People applying for Italy's citizenship wage basic income in Naples, Italy | Photo: ANSA/CIRO FUSCO
People applying for Italy's citizenship wage basic income in Naples, Italy | Photo: ANSA/CIRO FUSCO

Migrant rights lawyers want the Italian social security and pensions agency INPS to resume evaluating foreigners' applications for the country's 'citizens' income' The suspension of assessing applications is "illegal and discriminatory," they argue.

The Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) sent a letter to the INPS calling on it to "immediately revoke" a circular in which it "suspended examination of applications for the citizenship income presented by foreign citizens" and instead wait for a ministerial decree. 

That decree, which has not yet been issued, is supposed to contain a list of countries in which it is "objectively impossible" to obtain the necessary documentation regarding the applicant's earnings and assets. 

The "citizens' income" – a new unemployment benefit – was rolled out by the government in early 2019. If someone is unemployed or only earns very little money, they can get money from the state. 

ASGI called the suspension by INPS "illegal and discriminatory" and said it will take legal action if INPS doesn't intervene. 

ASGI said the deadline for the decree to be issued was July 18 and since the decree wasn't issued, the fact that INPS has stopped examining applications by foreigners "is now an exclusion of only foreigners to a service whose objective (getting out of poverty, including absolute poverty) cannot tolerate delays." 

Examination of applications by foreigners stopped July 5 

The letter from ASGI, which works to defend migrant rights and fight against discrimination, was addressed to INPS president Pasquale Tridico and director-general Gabriella Di Michele. 

In recent years, ASGI has won various legal battles, including a case in Lodi in which foreign children were being prevented from signing up for the school lunch program. 

ASGI's letter to INPS referred to an agency circular issued on July 5, which suspended examination of applications from foreigners. 

ASGI said that the suspension, which is "illegal in and of itself," was applied to "all non-EU citizens, including international protection holders, who are not a part of the decree because by law they are excluded from the obligation to submit identification documents." 

It said the ministry's failure to issue the decree cannot be reason to deny "a fundamental right" nor to inflict damage on foreign citizens.

'Resume examining applications immediately' 

ASGI called on INPS to "proceed immediately with examining applications by non-EU citizens in the same timeframe as for Italian citizens and without requesting additional documents."

ASGI said it has also previously criticized the "discriminatory effect" that the two requirements for the citizenship wage – a stay permit and 10 years of residency – would have, calling it "strongly restrictive for foreigners." 

The association said INPS data confirm "that of the 905,000 applications received as of July 17 (for a citizenship wage or retirement), only 6 percent are from non-EU citizens and only 3 percent are from EU citizens."

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