To apply for Italian Citizenship, one of the required documents is a criminal record certificate – stating that you’re not running from crimes in another country. For me, that means I need an FBI Background Check to prove I haven’t been arrested or am wanted for anything. To get that document, you have to send in a full set of fingerprints on a special card you can print off the website, and there are many additional steps but it all seemed pretty straightforward.
Well, over three summers ago I began the document collection process for all of this and started looking for a place to get my fingerprints done. Though I knew the Questura did them, I knew I didn’t have a prayer asking them for a favor for the US government, and though one blog mentioned a mysterious building of Piazza Independenza, at the time I had gone through some other god-awful process and couldn’t handle the wild goose chase that I knew it would turn out to be. Instead, I decided I could do them while I was visiting home. The whole process may be quicker that way. So summer of 2017, I went down to the police station with my Mum and asked if I could get my fingerprints done. We were told to come back in a few hours when the detective would be there, and soon I was getting my fingers tarred up in a windowless room talking about the Amalfi Coast (because most of my conversations with strangers at home honestly eventually lead to their favorite Italy destinations). This very nice man, who was excited to retire (he was happy to tell us) did two sets of my fingerprints, just in case, and sent me on my way.
I sent in the prints. I flew back to Italy. I waited a few weeks (or months, honestly I can’t remember that timeline) and then it was sent back to the house with a rejection letter, saying the prints weren’t clear enough, try again. Try again. Back at square one and I’m months into this process. I try searching for someone to do the fingerprints here – I even desperately email a police officer that used to come to the student orientations – the only connection I had at that point. Nothing. The next summer, I went home again and before I researched and found a company that did digital fingerprinting and would send them correctly to the FBI for me. Hallelujah.
That was the summer of 2018. I’d successfully shown the FBI my fingers, and I flew back to Italy again. My mother got the approval letter in the mail a few weeks later.
Because the document has to be apostilled, so it has to be sent back down to Washington with a request form (and a small fee, of course) and they’ll staple another paper onto the first and sign and stamp it and send it back. My mother did that (thank you Mum) and got it back, then sent it over to me.
Once I had the documents, It was winter of 2018. I contacted a woman I knew through friends that did translations and certifications to take care of my FBI doc and my birth certificate – but this is when I realized that I also needed the birth certificate apostilled. Up until this point, I had needed my birth certificate for every other document I’d received and it had never been apostilled, but this one needed to be. So it was off to call my Mum again and ask her for another favor.
By the time that got back to me here in Florence, it was 2019. The clock was ticking. My fingerprints would only be valid for six months. It was mid-January when I finally gave them all to be translated with the earliest appointment being the 24th of January. I picked them back up on February 7th, 2019.
When I went in through the rest of the pages of the online application, everything finally checked out. Seeing that I had little knowledge of how much could be looked over, etc after submitting it, I asked my mother-in-law (thank you Laura!) to read it over and make sure I did everything correctly.
Now, all we had to do was get paid so I could pay the fee and I was ready – in February 2019. Then the day I went back in to get the info for the payment, a new page had popped up in the program. Language requirement. Salvini’s new decree had gone through, raising the price from 200 Euro to 250 (honestly I’m not that bothered by that at this point, but any Italian I interact with about that is pissed enough for me), and that I had to pass a B1 (intermediate level) Italian language test – spoken, written, and comprehension. My fingerprints wouldn’t make it.
Now after the dauntless process of finding out how to and then taking the Italian test and passing (yay!), I finally submitted everything and paid the 250 at the post office, and I prayed that there would be a more gentle person behind the desk that day they looked at my form and could see what had happened and would let my prints through.
But no, they did not.
So now, I’m partially saved, thanks to Fingerprint Innovations, who still had my record and could send in another request, but that sets me back another $300 for rushed service and having them do the apostille at the same time, and then it has to be sent to my Mum, because it can’t be sent internationally, and then she has to send it to me, and then I have to bike it over to Deidre and she has to translate and get it authorized here, and then I have to fill out an entire new application, and then maybe, I’ll get to wait a long time for them to process my citizenship.