My line is GGF>GF>Mother. I have a spreadsheet listing all the documents I presented. All of these documents were requested during the appointment. I tried to attach it, but it keeps failing. Let me know if you want it sent your way. This is a long post, but I figure the more details, the more it might help others.
Some things to consider in preparing for an appointment at the Chicago consulate:
The building housing the consulate is located on the Miracle Mile. Allow plenty of time to make your way though one of the busiest parts of a very large city. Bring your passport or other government-issued ID (or both), or you will not make it past the reception desk in the front lobby. I saw a woman being asked to leave because she wasn't carrying ID. The consulate is on the 18th floor. Consider bringing a bottle of water. You could be there for a few hours, and there are no drinking fountains on the floor of the consulate. If you need to use the restroom, you'll have to ask for a key at the consulate reception window. English is common at the consulate, but if you don't know Italian, it might be nice to open the conversation saying you don't speak Italian. Keep in mind that you are dealing with consulate officials who take their job very seriously and are quite good at what they do. It is easy to get frustrated if things don't go how you hope they do, but causing a scene won't help your case. You don't have to dress formally. Wear comfortable **SPAM**. You'll be standing in front of glass window the entire appointment. I traveled by plane to Chicago and had a medium-sized backpack/carry-on. It was not an issue with building security or consulate personnel. Follow all the instructions on the application. Bring all the documents they ask for, and all those related to your line that are not listed.
I arrived about 10 minutes early for my 11am appointment. After five minutes or so, a man dressed in a suit arrived at the reception window and I checked in then took a seat. There was a couple at the one of the windows, possibly doing some work on citizenship via jure matrimonii. They were having some issues and being brash at times with the interviewer, who happened to be the same person I was to meet, so my appointment started about 20 minutes late. It didn't bother me at all, and gave me some extra time to relax and review my papers.
At the passport services window next to mine there was a woman haggling on and on in Italian with two other consulate officials; something to do with documents from Mexico. The debate spilled over to my interview with Margherita Ferro, the citizenship official, with them asking her questions and her offering input. This went on for about 15 minutes and I managed to avoid getting frustrated, but was worried that if full attention was not being paid to my documents, something might be overlooked and come back to haunt me later. After the woman left, the two other officials apologized to me for the interruptions. No big deal. Everyone I interacted with was very cordial, smiling, and seem to be happy in their jobs.
My documents were organized in an expandable file folder with each family member having their own folder pocket. Translations were paper clipped on top of the document, and I also included a photocopy of each document, including apostilles, in a separate section of the file. She did not really use the translations, but instead went straight to checking documents for name and date consistencies. I think the translations are more for the Italian comune. I mentioned that I had copies of all documents, and she said she'd tell me later which ones she needed (at the end of the interview).
After determining that I did in fact qualify, she asked for documents from the oldest ancestor, starting with birth records through death, one at time, on down the line. Some items in my documents that might be helpful to note are:
My great-grandfather's naturalization record shows the marriage date as off by one day and one year. She noticed this right away, but didn't seem to mind. The USICS naturalization record is nothing more than a set of photocopies and the birth dates of my GGP's children are redacted. I also included certified copies of the naturalization record from the county level that shows the children's birth dates. This is probably not necessary, but she used those copies for locating my grandfather's birthday. I found that it is much quicker and easier to obtain the record directly from the county office, rather than the national USICS genealogy division. My grandfather used the middle initial "A." for Angelo on several of his documents, although it does not appear on his birth certificate or passport. She got hung up on this several times, but it didn't seem to be a deal breaker. My grandfather amended his b/c in the early '80s to correct errors in the spelling of his father's name, change is first name from Alfredi to Fred, and correct is sex listing. She didn't understand this at first, and I had to explain that he went by the name "Fred" his whole life, and that they made a mistake at hospital by listing his sex as female. My grandparents were married in Reno, NV in the early '50s. They did not require birth dates or towns on the marriage license. I obtained both the license and certificate, as well as an apostilled letter from the Washoe county recorder explaining the omissions. My grandfather's death certificate lists him as "Divorced." She asked about that, but did not ask for the divorce record. Thankfully. I changed my last name in 2001 to take both my step-father's last name and my Italian family name. I brought the certified court order, apostilled and translated. Strangely, my marriage certificate does not list the town of the marriage, only the county. She didn't like that at all, but after some convincing, let it go.
I also presented color copies of my, my wife, and my child's passports with the application, along with the A.I.R.E form and the form to register my marriage certificate in Italy, unsigned. She noted that I must have an older marriage-register form, because there was only one space for a signature, and mentioned that my wife must also sign it. She said I could have her sign it and mail it back. She then dismissed me to a counter on the other side of the office to fill out the form for registering a minor child's b/c, while she took my large stack of documents back to her office.
After about an hour and 45 minutes of going through all my documents (I presented more than other cases, most likely), it appeared I was going to leave with only having to send back the marriage form with my wife's signature added. But alas, the deal-breaker. She came back to the window 10 minutes later with the stack of documents and quickly stated that I need to amend my birth certificate to show the name change. That had never crossed my mind. She said doing that, rather than only showing the name change court order, would reduce confusion and delay in Italy. After two hours there, and seeing how meticulous and professional she was, I took her word for it. Like someone who previously had appointments in Chicago told me, "Expect the unexpected."
So, I'll need to process an amendment through the California Vital Statistics office, and get the amended b/c apostilled and translated, which will take at least three months. The good side is, she said when I received the new b/c I can mail her all the documents, rather than return to Chicago. I just hope she doesn't find something else she needs the next time around.
josh it looks like i'll be needing to request an appointment through chicago.
1) do you simply need to bring the passport to show the consulate and leave a copy of it or do you actually have to leave the physical passport with them at the appointment until they make a decision?
i ask b/c i'm looking to do a lot of int'l travel in the next two years and i can't do that without my passport
2) any thought on best way to schedule appointments with this consulate? from info online, it looks like i can't even request an appt until nov 2012 and that likely appt dates won't be granted until 2013, rough estimate 6 months.
- i'm curious how long it takes them to reply to an appt request so that i can plan my travel around it?
i would hate to have to take off on my trip without a date, get notified while enroute and then fly back from overseas to try to accomodate (will be a lot more expensive to do it this way).
- also wondering how flexible this (and other) consulates might be with scheduling flexibility once you get an assigned appt date if you actually want to reschedule it?
if you or anybody else has thoughts on the matter i'd greatly appreciate it
Hello, You do not have to leave your passport at the consulate, just a copy. I brought my passport and a color copy.
In my case, I sent in an appointment request on June 3, 2011 and six days later I received an email explaining they are not accepting any requests until "after January 1st, 2012." I took this to mean January 2, so I sent one in on that day. After not receiving a reply after a couple weeks, I sent a follow-up email on January 16. The next day, the citizenship official (Margherita Ferro) replied that she was still scheduling appointments for those who sent in their requests on January 1st. She later replied and set my appointment for May 16, 2012 at 11am.
I've seen elsewhere people getting appointments earlier. Seems to me they process appointment requests in the order they are received. I've also heard people asking for a different date than they received.
I suggest also checking out this forum: http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/index.php --If you haven't already. It is very informational and well organized by subject and has several members who commonly answer questions or direct you to other places on the forum for answers.
Hi Josh, Any word from Chicago yet?? Times seem to vary. I never got a letter, but received a voting ballot in Italian in February in the mail! I called and asked why, and Margherita told me they never received anything from the Comune, but that I'm in the AIRE system (?) and to go ahead and apply for our passports! Yay! She said I was recognized in December, which would have been 12 months since all documents were officially submitted.
Hello Angela, Nice. Congratulations! Did you set up an appointment for a passport? That must have been a fun surprise, getting a Italian ballot in the mail.
No word yet. I sent her all my documents last September. In late December I emailed and she said all documents were sent to Italy. I emailed again in early April and she said has not heard from the comune, but would notify me when she does. I wonder how common it is for the comune not contacting the consulate? My comune responded fairly quickly in 2011 when I sent a request for my GGF's birth record. I've thought about writing them another letter to see if they've processed the info. So, you called her directly, eh? Did you get through on the first try?
Thanks for thinking of me and providing such helpful information!
Thanks for sharing your experience. It's made me a little nervous hearing how strict she can, but I'm glad to know what I'm walking into before I get there. Hopefully that will help me prepare better. Are you still willing to share your spreadsheet of documents? It would be helpful to know exactly what she is looking for. I'm going through my GGF>GM>M, and I've read various things on different sites about what I need to bring.
Question... Were your mother and/or grandmother still alive when applied? If so, did they automatically have their citizenship recognized, or would they have to apply separately in order to be recognized? I'm asking because I have six other family members that would like to be recognized, and we're trying to figure out the best way to do that and share documents.
Yes, I can send you the spreadsheet, no problem. Let me know your email address and I'll send it off.
My mother and grandmother are still alive, but they do not automatically qualify. They would have to apply separately, since they live in different jurisdictions. And my grandmother would not really qualify since she and my grandfather divorced in the 1960s. If your family members who qualify live in the same jurisdiction, it is possible that you could all meet with the consulate at the same time and share documents. It depends on if they allow that in Chicago. I don't know about that. You might send the citizenship department an email and ask them.
Let me know if you have more questions. I'm happy to help.