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.
Tuesday, armed with translations, documents, apostilles, and exceedingly high hopes for someone with 1.5 hours of sleep in them, I got in the car at 4:00a and drove to my consulate appointment in Philadelphia.
My translations came in from Gabriella literally 10 hours before the consulate appointment (I was unable to make my approvals and corrections until after returning from Heron), so after discovering that my printer at home was out of ink (apparently, the rarity of black ink for an Epson printer must be close to that of Unicorn blood, I don’t know why else it would be so outrageously scarce and expensive), so I was forced to email the documents to a Kinkos nearby the consulate.
Philadelphia traffic was a little worse than I expected, so I found myself scrambling to get in and out of Kinkos before the appointment. Vaulting out the door and across the street, I stumbled on a curve, twisted my ankle and wound up on the ground. One of the worst sprains I’ve ever had (my ankle is still swollen and purple), I trembled back to my feet without any assistance from the dozens of Philadelphians that witnessed and dismissed. (I’m really glad the NJ Devils smacked you all around the ice, assholes).
Making my appointment (under extreme pain and fatigue), I sat down and waited in a waiting room that was very reminiscent of the DMV; white, slightly dingy walls festooned with public service announcements, bulletins and posters. At the front of the room there were service windows for different needs; passports, visas, citizenships, etc. I sat and nursed my ankle for about 40 minutes before I was called back.
I walked through a steel door in to an entirely different world. Behind the waiting room was a maze of large sitting rooms with ornate, wooden fireplaces, red leather chairs, volumes of large hardcover books and dozens of Italian workers. I was introduced to the woman who would process my citizenship, Amalia ‘Lia’ Verrecchia. A woman in her late 40’s, she had skin touched a healthy dose of sun, shoulder-length auburn hair, and a thick and beautiful Italian accent. She was instantly concerned about my ankle, which I assured her was worth it for this opportunity.
We began to go through my paperwork and fill out the actual applications. We went slowly through each family member, starting with my great-grandfather and worked all the way to myself. In the flurry of getting my translations printed, I hadn’t even had the full chance to fully review them, so I failed to match each document with its translation ahead of time. So, we had to spend some time together sorting. I learned all too late that I had only printed 1 of the 2 packages Gabriella delivered, so instantly I was panicked that I’d be booted and have to wait a whole new 2 years, but Lia assured me that this would be the last time I’d have to come to Philadelphia until I came to apply for my passport. This could all be done by mail.
One very surprising thing I hadn’t expected was that I didn’t need any documentation of my non-Italian relatives. My father’s, grandfather’s, and even my Italian great-grandmother’s paperwork was not needed at all. So in retrospect, I spent a lot of money and time on documents, apostilles and translations for items I never needed. But as always, I erred on the side of caution and was glad I was safe. Maybe I could have saved a few bucks, but in the grand scheme, no big deal.
One thing I did not have was any declarations of never renouncing citizenship (which are available on the IPS Italy website). These forms, which need to be notarized, are completed for all of the Italian line, living and non-living, and are formal declarations that the individual has never renounced their citizenship in the past. Living relatives needed to sign the form themselves, and I completed a different form on behalf of Salvatore and myself. Lia also told me to photocopy Driver’s Licenses of each living member and attach them.
Another quick note: I brought my clarification affidavit to the consulate expecting them to have a notary on hand, which they do not. Make sure you have all of your notarizations done ahead of time.
Together, Lia and I wrote a list of all of the last minute things I needed to get together, which amounted to the documents with missing translations, the aforementioned declarations, and the notarized clarification document. Then she gave me the holy grail of the citizenship pursuit: her business card. With the general number for the consulate, it is exceedingly difficult to get through to a human. Now that I had her phone number and my case number, I existed in her books and would be able to ring her up if I had any questions.
Returning home (after spending the whole evening icing the softball that had manifested inside of my ankle), I compiled all of the documents I needed, brought my mother and grandmother to the notary (AAA charges $5 per document, and is open late, by the way), wrote a quick cover letter to Lia and shipped it all first class FedEx to Philadelphia.
So now… I wait. I’m getting good at waiting for this citizenship, but this time is a little different, because what I’m waiting for isn’t a document or a translation or an apostille… I’m awaiting my citizenship document. Hopefully, by the end of the calendar year around December, I will get my proof of citizenship, straight from Naso, Italy, and then one final trip to Philadelphia should yield me my Italian Passport.
This feels good. Part of me never thought I’d make it here. Now I have idle-hand syndrome, but there is nothing else I can do but wait.
Total costs for this step: $113.93
- Gas to Philly and back: $72.75
- FedEx printing in Philly: $3.36
- Notarizations at AAA: $25.00
- First class shipping back to Philly: $12.82
Total costs so far: $735.04