We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dual Italian Citizenship - Part III

While I was waiting for this elusive Divorce certificate to be completed, I was also adding my oldest daughter's marriage certificate to the pile of documents we needed. This one was simple, or so I thought. My daughter Shannon had sent me a certified copy of her marriage certificate, all I needed to do was send it off for the Apostille. I got that sent off properly, only to get a reply back explaining that in order to get the Apostille, we needed the "correct" certified copy of her marriage certificate. The one we sent only had one seal, we needed a triple seal. Who knew???? To solve this I would need to request a brand new original certified document from .. who else.. Virginia Vital records, then have the Apostille added to it. I can do this. We still have time before we have to get to the Philadelphia Italian Consulate.

The next thing I get in the mail from the Virginia Vital records department is a letter informing me that the copy of my drivers license which I had sent with the Divorce certificate request was "too dark", and I'd need to resend the whole request, including a lighter copy of the drivers license. By now time is ticking away, as we have arranged to be at the Italian consulate in 3 weeks. I should mention that now timing of getting all 3 of us together ( myself, and 2 daughters) has gotten a bit more complicated. Megan, the youngest daughter, has moved to Wisconsin.

A phone call to the Virginia Vital records leaves me a bit encouraged- they tell me I can order the document online and have it expedited. Wonderful. I did this, even though it cost alot more.. 58 dollars versus 24. At this point I hardly care. I just want the Divorce Certificate and Apostille in my hot little hand. Using this expedited service, they are in communication with me via email letting me know the status of my request. I see in my email that they have sent the documents to me by UPS,they should arrive in 2 days. Everything is falling into place, and I still have time to get these divorce documents translated into Italian before the day we have to be in Philadelphia. Sounds almost too good to be true.

If only anything were that simple. The UPS package comes, however our local driver has decided he won't leave any thing without a signature, due to some problems in our neighborhood. Since we work all day, no one is home to sign. UPS tells me that I can go to the local office after 8:30 pm that night to retrieve my package. I'd never been to the UPS station- it's on Zero Road. Oh, maybe that was a warning???? The whole UPS experience has to be a blog entry of its own.. it's definitely blog worthy. Bottom line: I have the package in my hand. This is the big moment! It's the elusive Divorce certificate from Virginia. I rip open the package only to find a letter from the Virginia Vital records telling me there is no divorce certificate on file. I'm standing in the parking lot at UPS wishing there were some way to express my anger directly to the Virginia Vital records department at that very moment. That will just have to wait until morning!!!

Dual Italian Citizenship- Part II

Finding out I met the requirements for dual Italian citizenship was so exciting! I can't even describe how elated I was. This also meant that living and doing business in Venice would be much easier for us. Now all I had to do was complete the documentation process,and get the citizenship processed.

I read as much as I could on the topic, and proceeded to go about collecting the appropriate documents I would need. I had to request certified copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, death certificates, and once those were returned to me from the Vital records dept of the appropriate states each document was issued from, I also had to request the Apostille, a special seal from the Secretary of the State of the issuing document.

It took about 6 months to collect the bunch, but the most problematic of the documents were the ones for my mother. She had the originals, but was not comfortable letting them out of her hands. Brick wall #1 - convincing Mom that I would not lose her documents. She was also convinced that the Italian Consulate would take her documents and not return them. I got her to agree to let me have the documents for 1 week only. During that time I took them to the Italian consulate office in Baltimore where they authenticated them. That means they reviewed my mother's originals, made a copy, then stamped and signed that the original was seen by them .

With all the documents in hand, I gathered up my two girls ( who also qualify for dual citizenship by blood though me), since everyone applying must appear in person together. It's a much easier process to get every one's documents processed as a group.. and cheaper. We drove early in the morning to the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia to deliver the packet of papers. I couldn't have been more excited.. this was a big deal, and I'd worked religiously for several months to collect all the appropriate paperwork. Once in the Consulate, we were told that there was one more divorce certificate I needed, and until I had this one document, I would have to wait to submit my citizenship request. Brick wall #2.

Dejected, I returned to Baltimore. I had no idea what document they required. I quickly discovered that the Virginia Vital Records department did not have this document for my divorce. They referred me to the Circuit Court in Fairfax County, Virginia where I got divorced 8 years earlier. It took many phone calls back and forth before it was clear that no divorce certificate was ever created for me. It turns out that a VS-4 form which is normally filed by the divorce attorney, was never filed. That makes sense.. by the time we got to the end of the divorce process we had both relinquished our lawyers and wrapped things up ourselves. No one had ever told us there was another form to file.

The clerk of the court sent me the VS-4 form, and I got it send back to them. I called every day to make sure they had it. I had them call me when they had processed it and sent it on to Virginia Vital records. Once it was sent on, I contacted Virginia Vital records to ensure that it was moving properly through the channels. Brick wall # 3. They told me they had never had a situation where the VS-4 form was received 8 yrs after the divorce, they didn't know how to handle that. I gave them several months to figure it out, then requested a certified copy of my divorce certificate. I figured everything would be simple from this point on--- I was back track collecting the documentation and made plans to return to the Italian consulate. I felt like another milestone in my move to Venice plan was in reach!