Officialization 12: Stay Permit, part IV

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View from La Sacra di San Michele, near Torino.

Officialization TOC

  1. Officialization 1: WTF comes next in Italy?
  2. Officialization 2: Apartment
  3. Officialization 3: Internet
  4. Officialization 4: Stay Permit, part I
  5. Officialization 5: Picking Courses
  6. Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II
  7. Officialization 7: TV Tax
  8. Officialization 8: Stay Permit, part III
  9. Officialization 9: Residenzia
  10. Officialization 10: Health Insurance
  11. Officialization 11: Thesis Registration
  12. Officialization 12: Stay Permit, part IV <– You are here
  13. Officialization 13: Going to the doctors

Stay Permit, part IV

It’s been 11 months since we arrived in Italy. You might be wondering why I am writing about stay permits now, so much later. Yeeaaa. It’s because my husband still hasn’t gotten his.

Last I wrote about this, a lady at Cinformi helped us submit his documents to Questura, even without the  proof that our apartment was larger than the minimum for two people of 45 meters squared. We did eventually need to get that proof. We had to walk up a hill a kilometer to the east, to a municipal office different from the main municipal office, which was located in a very strange place. It was near a fish hatchery, and after a very creepy parking lot… a place that is very difficult to find, even with the address, because Google doesn’t even send you to the right spot. Inside the building, it was also difficult to find the correct office. I had to ask a random worker to help me find the “segreteria” (secretary’s office), who was then able to assist me with my issue.

The secretary was able to look up our apartment in the archives, where they had a physical repository of apartment architectural specifications. We had to come back a couple days later to pick up the documents, and we had to pay another 32 or so euro for the tax stamps (marche da bollo). We submitted these documents to Questura (immigration) many months ago, and waited.

Questura had to send police officers to our house to ensure that my husband was, in fact, living here. They decided to do this on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. We were gone on vacation that weekend, and it took months for them to send more officers. They wouldn’t tell us when the officers were coming, I guess so we couldn’t fake anything.

In the meanwhile, Questura lost that apartment document.

Since Questura apparently can’t figure out how to call non-Italian phone numbers (in fact, most government offices here can’t), we didn’t find out about this for a little while. When we went back to them to ask what was up, we were pretty annoyed, but there wasn’t much we could do. So we had to go back to the weird place to get another copy and resubmit it (paying all the costs again), and now we are waiting on Questura again.

I’ll be done with my master’s thesis soon (in October if all goes well), and we had wanted to go traveling around Europe for a few months, but if the stay permit doesn’t come through, that might not be possible. Looking at the time we have left and how long each of these steps seems to take, I don’t think my husband is going to get his stay permit before I’m done.

Ridiculous.

Officialization 10: Health Insurance

Antifa street art in Bologna.

Officialization TOC

  1. Officialization 1: WTF comes next in Italy?
  2. Officialization 2: Apartment
  3. Officialization 3: Internet
  4. Officialization 4: Stay Permit, part I
  5. Officialization 5: Picking Courses
  6. Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II
  7. Officialization 7: TV Tax
  8. Officialization 8: Stay Permit, part III
  9. Officialization 9: Residenzia
  10. Officialization 10: Health Insurance <– You are here
  11. Officialization 11: Thesis Registration
  12. Officialization 12: Stay Permit, part IV

Health Insurance

I paid for the Italian national health insurance for 2018 when I was first applying for my stay permit. Now that I received my stay permit, it was time to actually sign up for the insurance.

This is done at yet another government office, separate from the others, called the Agenzia Sanitaria. I received a copy of the form that said at the top of it “Azendia Provinciale per i Servizi Sanitari”, which I had to fill out from the Welcome Office at school. At the time, I didn’t understand that that phrase at the top of the form was the name of the office and the uni neglected to give me the full address of the office. Therefore, I had some trouble googling the location of the office, but I finally found it at Via S. Giovanni Bosco 6 in Rovereto.

Upon arrival, I found the Anagrafe Sanitaria in the Segreteria’s office on the left hand side. It’s good that I came right as they opened because the line grew very quickly behind me. Once I got to the window, the lady asked me for my documents:

  • passport
  • permesso di soggiorno (stay permit)
  • proof of payment of health insurance (long top of a paper from the post office)
  • codice fiscale
  • iscrizione (proof of university enrollment)
  • the name of a local general practitioner doctor that will become your main doctor (if you don’t know one, I think they provide you with some options, but it’s better to find someone who speaks English ahead of time)

I had to scramble for some of the items, but since I have taken to carrying all of my documents to every government office every time, I ended up having everything with me. As for the name of the doctor, I got that from a friend who had been to one that apparently speaks English. I have never been there before, so I hope that when I have to go for my thyroxine medication, it all goes smoothly.

However, as the lady started to look up my information from the codice fiscale, something went wrong with her system. She started talking to her colleague, who pulled in another colleague, and another, and soon, everyone was all in a flurry, trying to help this lady figure out her system. I didn’t fully understand what was going on, but apparently the problem had to do with the fact that I was born in the Soviet Union (before its collapse), but my passport and documents all say I was born in Russia. Somehow, this impeded the creation of some sort of internal code or something like that. A frustrating 15 minutes later, they had finally figured out how to reconcile the difference. They gave me a certificate confirming my enrollment and a paper with the doctor’s hours, and I was done. However, because of this slowdown, I missed my last train to work before the 2 hour break in trains.

I would like to point out that it has been 5 months out of the 12 that I intend to stay here, and I am only now finishing some of this process for myself, and I still have follow ups to do with my husband. By the way, my permesso di soggiorno was actually expedited so 5 months should actually be considered faster than normal.

Officialization 9: Residenzia

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Neptune in Bologna.

Officialization TOC

  1. Officialization 1: WTF comes next in Italy?
  2. Officialization 2: Apartment
  3. Officialization 3: Internet
  4. Officialization 4: Stay Permit, part I
  5. Officialization 5: Picking Courses
  6. Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II
  7. Officialization 7: TV Tax
  8. Officialization 8: Stay Permit, part III
  9. Officialization 9: Residenzia <— You are here
  10. Officialization 10: Health Insurance

Residenzia

I finally picked up my permesso di soggiorno (stay permit) in the middle of December, and this time it was correct. My husband also received his paper that says his permit is on the way. Along with my permit, I was given a paper that said that I had to go to anagrafe (municipal office) to register as a resident within 60 days. For this, I needed my:

  • passport
  • permesso di soggiorno (stay permit)
  • lease with official contract registration
  • marriage license

Since I am married, I was supposed to show them my official marriage certificate. Unfortunately, when we got married, the courthouse in Portland gave us only an official stamped copy of our marriage certificate. We have an official translation of this document but it’s not good enough. Apparently, the certificate has to have an apostille stamp on it, certifying its officialness. We never had one of these. Without this, once it’s my husband’s turn to register, he will only be considered as a cohabitator of some sort. In the meantime, the lady put my marriage status as unknown, so that once we get ahold of this apostille stamped document, we can make the change. Now we are waiting for that to come in the mail from the US.

In any case, after going to the office and doing all of this, I got a postcard in the mail from the polizia locale (local police office). They requested that I contact them in regards to the resident registration– they send a police office to make sure you actually live there. It took me 3 tries to talk to someone who I could more or less understand. In the end, an appointment was made at my apartment at 8:30am. They showed up at 8:00am, took a look at our passports and stay permits, wrote down some information from my lease, and left. They were both actually really nice, though we didn’t talk much, since we had trouble understanding each other.

So yea, apparently when you register, a police officer has to come to make sure you aren’t taking advantage of the system.

Officialization 8: Stay Permit, part III

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Officialization TOC

  1. Officialization 1: WTF comes next in Italy?
  2. Officialization 2: Apartment
  3. Officialization 3: Internet
  4. Officialization 4: Stay Permit, part I
  5. Officialization 5: Picking Courses
  6. Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II
  7. Officialization 7: TV Tax
  8. Officialization 8: Stay Permit, part III <– You are here

Stay Permit, part III

The entire stay permit process has been an emotional rollercoaster. I left off last time with waiting for my permit to be processed, and wondering what to do with my husband’s permit.

As a US citizen, my husband is allowed to stay in the Shengen Zone up to 90 days in each 180 day period. He arrived at the end of August, and it is now November, so he has around just 22 days left.

Last week, we went to Cinformi, an office that helps immigrants submit their paperwork, and found out that we had a few outstanding documents to collect for the spousal visa. Namely, we needed a copy of our landlord’s I.D. and we needed proof that our apartment was larger than the minimum for two people of 45 meters squared (ours is 48 meters squared, which is just huge, by the way). Cinformi told us that the paper attached to our lease which includes the apartment size information, wasn’t enough as proof of this, so we had to go to Anagrafe (municipal office) to get an official stamped form.

In any case, since it seemed like my permit wasn’t going to arrive anytime soon, my husband went ahead and got plane tickets back to the US. The idea was to save as many Shengen Zone days as possible so that once I finally got my permit, he could come back and still have time to initiate the process for himself.

However, on Friday, I checked the status of my permit, and lo and behold, it was ready!

They had actually expedited it. Excited, my husband and I decided to start moving on the outstanding documents so we could try to submit his application before he flew out. This would give him a solid date on when to come back, and make everything go just a little faster so he wouldn’t have to leave the Shengen Zone again to save days between appointments. So we went to Anagrafe about the apartment size form, but they sent us to yet another office one kilometer away. The lease is in my name, and I didn’t have time to go that far that day, so we’d have to get it later. I still needed to get in contact with our landlord for a copy of his I.D. anyway.

The next task on the list was for me to actually pick up my stay permit. I went to Questura and luckily only had to wait a few minutes to get in this time. The lady there had me sign a document stating I would follow all the Italian laws and start learning Italian as she opened the envelope containing my documents. I can’t describe the feeling I had as the lady pulled out my stay permit– a pink card with a lovely holographic sigil stamped into the plastic and my ugly mug on the left hand side. I suppose it was a feeling of excitement and relief that the rest of the process would be straightforward (if not easy). I wanted nothing more than to gently slip that card into its new home in my wallet, and to never part with it again… precious… my precious. She passed the shiny new card into my open hands, and it felt so right.

Unfortunately, it was wrong.

The permit said it was valid until the end of August 2018, but I don’t expect to graduate until October 2018! In any case, I paid for health insurance through December, so it’s supposed to be valid even through then. Chagrined, I did my best to express this in my terrible Italian. After a few minutes, she seemed to understand the problem. She told me it was their mistake and to come back in 20 days.

20 days! That meant my husband would have to be in the US that long. I was disheartened, but at least we already had those plane tickets. We had also already decided to go back to Cinformi that afternoon for some clarifications. Now I could ask them about this too.

The Cinformi in Rovereto is a bit of a clusterfuck. They don’t have numbers for the queue or space to make a line, so you just come there and try to remember the faces of everyone who’s already there before you. Last time, we were sent to someone who spoke English/French after it became clear that our Italian was awful. This time, when our turn came up, we had no such luck. So there we were, sitting in front of a nice lady trying her best to speak slowly, and me struggling to form grammatical sentences to explain our whole situation. However, a moment later, it just so happened, that the same lady I had spoken to at Questura, was walking by, and she recognized me.

Quickly, she spoke to the lady at the desk and explained the situation with my stay permit. But then, she turned to me, and said that actually, she thinks my stay permit running out in August was correct after all, because that’s all that Erasmus students need. Only I am not an Erasmus student. I am Erasmus Mundus, which means I have a different study plan, and I should stay through the whole year, rather than just one semester. However, even people who know about Erasmus, don’t always know about Erasmus Mundus, and I have no idea how to explain all of this in Italian. I tried my best, but in the end, I asked her to talk to the person at the Welcome Office at the university. They got in contact the next morning, and although I still have to wait 20 days, it should be corrected now.

In the meanwhile, we were still sitting in front of the Cinformi counter, asking what to do about my husband’s permit, while mine is in the works. We were still missing some documents, and now it looked like it would take forever to get his started.  So I asked the lady at the counter what we should do next. She said we would submit everything now. I wasn’t sure I heard or understood her right. I asked again. I asked two more times. She replied: Don’t I want my husband to stay with me? –Of course I do. –Then don’t worry.

She filled out the form for us, collected all our documents into an envelope, and told us to go to the tabacchino to buy a “marca da bollo” for 16 euro (some sort of tax stamp) and to go to the post with a little over 100 euros to mail off all the documents. We did as we were instructed. My husband’s appointment at the Questura is November 22nd, so he is changing his plane tickets to come home much sooner than we ever could have hoped.

 

Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II

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Part of the hiking (climbing) path to Cima Rocca.

Officialization TOC

  1. Officialization 1: WTF comes next in Italy?
  2. Officialization 2: Apartment
  3. Officialization 3: Internet
  4. Officialization 4: Stay Permit, part I
  5. Officialization 5: Picking Courses
  6. Officialization 6: Stay Permit, part II <— You are here
  7. Officialization 7: TV Tax

Stay Permit, part II

In Stay Permit, part I, I went to the post and paid a ton of money to send a bunch of documents to the immigration office. I received a receipt, on which was written the time of my appointment at the Questura (Immigration Office). In Rovereto, this office is located inside the police station. I arrived a little early for my appointment, which was meant to be at 9:34. Of course, just 1.5 hours into the morning, the whole system had already slowed down, and I wasn’t actually called in until around 10 minutes later.

Once again, the university had sent someone to help us talk to the office. I am so grateful for this, because my Italian is incredibly rudimentary, and the situation was stressful the way bureaucracy always is.

I had brought all of my documents, plus copies of them, i.e. the receipts from the post office, including the receipt for payment of the health insurance, my passport, my German stay permit, proof of funding, my lease, photos, and even some cash, just in case. In the end, they only asked for the postal receipts, my passport, my German stay permit, and the photos. They took my fingerprints, and I had to sign a paper with all my information. I looked over this paper very carefully and found a mistake in one of the dates, which they immediately corrected. It was very important to look over this information before signing it for this reason! After that, they gave me the same postal receipt back, this time with a very important “codice pratica” number handwritten on it which identifies my application.

Unfortunately, my German stay permit runs out in a couple weeks, which means that after it runs out, I am not allowed to travel outside of Italy and the US (my home country), until I receive the stay permit, and whenever I travel, I need to bring those postal receipts with me, in order to be able to legally re-enter Italy. I wish I had asked Germany to give me a stay permit for a little longer (apparently, some people were successful with this), but I didn’t know it was possible at the time.

The processing time on the stay permit is supposed to take 3-4 months, but there might be a possibility of expediting it, so we’ll see what happens. In terms of picking the thing up, since I didn’t have an Italian phone number to give them, I am going to have to check the status of my application on the Questura website (using that same code that was written on my receipt).

It sucks that I’m going to be unable to travel throughout Europe until I get the stay permit. Plus, I’m not 100% sure the legality of staying here without it, even with the receipts. I mean, the office lady said it was ok, but who knows how a different official may feel about it. The worst part of all of this is that after I receive it, we are going to have to go through the whole process with my husband, this time, without any translation help from the university (they don’t help at all with spouses). At that point, my husband will be the one confined to traveling around Italy/US. Long story short, it sounds like we won’t be able to travel together until something like April (but maybe my stay permit will get expedited and it won’t take as long as that).