Italian embassy dismisses ‘new visa route’ for South Africans as a scam

The Italian Embassy in Pretoria has dismissed reports on a ‘new visa route’ to gain Italian citizenship as a scam.

The new programme was purportedly created by the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) to encourage economically active people to immigrate to Italy, according to Chas Everitt International.

Chas Everitt said that the new programme was being offered by the Italian government in conjunction with a local financial advice group and affiliate company, describing it as “an elective residency programme available to people who are able to self-sustain financially or who wish to start a new business”.

The news was published on media platforms including Property24 and BusinessTech.

However, following the reports on the programme, the Italian Embassy investigated its ties to the group Chas Everitt claimed to be working with and found that there is no such affiliation in place. Chas Everitt has since removed references to the programme from its website.

“Our introduction to the Italian elective residency programme has been suspended pending the outcome of a pilot tour and the refining of certain checks and balances in connection with the offering,” Chas Everitt said.

Embassy response

The Italian embassy said it wanted to make it clear that there is no “new programme” to get Italian residency and passport, nor is there a programme offered specifically to South African citizens.

It also noted that to get residency through official channels, “one does not need to spend as much as it is reported”.

“One just needs to comply with requirements established by the Italian law.”

It said that Italy only offers two special visas :

  • An investor visa – for foreigners who choose to invest in strategic assets for Italy’s economy and society; and
  • An elective residence visa – for foreigners who have chosen Italy as the country of permanent residence, buying or renting a property there, and who are able to support themselves autonomously, without having to rely on employment while in Italy.

“For a foreign citizen who establishes their residency in Italy, however, acquiring the Italian citizenship and passport takes much longer than one year. One must reside in Italy for at least 10 years to qualify – or four years, for citizens of another EU country. There is no shortcut,” it said.

“The Italian government does not cooperate…with a financial advice group with regard to its visa and residence permit policy. No partnership exists in South Africa between the Italian authorities and Chas Everitt.

“No programme is centred on Umbria,” it said.

The embassy said that there is also no need for an intermediary in the process of getting residency, nor has any authorisation been given to one.

“The Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, the Consulate-General of Italy in Johannesburg and the Consulate in Cape Town and the sole authorised visa outsourcer VFS Global only accept visa applications presented directly by the applicants.

“The only fee to be paid to apply is the “type D” visa fee of 120 euro, plus a tiny commission if VFS is used. Once one has obtained this visa, establishing his or her residence in Italy and obtaining the residence permit is extremely straightforward and needs no intermediation either,” it said.

Read: New route for South Africans looking to emigrate to Italy

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Italian embassy dismisses ‘new visa route’ for South Africans as a scam