View of the Palazzo della Consulta, Italy's Constitutional Court, on the Quirinale Hill in Rome | Photo: Angelo Carconi / ANSA
View of the Palazzo della Consulta, Italy's Constitutional Court, on the Quirinale Hill in Rome | Photo: Angelo Carconi / ANSA

The Italian Constitutional Court ruled that non-EU migrants with long-term residence in Italy have the right to receive the household allowance benefit just like Italians, even if their family members stayed behind in their country of origin.

Long-term, non-EU residents in Italy who have a work permit must be treated the same as Italians when it comes to the right to the household allowance benefit, according to a ruling by the Italian Constitutional Court.

The ruling said these migrants are entitled to the benefit even if their family members, such as spouse and children, temporarily reside in their country of origin. The judges set forth equal treatment for the recipients of this benefit, which is both needs-based as well as a social support program.

'Cornerstone ruling'

In the ruling last Friday, the Consulta (Constitutional Court) applied European law, which it called "the cornerstone on which the community of national courts rests, held together by converging rights and obligations." The ruling was filed Monday as no. 67/2022.

Courts have been supporting this line of thinking for years, as has the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), which often protects non-EU migrants in court against Italian social security agency INPS.

The Italian supreme Cassation Court raised the issue, calling for further examination, after an EU judge maintained that discriminating distinctions are not tolerable. Following the Constitutional Court's ruling, judges with jurisdiction in this area must no longer apply the rules regarding the household allowance (ANF) that distinguish between family members living in the household and those living elsewhere.

'Families must be helped, even if members live in different countries'

"The family must be helped even if it lives across different geographic borders, perhaps for reasons of war, religious culture, or contingent situations," said ASGI attorney Alberto Guariso, who participated in the hearing before the Constitutional Court.

"This ruling filed by the Consulta is very important. Now the country's public administration, and therefore INPS, must also directly follow the ruling, granting the household allowance to all non-EU workers in our country who have legal documents, even if they have a wife and children who stayed in their country of origin," Guariso said.

"Even the many Ukrainian home carers who work in our homes and left their families in their country of origin are entitled to this allowance. For some time it has no longer been reserved for the male breadwinner."

Possibility to apply for arrears

Guariso went on to explain that "those who have been excluded from this benefit can apply for arrears for the last five years, up until February 28, 2022."

After that, another regulation came, about which INPS still has to issue clear explanations in order to ensure the right is applied universally. "We are waiting for them. Equality must be respected where European law requires it," said Guariso.

"Giving the allowance even to those who do not have their family nearby also serves the host country because it is a measure that favors economic development, lowers conflict and allows for the maintenance of a two-way link with the country of origin, instead of cutting ties, which is always a negative thing," Guariso concluded.


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