According to the Reception Decree, an asylum seeker can start to work after 60 days from the moment they lodged the asylum application. Even if they start working, the asylum seeker permit cannot be converted into a work or residence permit.
Even though the law makes a generic reference to the right to access to employment without indicating any limitations, and albeit being entitled to register with Provincial Offices for Labour, in practice asylum seekers face difficulties in obtaining a residence permit which allows them to work. This is due to the delay in the Registration of their asylum applications, on the basis of which the permit of stay will be consequently issued, or to the delay in the renewal thereof.
Furthermore, employers are often wary of hiring asylum seekers who are in possession only of the asylum request receipt or the request for renewal of the six-month permit, since they present no expiry date, even if they are legally equal to the residence permit.
Moreover, as reported to ASGI, many Provincial Offices for Labour do not allow asylum seekers under the Dublin procedure to enrol on the lists of unemployed persons and some Questure have expressed a negative opinion about the possibility for these people to be employed, before it is confirmed that Italy is responsible for their asylum application. The CJEU decision of 14 January 2021, according to which Article 15 of the Directive 2013/33/EU must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which excludes an applicant for international protection from access to the labour market on the sole ground that a transfer decision has been taken in his or her regard under Dublin Regulation, should overcome the different orientations existing in the national territory.
In early 2022, an additional case was signalled to ASGI in Bolzano, since both the employment office and Questura had denied access to work to a Dublin asylum seeker.
In addition, the objective factors affecting the possibility of asylum seekers to find a job are language barriers, the remote location of the accommodation and the lack of specific support founded on their needs.
L.132/2020 has re-introduced the possibility – abolished by Decree Law 113/2018 implemented by L.132/2018 – for asylum seekers to be involved in activities of social utility in favour of local communities.
Regularisation of foreign workers
From June to August 2020 – the Government allowed the regularisation of foreign workers who arrived in Italy prior to 8 March 2020, in specific sectors (agricultural work, assistance to people with pathologies or handicap, domestic work). The procedure was opened to asylum seekers allowing the applicants to change their permit into a work permit.
Two different procedures were regulated:
- In the first track, employers could apply to regularise their foreign and Italian workers without a regular contract by putting in place proper employment contracts. This could thus only be activated by the employer;
- In the second track, third-country nationals who have been in Italian territory without a valid residence permit since October 2019 can apply for a six-month residence permit to look for a job.
In the first case the worker obtained a work permit to stay, in the second case the worker obtained a 6-months permit to stay, convertible into a work permit only if, in those six months, he or she found an employment contract in one of the three above-mentioned sectors.
Asylum seekers could access both types of procedures. However, the MoI Circulars provided that access to the second procedure was subject to the renunciation of the asylum application. Through the renunciation, to be formalised at the Questura, the asylum seeker could be admitted to the procedure as an irregular foreign citizen present in the national territory and obtain a residence permit for awaiting employment.
The Civil Court of Florence observed that it was necessary to ascertain that the applicant had received correct information on the withdrawal of the application and its consequences, before accepting the renunciation of the asylum application and the closure of the court proceedings. 
The Regional Administrative Court of Marche stated that the responsible Questura could not declare the application inadmissible due to the applicant’s failure to renounce international protection. 
In total, only 230,000 persons applied for such regularisation procedure.
Out of the 207,452 applications submitted in the first procedure, as of 19 October 2022, 83,032 residence permits had actually been released, meaning only the 37.7% of the total number of applications presented.
Two class actions have been promoted – one in Rome and the other in Milan – against the administration’s delay.
 Article 22(1) Reception Decree.
 Article 22(2) Reception Decree.
 CJEU decision, joined cases C322/19 and C385/19, 14 January 2021.
 Article 22-bis(3) Reception Decree, as amended by Article 12 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018 now only refers to beneficiaries of international protection, no longer to asylum seekers.
 Article 103 DL 34/2020 converted with amendments by L. 77/2020.
 Article 103 (2) DL 34/2020.
 Moi Circular of 19 June 2020; Moi Circular of 7 July 2020.