by Melinda Gallo

A possible path to obtaining Italian citizenship

One thing that I have learned is that I should never let anything stop me because there is more than one way to achieve a goal. I was pretty upset when I was told by the Italian consulate in the US last February that I did not qualify for Italian citizenship because my nonno (grandfather) was an American citizen when my father was born. The other day while looking for information about the requirements for renewing my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) I found that I might still qualify for Italian citizenship.

On the Stranieri in Italia website I had read that I can reclaim Italian citizenship through my nonno after being a legal resident in Italy for at least two years.

I was so excited when I found out that I tried calling the citizenship office on Monday morning. No one answered the phone, but that didn't stop me. I tried calling every day, and finally yesterday I spoke to a nice man who gave me all the information, which is on the website and assured me that I do qualify.

Most of the documents I have already, like my certificato di nascita del nonno (grandfather's birth certificate) and my certificato di nascita; however, I need to get the translation of mine validated by the Italian Consulate in the US. I also have to get a certificato generale del casellario giudiziale (general certificate of court records) from the Tribunale di Firenze (Florence court), which I was told would take only a few minutes.

The one document I didn't have yet, which will take the longest, is an FBI Identification Record Request. I found out that the response would take about 16 to 18 weeks to receive.

In order to get things rolling I went to the American Consulate this morning to get a letter to take to the questura (police station). I was told that I needed one in order for them to take my impronte digitali (fingerprints) for this FBI Identification Record Request.

I called the American Consulate yesterday to ask them what I needed to do. I did some research on the Internet, but I figured that the American Consulate must deal with this sort of request all the time as it is the Italian government that is requesting the information. Fortunately, I spoke with a woman who told me that I needed to come in on Tuesday or Thursday in the morning, bring my passport, and 24 Euros.

After standing outside in the rain for at least ten minutes and then waiting inside for at least another half hour, my number was finally called. I told the man what I needed and he filled out a letter that was then signed by the Consul.

I walked along the Arno as the clouds were clearing and was happy that now I am one step closer to obtaining my Italian citizenship. I was told, however, that I'll have to wait at least three years for the office to give me a response regarding my Italian citizenship and in the meantime, I have to still work on my permesso di soggiorno. So, my worries are far from over, but at least I still might be able to get Italian citizenship at some point.

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