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

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mike's Carta di Soggiorno

Now that I am finally a dual citizen, Mike is eligible for a Carta di Soggiorno. This Carta is for people who are allowed to stay in Italy indefinitely, such as anyone married to an Italian citizen. The card is good for 5 years and can be renewed after that. Once you have the Carta di Soggiorno you are then eligible to sign up for the National Health service. I will have to blog about that experience as well.

We knew we had to go to the Questura to apply for the Carta, but weren't sure of exactly what kind of documentation was required. To be absolutely sure we were following the correct procedure, we made an appointment at the Immigration office here in Venice.

The man at the Immigration office provided us with a list of documents we'd need to produce:

--My Carta d'Identita
--My certificate of Residence here in Venice
--Our new Italian marriage certificate
--Mike's US Passport
--Bank statements indicating we had sufficient means of support
--A declaration made by me indicating Mike was my husband and that the purpose of the request for the Carta was to keep the family together ( this declaration was a form provided by the Immigration office)
--4 photos

With the required documents in hand, we set off for the Questura in Marghera. We don't live far from Piazzale Roma, so that was an easy walk to the bus station. We knew which bus we needed ( the 6/, same one we take to go to the Panorama), but needed to have the bus driver point out the correct bus stop to get there. The driver called out the stop, and we, along with about 15 other people, got off the bus. Fortunately for us someone in the line had obviously been to the Questura before, so we were able to follow them as they made their way in and out of a few streets.

It was 8am and raining. Already there was a long line waiting at the Questura. Well, not quite a line, more like a mass of people. There's an unusual procedure to get people into the place-- you wait in this first line, until 8:30. At 8:30, they open the gate, and people begin pushing like crazy to get into the next line. I've never seen anything like it. It was as if none of these people had any concept of personal space. And we were all in a line which was only going one place. Even if we all had 6 inches to ourselves ,it wouldn't have amounted to any difference in the time it took to proceed in the line until we got to the front.

After making our way to the front of the line, it's your turn to talk to the man at the intake window. He reviews your documents, determines if you have the correct items, and hands you a number. This number determines your position in the next queue. Then you go inside the Questura and wait until your number is called. We got in the building at 9 am, and it took until almost noon for us to have our number called.

Our number was 34, in the yellow queue. There were several other queues, all different color codes. While sitting in the waiting room, a little boy about 5 years old ,who was sitting a few seats from mine, threw up. If that were my child, I would have made a mad dash for outside, or the rest room. I was horrified that his parents didn't move a muscle. And they only cleaned the mess up after someone else nearby yelled at them to do it. I felt sorry for the man sitting next to me. He obviously couldn't take that, he had to hide his eyes and turn away. Oh,the joys of waiting at the Questura!

When it was our turn, we were interviewed by a guy behind a counter. He took all our documents, and also asked for the Permission to Stay document Mike had gotten when he first arrived in Venice. That's the one you must get within your first 8 days here. Fortunately I had that in my folder also, cause I would not have wanted to make a return trip. I think we were in there with this man about 10 minutes. He stamped alot of papers, stapled Mike's photos to them, and told us to go 2 doors down to the Fingerprint office. That 10 minutes was pretty incredible, as we were seeing wait times of up to half hour for each person going into that office. Wow, this was almost too easy!

At the Fingerprint office, we waited in another line. This took forever also, but only because everyone working in that office went out for a cigarette break for about 20 minutes. Once they came back from the break, things proceeded quickly. Finally we were done. I looked at my watch as we boarded the bus back to Venice and it was almost 1:30.

If you need to go to the Questura, I highly recommend you get all your documents in order before you go, and be prepared to sit for a long time. Next time I will bring a book. And yes, there will be a next time. Mike was granted a temporary Carta. He must return in 3 months to pick up his permanent one.


Heather said...

You may want to try this when you pick your card: http://casadipacheco.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-to-wait-in-line-in-italy.html

Natalie said...

Ah, Italian red tape. Not one of the perks of living in Italy. After days like this, you deserve an extra glass of vino. :-)

Giancarlo & Emily said...

It makes all the red tape back in the U.S. seem like a piece of cake... we have to go back again tomorrow, I think a bottle of wine might be need!

Alex said...

back in '91 I managed to secure a hotel job in Jesolo for a friend and myself. We worked for two months before we had to go to the questura. We were taken by the hotel manager who waved at a guy behind the glass who came forward, called us to the front of the queue, stamped our papers and that was it. I bypassed all the necessary redtape and all because he knew someone. Worth thinking about if you ever plan on going through all that again!

marie said...

Karen.............have you been to Bassano del Grappa yet? It is an hour train ride from Venice, and well worth the time. It is a beautiful town and I am sure you would like it. I know a photographer there who is very well respected(if you should need one) I will be in Bassano this coming February and hope to come to Venice for Carnival. Your blog is very enjoyable.