With this permit you will not be able to leave the country as asylum-seeker’s rules still apply to you.

Actually, if you get a permesso under the sanatoria and then the Territorial Commission grants you a form of international protection, you will get to choose which one of the two statuses (international protection or work) you want to keep.

IF YOU HAVE AN EXPIRED PERMESSO PER RICHIESTA ASILO AND YOU MEET THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE 6-MONTH TEMPORARY PERMIT – In this case, even if you hold an expired permesso per richiesta asilo you will be required to drop your asylum claim anyway. This is because asylum-seekers have the right to stay in the country until the Commission makes a final decision on the case, even with an expired permit.

Please consider that the sanatoria may not necessarily be the best option for you. The decision of applying for the sanatoria depends more on your personal history and your chances to get a refugee status or a subsidiary protection permesso.

Check with a lawyer to protect yourself and understand what’s more convenient for you.

...watch out for questure that may ask you to drop your asulym claim anyway.

We know that some questure – like the one in Rome – have asked asylum-seekers to drop their asylum claim. But this was before the circolare of the Ministry of Interior.

According to CILD lawyers, the questura or the prefettura should not ask you to drop your asylum claim. At any point. Unless you have an expired permesso and want to apply for the 6-month temporary permit under the sanatoria.

So, if the questura or the prefettura asks you to do so, DO NOT sign any paper and immediately contact a lawyer. You can also send an email to CILD: legal@cild.eu

If you want to apply for the 6-month temporary permesso, but you don’t have a valid national passport

To apply for a 6-month temporary permit, you need to provide a copy of your national passport, or an equivalent travel document, or an identity certificate issued by the Embassy of your home country in Italy. If you cannot provide any of these documents to prove your identity, the Italian authorities may not consider you as eligible for the temporary permesso.

Please keep in mind that the law does not specify that your passport or equivalent travel document must be valid. However, we know that some questure are asking for valid national passport or another travel document. For example, the Questura di Piacenza is one of those.

If the post office or the questura ask you to provide a valid passport, contact your lawyer or send an email to CILD: legal@cild.eu

Remember, if you do not have a valid national passport or an equivalent travel document, you can:

  • Use your expired national passport to apply. In this case, you have to make sure you get a valid passport before the appointment at the questura to fingerprint.
  • Contact the Embassy of your home country to get the certificate to prove your identity, ‘attestazione anagrafica’ in Italian.

Important: As you know, asylum-seekers are not allowed to contact their Embassy. So, if you’re an asylum-seeker and are considering applying for the sanatoria, please check with a lawyer who can advise on your case and help you with the documentation.

Who can help

The procedure to apply for the sanatoria is quite new and complex, so it’s always a good idea to check with an expert, regardless of the permesso you or your employer are going to apply. There are some associations that you can contact to get more information about the sanatoria and support with the application procedure:

‘Siamo qui - sanatoria subito’ network has various legal help desks across Italy, you can find the whole list here.

Community Center Network offers an online help desk service, you can contact them by sending an email to virtualcenter@diaconiavaldese.org or calling 3441874631. The service is available Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 1 pm. They can also point to local services available in Torino, Milano, Bologna, Perugia, Napoli and Catania.

ARCI – SOS Diritti has set up a hotline for the regularization. You can call 800999977 from Monday to Friday in the morning (9 am - 1 pm) or in the afternoon (2.30 - 6.30 pm).

Italia Hello also wrote an article including associations that can support in many Italian regions. Here for the English or French version.

CILD – Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties, you can send an email (in English or Italian) if you have questions about the sanatoria: legal@cild.eu. They have also created a FAQ document on the sanatoria in Italian.

CAF help desk can help you understand whether you are eligible for the sanatoria or not. They can also help you with the application procedure. The most common ones are called CGIL, ANOLF, INAS or ACLI.

For example you can search on Google (https://www.google.com/): Sportello Immigrati CGIL + [name of your city].

IMPORTANT: We've learned from some people that some lawyers and CAFs that are not from the unions like the one we suggested are asking to pay a lot of money for the procedure: please watch out for scams. Send us a message if this happens to you, we'll do our best to put you in contact with someone that can help.

Got any questions? Drop us a private message on Facebook.

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