Monday, February 23, 2004

Steve and the Permesso: A Cautionary Tale (by Doreen)

SIENA (#28)

It seems that permission to stay (permesso di soggiorno) was more difficult to obtain than we thought initially. Steve visited the Italian consulate in downtown Boston three times starting in October, to get the appropriate documentation for our trip. He was told we could get permission to stay for 3 months, but not 5, but that it was a formality, no additional documentation was needed and that it would be easy with an American passport. Well, it turned out that it was not that easy....

Read this if you are even thinking of trying something as crazy as this!

On our 6th day here, we had a 9:30 (nove e mezzo) appointment with the Preside at Sarah’s school. That went fine, but then the red tape showed up. We needed a copy of her immunizations (translated and) ok'ed by the Public Health department. (I had packed a copy of both kids’ medical records but somehow were not found upon my search, despite my best laid plans….) So, since we needed the documentation (immunizations, permesso to stay in Siena) she was unable to start.

On Wednesday, Steve was off on the permesso agenda. He received a list of hoops to jump. He then got the 5 needed pictures taken, paid fees at the post office for 1. the permesso, 2. for registering for school (about $25), then went back to the Questura and, this time, got to talk with someone who said he needed someone to vouch for us and sign a paper.

At that time the permesso situation was not pretty. Steve was basically told that he might need to go back to the US to get the right papers filled out. At least it looked like Sarah would be able to start school on Monday. Sarah, Steve and I went and met Carla , then Laura at the mercato. Laura wrote out the letter for the permesso. (We didn’t shop long as it was raining.)

On Thursday, the Questura, where one goes to get permesso, was closed. Friday was spent trying to get the needed proof of insurance from the states, but Steve ran into trouble with the time difference: everything was closed in the states while the Questura was open and, then, when the States opened, the Questura was long closed.

The weekend was out.

On Monday, Steve played the bluff with the high school. He now had a form to show he was “in process” but didn’t have the actual permesso. Monday was also President’s Day, so neither the US consulate nor Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan, could answer a question about insurance.

On Tuesday, Sarah went off for day 2 of school, hurray, hurrah. We only got a call about 5 hours later that we were “highly outside the rule” –“highly irregular” (fuori regula) with our permesso for Sarah’s attendance. So, Steve’s fight with the authories carries on. Today, he spoke (at 7:15pm) to a Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare representative about our insurance. As the Questura wants him to purchase health insurance for each of us. “But we have insurance that is in effect…” There are a few more hoops to jump. He’s getting a workout.

On Wednesday, Day 14, Steve succeeded today in getting the permesso. Hallelujah. So, we can stay legally for the next 2 1/2 months. And our curent health insurance is OK for now. After that he has to get it renewed. He also got a few office workers in trouble when he fingered who told him what. Alex doesn’t have papers…because he is under 14, though won’t be the whole time we’re here…oy.

COMMENTS from the original blog

2004-03-02 10:50:53 stefano
Lessons Learned
The next time we do this (right) I know what to do.  Although nobody could tell me why we needed an Italian bank account, here is why:  based on a letter from an Italian banker, I could get an elective residence visa from the consulate.  With an elective residence visa, you can get your insurance approved by the consulate before you leave.  With insurance approval and an elective residence visa, you can get a permesso di soggiorno from the local police.  When you have the permesso (and vaccination forms) the kids can attend school.

OH!  "And the green grass grew around, around...," Nonno Allie would say.

Or perhaps, "Therefore is a conjunction."

All this started when we went to get the kids into school.  See how it works?  That is recursive problem solving.

2004-05-05 11:56:29 Barbara
Re: Steve and the Permesso:  A Cautionary Tale (by Doreen)

What a story about red tape. When we travelled abroad to England for longer than three months, we always had to submit to the Immigration officers a letter from my husband's institution saying he was receiving a salary during his year-long sabbatical.  This was done to assure the British govt. that we wouldn't end up on their social welfare rolls.  I imagine they were really concerned in 1979 when we arrived there with five children.

Also, our youngest daughter had a similar experience with French bureaucracy when she had landed a job teaching English (they wanted someone with an American accent--hence the job didn't go to a member of the EU) at a school in Nantes.  She had majored in French in college and had spent a semester abroad in Nantes, so she was eager to return.  After two months of working with the French embassy in Washington, DC, she still didn't have her permit and school was about to begin.   She had her plane ticket and was at the airport ready to leave when she phoned the teacher in Nantes she would be staying with.  When the teacher found out she didn't have her work permit yet (and hence couldn't be paid--they would be happy to have her as a volunteer!), the teacher got in touch immediately with the principal who told her not to come till she had the permit in her hands.  Our daughter thought she could take care of this in France--not so!  The next two months were a circus of meetings at the Embassy and negotiations with the Air France to reschedule her reservations two weeks at a time, with the reschedulings costing in the end more than her original ticket.  Her luggage had gone on to Paris and it was a week before she retrieved it.  She was too embarrassed to contact her friends who had all given her farewell parties, so she holed up in the apartment of a parent of a former boyfriend till her work permit came through.  I had a student from Paris in one of my classes at the time and he said she was lucky the mess took only four months to straighten out.  Anyway, she had a wonderful year living in Nantes and the trouble was well worth it to live there, and you will find the permesso troubles are worth it to have the Siena experience.

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