Dealing with Consulates in general

Share information about your experiences with the citizenship department of a particular Italian (or other) embassy or consulate.

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Dealing with Consulates in general

Postby Muddoni » Sun May 14, 2006 8:15 pm

Not to defend italian consuates (their main problem is being ridiculously understaffed I'd say) but I think we often have the wrong perspective, and I see many posts that I believe miss a major point.

We treat consulates as if they were US gvmt offices, but when you apply for citizenship you are just a foreigner dealing with a foreign government, until citizenship is granted.


I did some research with lawyers and there is no real complaint that you can file if you're requesting citizenship and the wait is very very long: until the citizenship is granted we are foreigners for the Italian Government, and we have no rights to enforce. Technically, to grant citizenship is a 'gift' from a sovereign entity (in this case the Italian gvmt) so they could actually change legislation any day and cancel all new applications - it is a sovereign right of any government and there's no formal complaint that we could file except the 'unsatisfied customer' stuff.


**** but that's what I learned..
So I guess we gotta bear with them hoping they don't change the legislation...
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Postby Em » Sun May 14, 2006 8:51 pm

You make a very good point, and given the large number of people applying, I would say they have been very patient. Italy has a liberal citizenship policy, so I agree, we shouldn't complain--just be grateful.
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Postby Anonymous » Mon May 15, 2006 2:08 am

I don`t know what lawyers you spoke with, but they need to go back to law school, as they sound like idiots. The Italian Government passed a law in 1992. That law CANNOT be changed in ONE DAY, nor is it likely that it ever will be changed given one of the fundamental reasons for enacting the law, which is to preserve the Italian bloodline. Italian authorities, together with the Catholic Church, agreed that many Italians have "reduced" the number of children in their marriages, and the fact that many Italians have left the country for job opportunities and other reasons. In place of this seemingly loss, Italy has become a "beacon of light" and land of opportunity for immigrants of many nationalities, including Africans, Asians, and Latin America, not to mention the growing Muslim population. The "fear" was that the Italian identity, bloodline, culture, heritage, and traditions, was diminishing. To combat this, they enacted the law of jure sanguinis, right of blood. Italy`s hope is to try and maintain or replenish the Italian identity.
This was the first and foremost reason for establishing the "law". After further considerations, they decided to make amendments to this law and expand entitlements to 'decendants' of Italian citizens. Many of us are 1st generation Italian, while others are 2nd or 3rd. Thankfully, Italy did not limit the number of generations, as that would have defeated their original purpose of 'bringing' Italians "home".
As for the RIGHT to complain about Consulate proceedures, every Italian has that right. Those of us, who "qualify" for Jure Sanguinis, are NOT FOREIGNERS. We are Italian citizens BY BIRTH, as is recognized by Italy. Although we do have the right to complain, I would suggest to everyone to be patient, considering the heavy burden that has been placed on Consulate officials, and the huge increase in applications just since 2004.

For those who wish to file a complaint, they can write to the Italian Embassy in Washington DC, or to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Italy. But, it won`t do any good, unless you can PROVE negligence or discrimination.

For me, I will just wait, and follow up occasionally.
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Postby Em » Mon May 15, 2006 6:09 am

I'm glad there's no danger of the law changing any time soon; it's been a pain gathering all these documents. :(

Like you, Angiolo, and Muddoni I'm prepared to be patient regardless. I cannot believe how many people are considering and/or actively pursuing dual citizenship, and I know that in NY, at least, one man is handling all requests. It's a daunting task.

I understand, too, the immigrant problem with which Italy is confronted today. One need only walk the streets of any major city to recognize it. Italy is also faced with a less urgent problem of immigration from EU nations. Italy has always been the destination of northern Europeans attracted to its climate and lifestyle. With the establishment of the EU, this movement south has increased at a more rapid pace.

I get the sense from my Italian friends that this immigration is not a great concern, but I must admit to being a bit disconcerted when, during our last visit to the Amalfi Coast, I got the distinct impression that the second language of Italy is German. Because of the ease of movement from one country to another within the EU, many of my friends are concerned that EU membership may be extended to non-western European nations, whose cultures are considerably different from their own.

Given these concerns, it's no wonder Italians are eager to repatriate or reestablish ties with those who share Italian culture, heritage and traditions. I bet, however, they never anticipated such an overwhelming response.
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Postby Anonymous » Mon May 15, 2006 10:09 am

EM. The EU is expanding, to include the eastern European countries. Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, are just a few. The Slavic countries are also becoming part of the EU. Even the Eastern countries bordering with Russia.

There is a noticable number of Americans seeking dual citizenship with Italy. The number (according to the former Consular in Chicago), is probably close to 700,000 (2004 count). However, that is only Italy. What about the UK consulate?, Irish consulate? German? what are those numbers?

The number of people seeking dual citizenship has indeed risen to enormous amounts, and I don`t think it is for spending 6 months out of the year or an extended vacation. I believe these numbers represent a permanent move away from the US.

Funny thing though, the US government is not saying anything public about this seemingly mass exodus out of the country. At least not that I heard. Although maybe they are doing it in other ways, like telling us how many jobs there are, how they are preventing terror attacks, and other things, to get people to stay. All I know is, something is making them leave
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Postby Muddoni » Mon May 15, 2006 11:55 am

Angiolo: I don't know from where you derive your certainty about the unchangeable nature of the Italian citizenship law. Are you a member of parliament?
:)
On Italian media these days there's great talk, for instance, of adding the requisite of speaking Italian for those applying for citizenship (see www.corriere.it). And the need of 'preserving the Italian bloodline' is something very far from the concern of current Italian political forces. They are much more worried about excessive public spending: and every new citizen has a cost for the homeland...

Every law can be changed any time, that's unfortunately very true. Let's hope they keep this one as generous as it is, but who knows.

And yes, of course you can complain about mistreatment with the Ministry in Rome or the Embassy in Washington (anyone can write a letter.. but as you guys said it does not help AT ALL in your future contacts with them.. :cry: ): but the fact that you QUALIFY for citizenship does not make you a citizen.
So we should keep in mind that we're dealing with a foreign gvmt until the citizenship certificate is in our hands...
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Postby Anonymous » Mon May 15, 2006 2:35 pm

EM, I forgot to add that there is NO danger of Italy changing their existing law of Jure Sanguinis. Italy is very happy to have Italians return to their homeland. You do not have to worry. Even though you may lack in the language, there are so many language courses available throughout Italy. One language course is supposedly FREE, and sponsored by the Government, but I will have to investigate that more, before posting the information. Someone mentioned it on another forum, and I will try and find it.

By the way, I don`t know if you know this or not, but there are many Ristoranti in Italy that charge you to sit down, but mostly in the Naples area from what I have seen. I ate in a couple of places in Rome, who did not charge, and another place in the Campania region, that also did not charge. On the bill, it is listed as 'un sedia".
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Postby Em » Mon May 15, 2006 2:40 pm

Muddoni, I think the expansion of the EU is a great fear of many Italians; and quite frankly, I don't think they are too thrilled with Italian-Americans, -Argentinians, - Canadians acquiring citizenship either.

In my discussions with relatives and friends in Italy, I get the strong sense that we are perceived as Americans whose families happen to have come from Italy. Italian-Americans feel Italian; many Italians don't see us the same way. So, I doubt too many Italians would be heartbroken if the law was changed to somewhat restrict citizenship. I don't see anything wrong with requiring that potential citizens speak the language. I wish we had a similar requirement here.

I do disagree, however, that the large number of applicants reflects a desire to reside in Italy although some may certainly choose to do so. I can only speak for myself and those I know in a similar position. (And since I've begun the application process, I've met many people who hold dual citizenship and do not reside and have no intention to reside permanently in Italy.)

I am proud of my heritage and I'd like to establish a connection to my country of origin before the law changes. In addition, my husband was born and raised in Italy, and he would be proud to reacquire his citizenship. I would like to visit Europe with fewer restrictions, and give my children and grandchildren the option of working and studying in the EU if they wish to do so in the future. The world is shrinking, and Italian citizenship opens up many cultural and economic doors.

I think we're seeing these large numbers of applicants for several reasons. 1. The increasingly global economy makes it advantageous to hold dual citizenship. 2. A large baby boomer population has the financial resources to travel and to spend retirement years in non-traditional places. (I'll personally pass on Florida.) 3. It's now legal to hold two citizenships. 4. The information provided on internet sites such as this make it easy to get information and obtain the necessary documentation to do so.

I don't think you'll be seeing any mass exodus. They'll be many people holding dual passports, many people travelling more, many people buying second homes overseas, many people working in the EU or for EU companies; but my guess is that most dual citizens will happily remain in their home country.
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Postby Em » Mon May 15, 2006 3:09 pm

Angiolo, I'm surely glad to hear that. I know laws are "not written in stone," but given the bureaucracy and slow pace in Italy, any potential changes are not likely to come soon.

I'll keep practicing my Italian (just in case), and maybe I'll carry one of those portable chairs around with me. :D Leave it to the Neapolitans!!!
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Postby Muddoni » Mon May 15, 2006 3:54 pm

You got me wrong: additional costs per citizen don't necessarily arise when new Italians move to Italy. Gvm has to provide some costly things (emergency health care when traveling to Italy, consular services, electoral rights, etc.) even if we live abroad. That's why some MPs are skeptical about the generosity of the current legislation and are proposing a turn of the screw.

So I do recommend to practice your Italian, and possibly to become fluent if you don't want to have a bad surprise...
I will say no more.

And anyhow it's such a beautiful language!
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Postby Anonymous » Mon May 15, 2006 4:20 pm

EM, there is not one article written by any Government official who wants to overturn the existing law Jure Sanguinis. As for the language, you are NOT under ANY obligation to learn the language now, or at any time. You may take your sweet time and learn it over time, or go to a language school, or you may even choose to never learn the language. However, you will not be under any obligation to learn the language as a condition of your right to Italian citizenship. That is not to say that the Italian Government would not sponsor a language course and offer it free to new applicants. However, this is of no concern, as the government will not stop your citizenship process because of a language barrier, nor will they force you to know the language before your citizenship is granted. If you have any doubts or concerns, than perhaps you may want to call the Consulate. I did already
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Postby Em » Mon May 15, 2006 6:00 pm

I'm studying Italian because I love the language and I am proud to be able to speak it particularly when I visit Italy. But, I've got to say, I'm not too worried. I can communicate in Italian, so if they insist, I'm ok, but my poor son would have a real problem. :lol:

And this is just an opinion--no facts to back it up. . .

1. I doubt the laws will change any time soon. Everything works in slow motion in Italy (and not too efficiently either). They'll probably be a lot of talk before, or if, there is any action.

2. If the law does change, it will likely become more restrictive. But remember in 1992 when the law changed, they gave people five years to take advantage of it (too bad my husband wasn't aware of it). BTW, I'm speaking of naturalized citizens. I think it's likely that any change in the law will have an extensive "lag" period.

3. And if I'm wrong in both cases--highly unlikely since I'm never wrong :wink: --I'm still not worried. I've lived quite comfortably without Italian citizenship, and I can continue to do so without a problem.

Having dual citizenship would be nice, and as I mentioned in an earlier posting, there are several reasons to pursue it. But when my grandparents came to the U.S., they did so to begin a new life and to ensure a better life for their children. Mission accomplished!!!

I will always be grateful for the opportunities their sacrifices provided for me and for my children; and although I know the U.S. is not perfect, this is the country that made it possible. I'm proud of my Italian heritage, but I'm even more proud to be American.
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Postby ejd » Wed May 17, 2006 6:50 pm

Hi. I thought I'd chime in on this conversation...

I'm one of the people who wants to acquire dual citizenship, but doesn't plan to move there, at least not in the near future. I have too many family obligations and a very good job here in the US.

I want to acquire dual citizenship for flexibility-- like if I make a career change and having dual citizenship provides an advantage, or if I want to retire over there or just live over there for a year just for the heck of it, and to give my son options for when he grows up. I just like to keep options open.

When I met with the vice consulate serving my geographic area this past January, he said that he mentioned that that the Consulate likes to see people acquire citizenship jure sanguinis as does he. So, there is support for it in the Italian gov't (which I guess is stating the obvious since they passed the law in 1992).

As I understand it, Italy's birth rate is the lowest in western Europe, so in addition to what has already been stated in this thread, this is also good reason to want to encourage an increase in Italian citizens through bloodline.

Much of western Europe has low birthrates which is going to be a problem for them economically in the long run. The EU has to encourage immigration or dual citizenship for economic reasons alone. The EU is considering Turkey for membership. If/when that happens, Turkey will be the most populous country in Europe by far and there will be a wave of movement of Turkish immigrants to the rest of the EU.

Interesting that my Italian tutor here, who is from Rome and is here to study music, was totally unfamiliar with Italy's dual citizenship law (he has only been here for two years).
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Postby ejd » Wed May 17, 2006 6:56 pm

By the way, I wanted to add, that I went to the Embassy sites of several EU countries. So far as I could find, it seems that only Ireland, Italy, and Greece have citizenship jure sanguinis laws that can go farther back than just parents. Most others it seems if you want to be a citizen you have to go through the immigration process. I only checked France, Britain, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Holland, Poland, and Switzerland, though (although Switzerland is not in the EU).
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Postby Maria » Thu May 18, 2006 10:14 am

Ejd:
Spain also has jure sanguinis laws but not as generous as Italy and it only goes as far back as having a Spanish born grandparent.
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