The Directive introducing the “Integration agreement” (accordo di integrazione), which will regulate the point-based Permit of Stay system, will enter into force on 10th March 2012.
From that date, all new immigrants aged between 16 and 65 will be required to sign the integration agreement at the Immigrations Office at the Prefecture (Sportello unico per l’immigrazione) or at the Provincial Police Headquarters (Questura).
By signing the agreement, the immigrant makes a commitment that within two years, he/she will learn Italian language (Level A2 which is slightly higher than basic level), and have sufficient knowledge of the fundamental principles of Italian laws and public administration.
The immigrant will also be making a commitment to have knowledge of how essential services such as social, healthcare, etc operate, and to meet work and tax obligations, in addition to subscribing to the Charter of Values of Citizenship and Integration prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Within six months of signing the contract, the immigrant will have to go for a free short civic education course lasting between five and ten hours. The immigrant can take the course in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Albanian, Russian and Filipino.
During the course, the immigrant will be informed of local activities to support the process of integration (such as free Italian language courses).
The immigrant’s level of integration will be measured using points (credits). At the time of signing the contract, each immigrant will be automatically assigned 16 points.
Other points will be obtained for instance by demonstrating knowledge of Italian language, courses taken, educational qualifications, enrolment with social and health services, choice of personal doctor, having a regular rental contract or mortgage to buy an apartment, enrolment with a voluntary association, having created a business, etc.
There are actions which will make an immigrant lose points. They include being given a criminal sentence, even if it’s not a definitive sentence, being a threat to public security, committing administrative and tax offences, etc.
Two years after signing the agreement, the Immigrations Office at the Prefecture will examine all the documents submitted by the immigrant (certificates of courses attended, educational certificates, etc). The immigrant who fails to submit the certificates will have to sit for a test.
In both cases, the immigrant will be awarded points. An immigrant who obtains at least 30 points will be considered to have fulfilled the requirements of the integration agreement, while an immigrant who obtains between one and 29 points will be given a year to do everything possible to obtain at least 30 points. Whoever loses all the points will be expelled from the country.
Ministry of Home Affairs will create a register of all immigrants who have signed the integration agreement, indicating the points they’ve obtained. Any changes to the points will be communicated to the concerned persons who will also have access to the register to check their status.
Please note that the rule will not be retroactive, that is, it will not be applied to those already in the country by the time of its introduction. It will only be applied to those who will enter Italy when it’s already in force, if they’ll apply for the Permit of Stay valid for at least one year.
By Elvio Pasca