A few years ago, I discovered that I could claim Italian citizenship, as well as retain my American citizenship. You can imagine my pleasure at receiving this news! I quickly set about gathering all the information and documents that I would need in order to prove that I truly was eligible for this great honor. Evidently, since my parents were still Italian citizens at the time of my birth (they were naturalized a few years later), I was an Italian citizen by birth rite (or juris sanguinus). This was wonderful news…
The decision then came of what I should do first – should I gather all the information needed prior to making an appointment with the Citizenship office at the Italian consulate in San Francisco, or should I make the appointment first and then gather all the information? I decided to have everything in my possession first because what if they could get me in REALLY soon to present all my documents! You can imagine my shock when I was told that I would have to wait 9 months in order for an appointment! “Everyone wants to become an Italian citizen,” was what I was told when I called! Yikes! Why such a popular thing to do, I wondered. So I began to research the benefits of holding dual citizenship (granted, I only wanted mine because I wanted to connect further with the land of my heart) . The benefits were numerous and quite impressive. Primarily, as an Italian citizen you also become a member of the EU. Therefore, working in the EU becomes much easier if you hold a passport to any country that is part of the EU. Therefore, if an American employer has an office within the EU and they are looking to transfer one of their employees to work in Europe, the one holding citizenship has an advantage because they do not have to get a work VISA for the transfer. This was all fine and dandy, but it didn’t really affect me much because I wasn’t planning on working in Italy! But, it did impress me for the benefit of my children – this might come in handy for them as they begin their careers. The other benefits include free medical care and free education. Again, these could be very beneficial for me and my family if we ever found ourselves in Italy and in need of care (or if we get the urge to take some classes at the University!) But, for me, the most valuable benefit included the purchase of property in Italy! Evidently, it is much easier to purchase property in Italy if you are a citizen, and the tax implications are very much reduced. Even though, I don’t own any property YET, this is always in my dreams…therefore, now I can say that I am ready when the opportunity arises! I subsequently also found out that you cannot purchase a car in Italy if you are not a citizen. This seems a bit harsh and am not really sure if it is true.
OK, so after waiting the obligatory 9 months (and the whole time worrying if I had everything in order…and not really being able to contact anyone at the consulate because they only do things via email, and even then, will not respond to any questions if they feel that the answer can be found anywhere on their website), the big day arrived. I arrived at the beautiful ornate mansion that sits on top of a hill in Pacific Heights and waited for my interview. I was thrilled when I found out that I had everthing I needed! My information would all be sent to the town in Italy that I chose as my “birthplace” and I would be OFFICIAL! Interestingly, I could choose between my father’s birthplace and my mother’s birthplace to register as my own. My Italian cousins think that I am truly spoiled – imagine, being able to choose your birthplace!!! Within two weeks I received my citizenship! And with it was the application for the passport! Yahoo! My very own Italian passport. Promptly, I filled out the necessary application, took some horrid passport photos, and sent in my fee! Again, everything arrived promptly and I was thrilled as punch. Not too difficult, I said.
This all happened in 2008! And now, I’ve decided to request citizenship for my daughters (which I was told was fairly simple since all the necessary documentation had already been submitted with my application). The only things I needed were their individual documents (birth certificates, etc). Thankfully, I find out that I would be dealing with another office at the Consulate and not the citizenship office. This office was much more ammenable to e-mail correspondence and I could therefore get much more information about the items needed. I was assured that all I had to do was bring the necessary documents for presentation and voila` – instant citizenship for my daugthers! A little bit of information we forgot to discuss was that THEY NEEDED TO BE PRESENT!!! You can imagine my disappointment, and also frustration, when I found this out. My daughters are away at school and work and therefore organizing a day or time to visit the consulate is going to prove to be a challenge! We are SO close…I only hope that we will be able to finish this process soon.
Almost my entire family will be taken care of except for my husband! His citizenship request is a bit more complicated since he must do a couple of extra steps to insure that he is worthy of Italian citizenship – he must get clearance from both the State Police as well as the FBI! We will now have to figure out how we go about getting these clearances since we’ve never really had need before to contact the FBI for ANYTHING!!!