Immigrants to the USA get what is called a Green Card, if they are lucky. Those green cards have been very hard to get and are now close to impossible because a white nationalist is president. The green card gives the immigrant the right to stay and work in the United States and it is a path to citizenship after 5 years without problems. Italy’s version of that is the Permesso di Soggiorno, or Permission to Stay. They are issued by the State Police to people who are legally present in Italy. They are issued in one year, two year or five year versions. I don’t need one because I am an Italian citizen but Alice does need it because she is not. She has the absolute right to be in Italy and the EU because she is married to an Italian. Contrast this to the USA where being married to an American is not sufficient to let you stay legally in the USA.
Alice got her first Permesso di Soggiorno (PS) in Palermo. It was granted for a duration of two years and it expired last March when we were in France. We need her to have the PS because residency in our new town is contingent on her having the PS. The residency is the mechanism that is used to provide healthcare in the Italian system. As it stands we do have coverage for emergencies and hospitalization but not for doctor visits and pharmaceuticals. There are certain requirements that need to be met to get the residency. We went to Montespertoli last week to get information on the process and the sweet lady told us that nothing could be done until Alice could show that the PS process was started. Normally this is done by obtaining a kit at the post office. The kit is a group of similar applications for the PS, for the various categories. Just the appropriate one is completed and returned to the post office with a 16 euro tax stamp. The teller reviews the documents, checks the accuracy of the requested document copies by comparing them with the originals. She then places everything in the envelope, seals it and collects the appropriate fee. She then issues a receipt for the package. That document is used to prove that the process has started. That receipt is what the Town needs to start the residency process.
Unfortunately when we went to the post office with the completed package the teller noticed that the PS was expired longer than 6 months. She could no longer accept the application which had to be submitted directly to the Questure in Florence. Questura is the police facility for immigrants. The Questura is one of those places that always has people waiting for something. For hours. Many hours. So we went yesterday not really expecting to get anything done but to try to get information. When we arrived there was a line. Getting around the line I went directly to one of the police officers charged with maintaining order with a bunch of tired and pissed off people. She told me that we had two choices. First I could go on-line and make an appointment (a new process) or we could return between 7:30 and 9:00 AM and stand on line.
We we got home and I went on-line to make an appointment. The earliest appointment was in three months. So I didn’t make the appointment because I did not want to delay the residency process that long. So we woke early this morning and left the house at 7:30 so we could get there before 9AM. When we arrived there was a line outside on the street. I asked the officer in charge and he said that we need to get on that line. We did. The line moved relatively quickly taking only about a 1/2 hour to get in to the second line. That line moved really slowly and it took three hours to advance to the next stage. That stage is to go to a window and get a number and wait to be called. That could have taken a few more hours based on my watching people milling around in the waiting area. Fortunately when I told the number issuer why we were there, he said that I must make an appointment on-line as mentioned above. When I said that I don’t want to wait 3 months to get the receipt that I could show the Town he said that when the appointment is made I could print the receipt directly and present it to the Town.
Now what the Questura has done is to streamline the process to make it easier and more convenient for the public. A very commendable change of process that eliminates unnecessary driving, expense and waiting. But in the Italian way they didn’t make this information available to those who need to know. And because they don’t make that information known it resulted in two trips to Florence, two parking charges and close to 4 hours of standing on line. Ringo was so pissed that he bit people’s feet that got too close to him on the line.