What is the change? Italy’s Council of State has ruled that residency rightsshould be extended to unmarried partners of Italian citizens. Immigration laws have not yet changed in line with the ruling, though the decision could provide the basis for extending residency rights to qualifying unmarried persons in the future.

What does the change mean? Non-EU nationals regularly residing in Italy who are in a relationship with an Italian partner, whether in a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship, may become eligible for residence permits if they are cohabitating more uxorio (i.e., in a de facto marriage, or a marriage in fact) in Italy.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residence permits for family reasons.
  • Who is affected: Unmarried partners of Italian citizens who are cohabitating more uxorio in Italy.

Background: The Council of State issued its ruling Oct. 31, basing the decision on recently introduced legal provisions on civil unions and on an EU directive on the rights of EU nationals and their family members. The ruling could pave the way for residency rights to be provided to partners of Italian citizens in cases where the couple is already cohabitating in Italy and found to be in “a stable relationship based on emotional bonds and on reciprocal moral and material assistance.”

BAL Analysis: While the ruling is notable, no changes have yet been made to Italy’s immigration laws. For now, the law still considers only spouses (i.e., married, opposite-sex couples or same-sex couples in a civil union) to be eligible for family residence permits based on their relationship with their partner.