Tag Archives: italian citizenship

The World Has One More Italian Citizen

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After 2 1/2 years of waiting patiently for my husband to get his Italian citizenship through marriage, the wait is finally over!  He received his decree from the Ministero dell’Interno announcing that he was granted Italian citizenship!

We were invited to participate in the swearing in ceremony this past Friday, along with 5 other lucky and worthy new citizens at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco,  We were ushered upstairs after hours to a beautiful room in the magnificent mansion in Pacific Heights which houses the Consulate.

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There we were greeted by the Consul General himself, Mr. Mauro Battochi.  He welcomed all the new citizens and read an official decree conferring Italian citizenship to them.  He indicated that Italy now had about 60,000,000 citizens worldwide!  After that, they all had to swear their allegiance with this oath:

Giuro di essere fedele alla Repubblica Italiana ed al suo capo e di osservare lealmente le leggi dello stato.

I swear to be faithful to the Italian Republic and it’s head and to faithfully observe the laws of the State.

Luckily for all of them, they read it as a group and no one was singled out for trying to say and pronounce it solo!

Following this little official swearing in, each new citizen signed some more official papers and then we all celebrated with a prosecco toast!  Everyone we met was so nice and happy to be new citizens of beautiful Italy!

My husband’s citizenship has now completed my little family’s dual citizenship status, and I couldn’t be more proud of the two great nations that we are now part of!

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Waiting….waiting….and still waiting

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June 10, 2011…the day my husband presented all his required documentation to the young gentleman at the San Francisco Italian Consulate for his request to become an Italian citizen through marriage.  He had with him all the police and FBI records indicating that he wasn’t a hardened criminal and he was definitely worthy of Italian citizenship.  “Your request will be processed and you will receive your citizenship within 2 years of this meeting” is what we were told.  Gosh, 2 years?  Ok, well it is what it is so we knew we had to be patient.

Patiently waiting....

Patiently waiting….

Fast forward to November 20, 2013…and guess what?  We have not heard a peep from anyone….niente, nulla, zip!  If my calculations are correct, we are now at almost 2 1/2 years since our meeting.  Hmm…what’s the holdup?   Is his paperwork sitting on someone’s desk at some Ministry office in Italy, or worse yet, it is still sitting on that gentleman’s desk at the consulate’s office in San Francisco, never having begun its journey?

Hopefully his paperwork isn't it this stack?

Hopefully his paperwork isn’t in this stack?

So, silly me decides to try to see if I can find out,  even though I have very little hope of getting a satisfactory answer since San Francisco’s Italian Consulate is not exactly user-friendly.  But, maybe, since they have a new Consul General and they seem to be doing more within the Italian community, things have taken a change for the better?  There’s always a chance and you don’t know until you try, right?

My first attempt (and the least obtrusive) is to try by sending an email (since this seems to be their preferred method of communication).  One email goes unanswered.  Then the second…  Maybe the third time will be the charm, I hope.  But nope, once again, nothing.

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OK,  time to take the 2nd line of attack – the phone call.

So I looked up the direct line for the citizenship office and I dialed the number, just to get a recording which very bluntly stated:  “That mailbox is full  and is not accepting any messages!”  Hmm….ok….so I decided to give them a few days to empty out their messages.  When I tried again a week later, guess what?  I got the same message.

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So at this point I decided to try the Consulate’s main line.  And big surprise,  I struck out there as well.  It started off promising when I actually got a person on the other end, but as soon as I began speaking and she heard the word “citizenship” (and, mind you, she didn’t even give me the opportunity to finish saying the word), she transferred me to that darn mailbox that was full!  Really?

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At this point, my blood is starting to boil (something that happens every time I have to deal with them) because I feel totally helpless and completely at their mercy.  They have an attitude that they can do whatever they want and no one can touch them… and I’m sure they enjoy this feeling of power.  I’m just thankful that I don’t have to deal with them for something REALLY important.  Consul Generals seem to come and go, hopes rise that things will be different, but in reality, nothing changes and the service to their citizens seems to get more and more lacking.  Why does such a beautiful country like Italy have such dark places within their bureaucracy?  It makes me sad to think that the country of my heart is so cold when it comes to taking care of their own.

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I may be sabatoging my husband’s chances of ever getting his citizenship with my ramblings here but sometimes it feels good to vent….and hopefully, one day soon, we will hear some good news from them.

Italian Citizenship and the Apostille

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What the heck is an apostille, you may be asking, and I assure you, I felt the same way before I started this whole dual citizenship process.  Well, here is my answer:  it is an official way of verifying that American documents are the real thing!!!  Birth, marriage, death certificates as well as other “official” documents require an apostille to authenticate them and the signatures that are on them.  Local documents, such as those issued by the counties, cities, and states are “apostilled” by the particular state that the documents are from.  So, in my case, all of my documents had to be “apostilled” by the California Dept. of State.  Now, this is different that the State Department – that is a federal office (the one that Hilary belongs to).  This can get very confusing when you are speaking to the Consulate office and asking for help – you need to be really careful that you are meaning the correct one!  I speak from experience 🙂

Anyway, apostilles are needed when applying for Italian citizenship – you need them on birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and in the case of Citizenship by Marriage, on police record reports issued by the Dept. of Justice.

The process of obtaining an apostille is really very simple once you have the correct documents.  The documents must be originals with the signature and the stamp of the issuing office.  These documents can be obtained from the County or City Records department for a fee.  If you are obtaining the Police record report, you must submit fingerprints to the Dept. of Justice and then request that the report include the stamp and signature of the State official (currently Kamala Harris).  Once you have the correct documents, you can mail them to the California Secretary of State….or you can just take a drive to Sacramento and present them yourself!  This was the path I took…and it was painless!  The process took about 20 minutes total!  They take your document (and a $26/document fee) and staple a pretty official looking paper to it which contains a beautiful gold seal of the Golden State!  Voila!  This part of the paper gathering trail is all done and really very simple to do!

My Dual Citizenship – A Lesson in Patience

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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!!!