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.
Maybe I was romanticizing it too much. After all, this isn’t a coming of age tale. It’s not a Bar Mitzvah. Distilled to its simplest ingredients, it’s a legal loophole to reconcile for the migration of Italians whose immediate family has chosen to take roots elsewhere. It’s just legislation; there is nothing righteous about it. It’s no more romantic in essence than a trip to the DMV.
But it doesn’t feel like that. At least to me. The crucibles of this process contain a vision of being able to move abroad with a girlfriend I no longer see. It seemed like a cheat code for life; the company I worked for at the time wasn’t willing to sponsor a visa for anywhere in the EU. This was my back door.
But it’s 2015 now. It’s been 6 years. And I’ve grown. Now, I see this piece of a paper as less of a ‘lifehack’ and more of evidence of my connection to another world; my own crucibles. It’s just as much about the journey my immigrant family took to get to the US as it is about my new found citizenship back in Europe. It not only makes me ‘feel’ more Italian. It makes me feel more American. It’s a sobering reminder of the struggles my ancestors persevered through on the way to a life with more opportunities. It’s just another reminder that, like most Americans, nobody is really from here. We’re a nation of immigrants; crossing seas and fighting uphill battles to maximize our opportunities and become better humans.
So maybe that’s the right way to close this chapter of my life. To view it for what it represents. It’s a little piece of paper that took a whole lot of work to obtain. And it symbolizes my connection to roots that were always there. Roots we all have, in one form or another. The book is closed, but the epilogue is endless.
The total cost my Italian Dual Citizenship: $894.89, postage alone accounted for $105.94 of the total.
And 6 years of waiting. Admittedly, the first 3 were the really active portion. It contained visits to courthouses, road trips to Philadelphia, letters exchanged with a tiny town Italy, research requests to state archive offices, apostilles, translations, corrections to forms, and of course my Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security. It was a trip through the bowels of bureaucratic underbellies and it ended with an empty book, yearning to be filled with stamps.
14 official documents, >100 letters to every flavor of archive office, 14 certified translations, 14 state-sponsored apostilles, hundreds of miles driven.
But also quality time with my family, especially my grandmother who graciously spent some afternoons in courthouses with me. I have a new set of insights (and tangible evidence) of a complex family tree. A narrative that starts with a curious man looking for opportunity in a new land with his wife, his eventual death and his brother’s family obligation to take care of the family that now proudly boasts almost 300 Americans with a wide spectrum of experiences, histories, and talents.
I started this blog to share experiences and to guide others along the way, a mission I intend to continue. So get in touch with me if you hit a bump on your own path to citizenship! It’s worth it. It’s frustrating, but it’s worth it.