The holy grail of the process. The tangible proof. The gateway.
One thing is for sure: The Italians are an opaque bunch, at least when it comes to citizenship.
When I last wrote about the IDC process, it was February 2013. I had received a strange envelope from Italy. It contained voting ballots, the first on-paper proof of my Citizenship. Gratifying, yes. But I was slightly surprised that I never received any official proof that my application was accepted. No ‘Benvenuto in Italia’. No fancy, embossed letter recognizing the arduous path I walked. Nothing to frame and hang next to my diplomas.
Pictured above is definitive proof that my application for dual citizenship has been processed and granted. I got a strange package over the weekend from the Italian Consulate. I ripped it open, expecting to see my passport application. Instead, a bunch of documents written in Italian and two strange cards, one red, one blue. My poor Italian skills aside, I was able to figure out exactly what they were: election ballots for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the two houses of the Italian parliament.
The pursuit of Italian Dual Citizenship feels like a long process of two steps forward, one step back. The tightly woven fabric of complications intrinsic to Italian bureaucracy, American bureaucracy, fading historical records and difficult language barriers creates an insane obstacle course that one must navigate to obtain their second passport.
This month, with Blue Heron poking its fingers deep in my pockets, I had to alter my approach to translations a little bit.
Originally, I had intended on asking Audra DeFalco to translate my documents. When she gave me the estimate, it was more expensive than I hadexpected. However, I’m compelled to tell you some wonderful things about Audra even though I eventually ended up using a different translator.
I’m just about ready. I have all of my documents, finally, and translations are beginning.
I’m doing my best to avoid a horror story at the consulate…
After doing some more research on other people’s experience with the Philadelphia consulate, I’m growing more and more concerned about some small discrepancies with my application. Specifically, the spelling of some first names.
Apostilles, in effect, are very similar to a notarization. Though instead of a private agency affixing the seal and signature, it is the Department of State for the state in which the document originates.
There seems to be some discrepancies regarding which documents are required to be apostilled. Some consulate documents say that every document requires it, some say that only ones referring to direct bloodline are required, but either way, I played it safe and had every single state document apostilled – 14 in total.
The last document…. I swear. And I have it (sorta).
Finding marriage applications for both my parents and grandparents was easy enough. I called the county clerks of the locations where both weddings occurred and I was able to simply request the documents. The marriage license application for my great-grandparents (circa 1924), was a little more difficult and it is officially the only document that doesn’t exist.
Unbelievably, my trip down to the USCIS office paid off.
Yesterday, I got two certified copies of Sam’s Naturalization Certificate!
In true American Government fashion, they are crappy photocopies, but the embossed Department of Homeland Security stamp should prove it sufficient enough to satisfy even the most picky of consulates.
So lets talk about the elephant in the room, the naturalization certificate.
Disclaimer: Warning! This is going to be a long post, so if you want the readers digest version, here are some bullet points:
- Naturalization certificates may be difficult to get from a county court.
- The USCIS Genealogy program does not make certified copies. Don’t bother asking.
- In the event you can’t get a certified copy of a naturalization certificate from the court house where the naturalization happened, you may be able to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get these documents.
- It is unclear if the consulate will even require the naturalization certificates to be certified because it is so difficult to get a non-original. Asking your consulate is a good idea, and I erred on the side of caution by forcing myself to get a copy.
Now, the long version of the story:
My aunt Margie had sent me a photocopy of Sam’s naturalization certificate. I put off asking to borrow it, assuming it would be a simple matter. It was my foolish mistake to assume that she had the original document, but alas, our family record keeping isn’t as cohesive as I wish it were. So it was off to find the naturalization certificate myself. (This citizenship process is often a lonely one)
I was dreading the search for Marriage License Applications, but it they weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.
My parents and grandparents’ certificates were easy. I called the circuit courts/county clerks of both Allegheny County, MD and Mineral County, WV. All I had to do was write them a letter with what I wanted, drop in a check ($5.50 for MD, $6.00 for WV), and mail it off.