Success Down Under in Australia

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Success Down Under in Australia

Postby italy_au » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:17 am

The day has come, and I finally have in my hands my Italian passport. I received my passport in October 2009 and unfortunately, I have been a bit slack typing this. I am typing this with complete and utter relief that the dramas of dealing with Italian bureaucracy are over. I will detail my entire story here. Beware it is quite long, and I thought I would spend the time to type my experience up and share it with everyone here because if it can help just one person get their Italian citizenship then I have succeeded.

So it all started in July 2007, I had received my first adult Australian passport and decided to find a site that allows you to look at other countries passports. (I am a very curious person....sometimes to my detriment). I stumbled on Wikipedia, the mecca of all sorts of information, and decided to peak at the Italian passport as I was curious what it looked like because my surname is Italian and i knew that my family originated in Italy. I then stumbled on the ‘Italian Nationality Law’ page on Wikipedia, and was intrigued with the possibility that I could claim citizenship through my great-grandfather (the term ‘jus sanguinis’ was foreign to me then). I then spoke to my father and my great-grandfather about obtaining records and information (without telling them my purpose, as they are the type who would not help me because they deem it unnecessary).

In August 2007, I went into the Italian Consulate in Sydney, Australia, and enquired as to whether I was eligible and so on. After being told that I was eligible pending whether my great-grandfather naturalized or not, I started gathering documents. I found a great resource to correlate birth-date time of emigration etc, so I highly recommend it as a starting point. After finding out that there is no record of my GGF naturalizing I found I needed that dastardly USCIS letter. Being the motivated person I am, I tried to devise ways of getting this USCIS letter without going through the 9 month wait, so I contacted the US Consulate-General in Sydney and was kindly told to go through the same process as you mortals stateside. After about 7 months I received my letter in March 2008.

This was perfect timing as the US-originating documents had just arrived apostilled and all. Although there was a drama with the first lot of PA Vital Records documents getting lost in the mail, despite me specifically telling them to send it to me via FedEx (at my expense of course). I then managed to speak to the Supervisor and she said she would re do the documents for me free of charge, have them apostilled and FedEx them to me here in Australia. After that ordeal the documents were combined with the Australian documents and I entered the Italian Consulate and handed it over to them, and they said it looks 99% certain that I can get citizenship, I just have to wait for Philadelphia to verify the documents. I told them to fax/email the documents as last time Philadelphia had to verify tangible documents, it took no joke 4 months for a response as the document had to go from Sydney to the Italian Embassy in Canberra, to Rome, to Washington DC then to Philly.... and back again. I was astounded and said fax or email it next time, or I will pay for FedEx.

After freaking out and not hearing from them in about 3 months, I was starting to get impatient. I emailed the consulate and asked if they had heard from Philly, they got up me for being too impatient. Please note that most of the time, the communication between me and the consulate was really informal... I didn’t mind this, as I liked the guy who was assisting me. However, sometimes I would spend like 30mins typing up a two page email (as you can see I like to ramble) and would only get an ambiguous and vague 12 word sentence in reply which sort of frustrated me. I then felt this was ridiculous and took things in my own hands and rung the Philly consulate. As you may know, the phone in Philly never rings through and always goes to voice mail. After emailing them and calling and leaving messages, I never heard from them. I heard only once from them, and they didn’t answer my question and just referred me to the PDF file on their website which discusses citizenship requirements. I found it absolutely appalling that Philly never personally replied to me. It is the height of being unprofessional and for a representative of the Government of Italy, it is completely unacceptable. I could never envisage an Australian mission overseas not replying to me. After about 2 weeks of staying up till 1 am calling Philly (because the USA is about 15 hours behind Australia, and when you sleep we are awake, and vice versa) I finally got through to a polite lady who said she would review my documents and then told me to call back at the same time the next day. I did, but the phone did not answer.

About 2 days later, I got an email from the Sydney consulate stating that my application has been rejected (by the Philly consulate) and I am to come into the Consulate to discuss the issue at hand. I went in first thing the next day and was told because my GGF’s death certificate had his birth date wrongly printed, and in ‘Citizen of What Country’ it said USA, they assumed my GGF naturalized and I needed to modify the certificate.

This is when my life turned to hell. The State of Pennsylvania has archaic laws (that’s right legislation) that says either the informant or funeral director MUST modify the death certificate. In my case both are no longer with us. I told them that, and they said I must then get a court order. Being myself, I then tried all sorts of ways to overcome this burden. I rang Congressmen in Washington DC, the Governor of Pennsylvania and Secretary of the PA Dept of Health. All said no, court order only. However an assistant to the Secretary was extremely helpful and said she remembered a case that was similar to mine, where the person needed to modify certificates for the purpose of dual citizenship. She said the person argued his case ‘per se’, which means that the person argues the case themselves and does not use an attorney. I thought yippee because I cannot afford a lawyer and have all the necessary documentation rarara. I then called up the court and spoke to a guy who told me the process of arguing ‘per se’ and it was completely different to how such a process is completed in Australia, and he said if I didn’t know the process than it would be best to employ a lawyer. He also said that I might need to be present in front of the judge because if there is no lawyer and I’m not there (because I live in Australia) then it might not be possible. I then called the bar association for some lawyer and was quoted around $500, until I said I was from Australia, and they said there was a huge risk of fraud and the 3 places I called said they didn’t want to help me unless I could see them in person. Bah!!-WALL!

I then requested some help on ICGS and the noble and kind angel Em said the consulate is being difficult and that it should accept the certificates because I had certified letters from USCIS and a certified birth certificate from Italy. I then agreed and called the consulate in Sydney and told them my position, they rejected me again. I was like right! This is it, I have had enough! The next day I called up the Italian Embassy in Canberra (Australia’s capital) and lodged a formal complaint requesting help. The guy who helped me was 2nd in charge for the Italian mission in Australia and he was absolutely helpful. I told him the dramas I had experienced and he said he would investigate the case.

After a week he said the same thing the Consulate in Sydney said about the death certificate, saying the DOB wasn’t too much of an issue because we had the birth certificate from Italy, but I needed a letter from USCIS saying my GGF never naturalised. I was like... WTF?... I have given this to the consulate in Sydney. I then scanned the document and sent it to the guy at the Embassy. He said the consulate in Sydney had never seen this document and that it needed to be transmitted to Philadelphia right away. So there in lied the problem with this issue. The Consulate in Sydney did not review the documents properly and did not send/fax all the documents to Philly, which resulted in Philly not approving the application because they never got the USCIS letter.

The next day I waltzed into the Sydney consulate, gave them the two-page USCIS letter and told them to FAX it immediately to Philadelphia for review. After about 2 weeks, I received an email saying that my application had been denied (again) due to the ‘irregularities’ regarding my great-grandfather’s citizenship! More to and fro occurred, and by the end of it I had to speak to PA Vital Records about modifying the death certificate. I had been speaking to the lady there so often, I swear we became friends.
Although she said she could not modify the death certificate (of my GGF) without a court order, she did manage to trace the funeral directors old company and found out it had been bought by a larger funeral home conglomerate – she promptly passed me their details. Basically, I called her up and she said she could get PA Vital Records to modify the certificate. Within 2 weeks I had the new apostilled death certificate in my hands.

I walked into the Sydney consulate handed it to the lady and within 6 weeks, she gracefully called me up personally to duly inform me that the Philadelphia consulate has “confirmed” the authenticity of the death certificate and that my derivative claim to Italian Citizenship was approved! I NEARLY DIED WITH HAPPINESS!

I went into the Consulate the next week to finalize a few things and she said that I would have to wait approximately 6-8 weeks for the documents to be sent to my Italian commune to be registered.

That was 10 weeks ago – 2 weeks ago I went in to apply for my passport, codice fiscale, Certificate of Citizenship, AIRE and IT card after receiving approval and here I am with my maroon passport, in my passport holder right next to my Australian passport!

All of this drama over one piece of paper. I was angry, but so much more relieved. This is proof that you need to trust your instincts and hassle the consulate if they reject your application. Because they mishandled my documents I could have been denied Italian citizenship, and my gut said to keep going there is always a way and its true there is always a way around things. If things don’t work out, go higher, request to speak to the Consul-General. Contact the Embassy. I am, however, very fortunate to be in Australia where the Consulates and Embassy are very contactable and respond within 24 hours (often within only a few hours). I believe this is because there is a lot less people applying for Italian citizenship, so they can respond easier. Also, the fact that I am a university student, where I can check my email every 2 hours and walk into the Consulate whenever I please was a major help too. I am so grateful that that day where I was looking at Italian passports turned into reality where I hold one in my hand with my picture in it. I only wish there was some way I could honour and repay my ancestors.

Also, I believe in the Law of Attraction. I wanted this sooo bad and eventually got it! It made me think, that things that I have truthfull wanted (on a deep inside level) I have gotten. Another example is University.... I was accepted into a university where my academic grades were not good enough after high-school. I wanted to go to this particualar university so bad... and found a backdoor. Literally 2 weeks before the university semester started... I was duly accepted! Life is short and opportunities are rare and there will be a lot of times in your life when you have fear and doubt. And that is ok. But if you don't ork through the fear and doubt, you might miss out on some pretty great things! I was so doubtful of getting Italian Citizenship at times.....however look where I am now!

Anyway that is it. A big massive thank you to Em and the rest of you, but Em helped me the most. You give us hopefuls’ perspective and I am so thankful that you are on this board. Kudos to you and all the best to you and your family. Good karma will come to you and your family... I promise.

Sincerely Signed....

Dual Australian/Italian citizen.....
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:35 pm

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