Italy’s Work Visa Lottery

Over 600,000 Applications Flood Italy’s 2024 Work Visa Lottery

Italy’s annual work visa lottery for non-EU citizens, which opened on December 2, has been flooded with more than 600,000 pre-applications from local employers looking to hire foreign workers in 2024.
According to a report in the Financial Times This huge demand far exceeds the government’s recently increased quota of 136,000 jobs by 2024 and highlights the country’s severe labor shortages across all sectors of the economy.

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Italy’s Work Visa Lottery

Fill the national shortage.

The Ministry of the Interior reports receipt of 260,953 preliminary applications for seasonal jobs in tourism and agriculture, 253,473 for non-seasonal jobs in construction and trade and 86,074 for jobs in household and healthcare. , comments from industry leaders suggest that this recovery is due to long-term demographic pressures rather than short-term changes.

The Italian Oggi predicted that Italy will have more pensioners than workers in 2024 and that the number of pensioners will steadily increase in the coming years.

Immigration reforms completed but inadequate

Amid calls to ease labor imports, newly elected Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition government has slowly increased annual quotas for work visas, aiming to reach 165,000 by 2026.

However, leading industry associations such as the agricultural union Coldiretti consider even the proposed figures for 2026 to be inadequate.

“We need people in all sectors,” said Coldiretti director Luigi Pio Scordamaglia.

The regime also aims to supplement quotas with special immigration agreements for countries such as Tunisia.

Officials from employers’ associations, however, remain skeptical about whether such incremental reforms can meet workers’ demands, especially as anti-immigration sentiment grows. These illegal inflows could make people very suspicious of migrant workers.

Changing travel and migration policy

The labor shortage in Italy could influence political decisions in the area of ​​travel and migration policy.

For example, the European Commission (EC) expects to launch the European Travel and Authorization System (ETIAS) in May 2025.

ETIAS is intended to increase security and facilitate travel and requires citizens from more than 60 countries to be from are exempt from visa requirements. Obtain a pre-travel permit before entering the Schengen area.

While ETIAS focuses exclusively on short-term visitors and not long-term residents, it could indirectly influence future immigration policy.

Meanwhile, the pressure created by Italy’s dilemma could ripple across the EU if other member states facing similar demographic changes echo its calls to reform outdated immigration systems.

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The way forward

As Italy faces competing pressures from employers and voters on immigration, incremental policy changes can help find a middle ground.
However, effectively matching work demands and public opinion to solve workforce problems requires deeper insight.
With comprehensive reforms still lacking, the coming years will test Italy’s agility in designing forward-looking and adaptable immigration systems.
Success depends on building public confidence that policy developments can ensure security while opening controlled channels for the importation of willing foreign workers. The goal is calibrating the intake dial not by who knocks loudest at the door but based on informed projections of labor needs.
If achieved, Italy may pioneer an immigration model other European states could replicate, turning demographic challenges into opportunities. The road ahead remains long, but a path is emerging.