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!