Friday, February 17, 2017

Great progress on Permesso di Soggiorno, step 1 to Lucy's citizenship

As much as I love coming to Italy for the beauty, food, people and tranquility, I also like the challenge of learning a new language and discovering how to get by on our own in a different land. Lucky thing, because now I have to figure out how to get Lucy’s citizenship here in Italy instead of at the Italian consulate in California. This new challenge is not entirely unwelcome, and we’re making progress every day.

On Tuesday, I went to the comune in Pescia, where my citizenship is registered. After leaving his window to consult with a colleague for a few minutes, the clerk came back and told me I’d have to go to the Prefettura in Lucca.

Wednesday, off to Lucca, where I found many offices for the Prefettura. On the fourth try, I found the right one and explained what we were seeking. The helpful clerk asked me a few questions and then spoke with a colleague on the phone. He explained that it would be a three-step process. First, get a permesso di soggiorno at the Questura. Second, apply for residency in the comune at Montecarlo. Third, come back to the Prefettura and apply for citizenship.

What a difference a few years and a little language learning makes! The clerk understood everything I said, and I understood everything he said—so different from our misadventures in Padova in 2001. So off to the Questura, and on the third try, I found the right office. I realized on approach that it had to be the right door, because dozens of multi-national immigrants and refugees were milling around or waiting in one of the four lines. Sportello 1 said it was for informazione and permesso, and it only had one person in line ahead of me.

I had read online a few years ago that one must first go a post office to get the needed forms and an appointment time, but I figured I’d try my luck directly at the Questura first. And it almost worked, but not quite, because I was missing the first item on the list: the applicant. The lady at the window looked at our passports and said all we needed to obtain the forms and an appointment was Lucy to appear in person.

So, Thursday, off we went together, arriving 10 minutes before opening hours so we’d be near the head of the line. After a 20-minute wait, we received our forms and an appointment for March 2, not too long to wait. And it appeared that the requirements weren’t too difficult: four photos (easily obtained at a photo booth), a marca da bollo tax sticker for 16 euro to be purchased at the nearest tabaccaio, copies of Lucy’s passport (including every stamped page), a copy of our registered marriage certificate from Pescia (which I already had), and a declaration from me that I was hosting the foreign visitor at my house, along with a copy of the main page of my passport. The application form consisted of only a half page of very basic information.

We went home to fill out the forms, buy the tax sticker and make the photocopies. I had a few questions about how to fill in several lines on the form, and then I came to one requirement that struck a note of fear in my heart, a line that said ‟Certificazione medica.” The lady at the desk had not mentioned or explained that, and it had a pen mark under it—or maybe through it—I couldn’t tell for sure.
Is that last line underlined or crossed out?

The reason I hadn’t been able to obtain a permesso di soggiorno during our year in Padova so long ago is that the clerk at the Questura there said we must have a medical insurance policy, translated into Italian. We had traveler’s insurance, and I had translated it with some help, but it didn’t cover preexisting conditions. The clerk had denied my application.

Not wanting to wait until March 2, Lucy and I went back today for clarification. ‟Questa linea, e' sottolineata o cancellata?” I asked. ‟Cancellata,” she answered. There would be no need for a medical certificate or insurance. I showed her my other questions, all easily answered, and then asked a final question: ‟Since I have all the documents filled out, the tax stamp and the photos, is there any way we can have an earlier appointment?”

She walked into a back office, then came out and looked at her calendar. How about February 18? Domani? Si, si! So we are close to completing step 1. I feel 99 percent certain I have everything we need and that we’ll be successful tomorrow. I’m not sure if we will receive the permesso the same day or if we’ll have to come back, but soon we’ll move on to step 2, the residency permit. I just went through that process myself last April, so I know it’s not complicated.

I don’t want to jinx this, but I may look up in Guinness what’s the world record for the fastest foreigner to obtain Italian citizenship, because Lucy just could be in the running!


Comments welcome.