30 April 2014

I Swear (Becoming Italian, part 6)

 I continued to check the website of the Ministero dell’Interno almost daily. Once I’d deleted my old profile that had the wrong K-number and wrong submission date, everything was as it had been.  In other words, nothing had changed. The application was still being reviewed.

Then, A. texted to say that she’d gotten a call from R.. My documents were ready. R. had tried to call me, but the number didn’t work.

We went to the Prefettura where R. showed us the decree. She thought that it’d take longer if she mailed it, so she tried to call to tell us to come see her but our phone number didn’t work. Turns out, she had misread my phone number on the application. They don’t just speak differently in Italy, they write their numbers differently, too. Always mistaking my “6”s for “4”s and stuff……

I took the decree to the Comune, made an appointment to take the oath, went back a week later, the mayor read the decree and I  took the oath, signed my name on the giant pieces of paper that go in the large books in the town hall, handed over my Permesso di Soggiorno and got my new Carta d’Identita. And popped open the bottle of proseco my friends had brought with them.

One year and three weeks from the date I submitted my application, I was granted citizenship.  They still had eleven months to decide, according to the law. Not bad, Italia.

Now, to get a passport.

Everything's Green (Becoming Italian part 5)

 For a year, I was checking the status of my citizenship application online.  Every day, the status was the same: L'istruttoria è stata avviata. Si è in attesa dei pareri necessari alla definizione della pratica (The preliminary investigation is started. One is waiting for the necessary opinions to the definition of the request) until one day, it wasn’t.

The first week of February, a year after I’d submitted my application, the status changed. It now said “The request is not accepted. Check with the Prefeturra.”

I freaked. It was a Thursday afternoon and I couldn’t find anyone to come with me to the Prefeturra to find out what the problem was. I didn’t trust my lack of Italian skills.

On Monday, armed with copies of all my documenti, two Italian friends and their friend who works somewhere in the Prefeturra or the Questura, we went to find out what was up.

Our first stop was in the Questura. The uniformed woman behind the counter listened as we explained what we saw on the website and proceeded to ask the following questions.

“You were born on January 17th?”

Um, yes…..

“Your husband is an Italian citizen?”

And on, and on, as though this was my first time meeting someone in the citizenship office to discuss my application.

I wanted to say, “Uh, yeah. That’s why applied. And why my application was accepted by the people in the citizenship office. Why are you asking me these questions? Why are we even talking to you?”

I decided instead to smile pleasantly and let all the Italians do their thing where they answer such questions as though they’re not redundant and imbecilic and trash talk the bureaucratic system and the bureaucrats themselves.

She made a phone call and we walked over to visit R. in the citizenship office.

“Why you didn’t call me? Why you go to the Questura?”

“Because, if I call you, maybe I don’t understand what you say. I no speak Italian well and on telephone is more difficult for me,” I replied.
She tapped her keyboard with her fuchsia fingernails and declared that according to the internal website,  “everything is green”.  All of the Italians seemed pleased. I was not.

“OK, but on the website where I check my status, it is written my application not accepted.”

After ten minutes of “but everything is green” and “but the minister’s website says it’s not”, she finally logged into the website as me.

“The application number is wrong. And the application date.”

The Italians all smiled knowingly at each other. Obviously, the straniera had screwed up and caused all this drama for nothing.

I knew I hadn’t screwed up. I knew I’d taken the number straight from the letter they’d sent me and quadruple checked it when I set up my profile.

“Here. Here is my letter from the Ministry. See? The number is the same.”

Turns out, whoever had typed the letter had typed the number correctly at the top of the letter but incorrectly in the body of the letter. Guess which one I’d used for the profile?

So, everything was indeed green. For me. I was told the investigation should probably be complete by May or maybe June. Some other poor soul, however, with that other k-number was sadly not as lucky.