International protection

International protection is a protection that Italy gives to people who are forced to flee their country. There are various types of protection: refugee status, subsidiary protection and special protection.

Every year, many people flee their country because they face persecution or fear of facing it. Persecution occurs on grounds of race, religion, nationality, social group, political opinion or sexual orientation and gender identity.

All people who flee can get protection and help in the country they migrate to with the international protection.

Types of international protection in Italy

In Italy there are 2 types of international protection: status di rifugiato- asilo (refugee status- asylum) and protezione sussidiaria (subsidiary protection). There is also a third type of protection recognized by the Italian state, which is protezione speciale (special protection).

There are also some specific cases for which one is not granted international protection, but can get a permesso di soggiorno.

Status di Rifugiato/ Asilo (Refugee status / Asylum)

The status di rifugiato is granted to people who are persecuted or at risk of being persecuted in their country of origin because of their ethnicity, religion, nationality, belonging to a specific social group or political views. With status di rifugiato:

  •  you obtain a permesso di soggiorno for 5 years, which can be renewed, and a travel document to travel outside Italy
  • you can enroll in school and can work
  • you can apply for ricongiungimento familiare (family reunification)
  • you can apply for citizenship and for a European Union residence permit for long residence after 5 years of stay in Italy

Protezione sussidiaria (subsidiary protection)

Subsidiary protection is granted to people who do not qualify for status di rifugiato, but could still be subjected to torture, other forms of inhuman treatment, death penalty, or whose life would be threatened by war in their country of origin. With protezione sussidiaria:

  • you obtain a permesso di soggiorno for 5 years, which can be renewed, and a travel document to travel outside Italy.
  • you can enroll in school
  • you can work and convert your permesso into a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro
  • you can apply for ricongiungimento familiare
  • you can apply for a European Union residence permit for long-term residents after 5 years of stay in Italy
  •  you can apply for citizenship after 10 years of stay in Italy

Protezione speciale (special protection)

Sometimes the applicant does not obtain the status di rifugiato or protezione sussidiaria, but still cannot return to his country of origin due to serious dangers such as persecution or torture.

In this case, the examining commission (Commissione Territoriale per il Riconoscimento della Protezione Internazionale, or CTRPI) can issue a permesso di soggiorno per protezione speciale. With protezione speciale:

  • you get a 1 year permesso di soggiorno, which can be renewed if the situation in your country does not change.
  • you can request a travel document to travel outside Italy
  • you can study and work, but you cannot convert this type of permesso into a permesso di soggiorno per motivi di lavoro.

Casi speciali (special cases)

Casi speciali are indicated to the Questura by the social services or organisations that deal with protection and assistance of newcomers, or by the Procuratore when the person is part of a criminal trial.

Special cases are not international protection cases and therefore are not obtained by applying for international protection. However, in some cases, even the Commissione Territoriale that examines requests for international protection can report a potential caso speciale to the Questura.

The types of residence permits for special cases are:

Per protezione sociale (social protection): the person victim of severe violence or exploitation by a criminal organisation, for example a victim of human trafficking or prostitution, can obtain a permesso per protezione sociale. This permesso:

  • is valid for 6 months and you can renew it for 1 year or for longer periods if the danger still exists
  • allows you to study and work and can be converted into a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro or studio (work or study)

If you are a victim of trafficking you can get more information by talking to the staff of the SATIS Project.

Per vittime di violenza domestica (victims of domestic violence): the person who suffers violence within its family and reports his aggressor can obtain a permesso di soggiorno per vittime di violenza domestica. This permesso:

  • is valid for 1 year
  • allows you to study and work and can be converted into a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro or studio (work or study)

Per particolare sfruttamento sul lavoro (exploitation at work): the person without a residence permit who is exploited by his employer obtains this type of permesso if he decides to report the employer and the situation of exploitation. This permesso:

  • is valid for 6 months and is renewable for 1 year or for a longer period based on the duration of the lawsuit against the employer
  • allows you to work and can be converted into a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro

Other types of permesso di soggiorno

You can also apply for a permesso di soggiorno:

Per calamità (calamity): if you are unable to return to your country due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood or earthquake, you can apply for a permesso di soggiorno per calamità, valid for 6 months. If at the end of the 6 months it is still not possible to return to your country due to the natural disaster, the permesso can be renewed. You can work for the duration of the permesso, but it cannot be converted into a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro.

Per cure mediche (medical treatment): if you are seriously ill and cannot return to your country due to your health conditions, you can apply for a permesso di soggiorno per cure mediche. To apply you need hospital certificates showing that your health condition is really serious. The permesso is valid for a maximum of 1 year and is renewable if the health conditions continue to be serious. Pregnant women can also get this type of permesso.

Attached documents

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