Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Roman holiday

Q I have heard that many people from Punjab have gone to Italy on a work visa. What is the procedure and how can we apply for it?

—Harpal Singh

A Of late, Italy has been attracting quite a few people from India. Indians, especially from Punjab, are going to Italy in search of both low skilled as well as high skilled jobs. Overall, 32,853 visas were issued for Italy in the first half of 2007, compared to 45,209 for the whole of 2006. The increase has been more significant in the employment category with 3842 visas issued in the first half of 2007 (from 349 in the same period last year). The reason for more people coming from Punjab is because of agricultural jobs. The rest went as businessmen, dairy farmers, agriculturists, traders or to work in Indian restaurants.

The Italian work permit scheme for employment visas is administered directly from Italy. The papers are issued from Italy to the employers after necessary verification procedure. The Italian embassy and consular posts in India clear such applicants fairly swiftly based on the documents sent by the employers. However, you cannot apply for it directly The Work permit must be sponsored by an Italian company or an employer.

The jobs available in Italy include part-time jobs in industries such as tourism and agriculture. There are jobs on offer in summer and winter tourism including ski resorts and in the hospitality industry. Besides, there are openings in camping companies during peak season. For Indians in the semi-skilled category, agricultural work such as strawberry picking and grape harvesting is very attractive. There are also jobs in English language schools and in childcare and eldercare.

The embassy in India has launched a fast track scheme for business visas for companies which do a lot of business in Italy and need to send their staff members often. Through this scheme, multiple-entry is given within 24 hours to senior executives who need to travel to Italy often on business trips.

Visa applicants are advised to take an appointment through VFS Italy (which specialises in visa related outsourcing) before submitting their application.

Employment visa applications are accepted only Monday-Wednesday and Friday in Delhi and Monday-Tuesday, and, Thursday-Friday at Jalandhar visa application centres.

The Embassy of Italy in New Delhi accepts applications from residents of Delhi and Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and Uttarakhand.

Applications for the Schengen Visa can be submitted at VFS Italy at Delhi and Jalandhar without an appointment.