Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We want to be official residents, but please, no permesso di soggiorno!

Monday, February 29
“It’s time to suck up my courage and go to city hall and apply for our residence here,” I told Lucy when I woke up this morning. Our friend Angelika, who proved so indispensable as an interpreter when we did our house purchasing last year, had some surgery recently and has not been available to help us this February.

So with a notebook full of all of our vital documents, I set off for the Municipio di Montecarlo, feeling a bit like a new student going to a strange school. At least I only had to walk half a block down via Roma. The receptionist directed me to the office of Anagrafe, which keeps track of registered city residents.

“My wife and I have just bought a house in Montecarlo,” I said. “What do we need to become residents?

The bill of sale for the house, our passports and our codici fiscali are needed, all of which I had ready in the front of my documents folder. I proffered my Italian passport and Lucy’s American passport.

“Oh, and then you will also need your wife’s permesso di soggiorno, since she isn’t an Italian citizen,” said the clerk, Signora Giuntoli. “If she doesn’t have it, you’ll have to go to the Questura in Lucca for it.”

Mamma Mia! The words permesso di soggiorno make me want to cry and laugh at the same time. Fifteen years ago, when I spent a year teaching 5th grade in Padova, we went to the Questura six times trying to get this document. In the end, we were denied because our travelers insurance was deemed inadequate as the required “proof of insurance” (see Sad saga of our permesso di soggiorno). Well, now it will be worse, because we actually have no insurance! We are members of a healthcare sharing program called Samaritan Ministries, which functions in a way similar to insurance, but I don’t even want to begin trying to explain that in Italian. Even if I could, and even though The Affordable Care Act exempts Samaritan members from the insurance requirement, Samaritan is still not technically considered insurance. Lucy is not going to be able to get a permesso di soggiorno.

I took a slow walk back to our apartment and sat down with Lucy to discuss our options. Since that year in Padova, we have never needed a permesso, because it’s only required for stays of longer than three months. Even this time, living in our own Montecarlo house, we’ll be going back to the U.S. in May to start our summer work, so we’ll be here just under three consecutive months. If we could somehow get a permesso for Lucy, I read online that the process still takes at least five months, and by that time we’ll be back in Gig Harbor.

The long-term solution is for Lucy to get her Italian citizenship. She is eligible as the wife of an Italian citizen, but we’ve been putting it off. The steps to her citizenship, like most other Italian processes, looked to be time-consuming. It was something we were planning to do one of these days but didn’t feel any particular need to do right away. We were able to get her codice fiscale and buy a house without her needing citizenship, but now we definitely need it.

I looked online to remind myself of what is needed, and it looks like we’ll have to wait until we’re back in the states to start the process. We need to get documents from the FBI and state and local police showing Lucy has no criminal record, and for that she’ll need to be fingerprinted at a local police station and the prints sent to the FBI. Hopefully we can do that in May and then submit her application to the Italian Consulate in San Francisco in the summer.

Meanwhile, it occurred to me that I didn’t need to wait for Lucy, so I went back to the city hall and said that I wanted to apply for residence now, and we would do Lucy later. That should work, Sra Giuntoli said. When did I want to start? Il prima possibile, I said, and so she began filling out the online form, a process that took about twenty minutes. She called the city office in Pescia, where my citizenship is registered, to verify my data, and after making copies of all my documents and printing out the application, she said I could have an appointment immediately. So we went upstairs to another office, and I waited another ten minutes while a different clerk filled out more forms on her computer.

The Italian government loves rubber stamps, and I noticed that the clerk had no fewer than eight different stamps on her desk. The clerk next to her must have fewer responsibilities, because she only had seven stamps. After printing out her work and using a couple of the stamps, she announced that I was done. Sometime within the next forty-five days, the police are supposed to come to verify that we are living at our stated address, and then my residence will be confirmed.

I am elated that I was able to do this all myself, and also a little surprised at how easy it was. I’m not used to having such instant success when working with Italian governmental agencies, but it’s a sign that times are changing—and for this kind of change I have absolutely no complaints.

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