Anyone planning a long-term trip to Italy or looking to apply for Italian dual citizenship must visit the Italian Consulate in their home country first. Consider it your initiation into Italy.
Despite the typical stereotype many of us Americans have in our minds about Italians (you know, warm, friendly, ready-to-feed-you-an-abundance-of-food-and-adopt-you-into-the-family-instantly attitude), the employees at the Italian Consulate aren’t exactly the most friendly kind. In fact like most other bureaucratic government employees, they can be impatient, rude, unwelcoming and the least bit helpful. I’m not saying that they are bad people – its just that they deal with a lot of paperwork and have to put up with constantly changing and varying laws. Needless to say, visiting the Italian consulate is a not-so-pleasant process, but there are few things you can do to make it just a *little* less frustrating and help you get you out of the consulate office and into Italy quicker. Here are 8 things you should know before visiting the Italian Consulate in the U.S.
1. Always identify the Italian Consulate office that has jurisdiction over the document you are trying to get issued. Each state belongs to a different consulate. Check here to identify your consulate. Once you find it, contact them first to double check that you have the right consulate (Some documents require you to go to the consulate nearest to where you attended school, while others require you to go to the consulate nearest to where you live).
2. Each Italian Consulate office follows slightly different procedures and regulations. That being said, just because your friend down in Miami was issued a visa, doesn’t mean that you will be – even if your cases are similar. You should always follow the procedures that your consulate advises you and be aware that their requirements may differ from others.
3. Be your own super-secretary. Organization is key. Go ahead and invest in some good office supplies. A nice hard binder or folder is a good idea to keep all of your documents clean, safe and in order. Use transparent pockets to protect your application and separate the copies from the originals. Keep a checklist as well and make sure you have all your required documents with you before submitting your application. If the consulate provides a checklist on their website, sort your documents in order of the consulate’s checklist. When filing in forms, read carefully and write neatly in black ink. If you mess up, don’t scribble over it or use white out – fill in a new form.
4. Get on first name basis with one of the employees. Ok so this might sound a little extreme and probably isn’t necessary in all cases, but if you have a special circumstance or particular application, you might want to go ahead and call the consulate to inquire about your case. They’ll probably put you through to a specific office or even a specific person. Make sure when speaking to him or her you get there name and if possible, direct phone number. This way, if you have to call again you’ll know exactly who to ask for.
5. Be a copy cat. Make at least 2 copies of all your documents. 3 to be on the safe side. You can never have enough copies. Never. (*sorry trees*)
6. Always make an appointment with the Italian Consulate and be sure to show up at least 10 minutes before your appointment time. Most consulates will not even look at you if you don’t have an appointment with them. I always like to show up early as well, as sometimes it might take awhile to find the office or you might have to go through security. You’ll probably end up waiting past your appointment time once your in the office, but still its always better to be early.
7. Study your consulate’s website. Each consulate has different hours, rules and procedures. You’ll want to read through your consulate’s site first for information relevant to your application and appointment procedures. Sometimes you’ll also find application forms that you need to print out and fill in before completing your application.
8. Brace yourself with a smile. No matter how cold they seem, no matter how rude they are, you must remember that they hold your application’s fate in their hands. If they initially reject your application or demand more documentation, you may inquire why or ask for more information, but you should do so with respect. Just be firm but polite and try to not lost your temper, even if you’re ready to boil over.
Good luck and may the Italian gods of fortune be with you.
Have a tip for the visiting the Italian consulate? Just need to vent your frustrations? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below!