I'm five months out from my big move to Calabria, Italy, and let me tell ya: immigration is no walk in the park. I'm a very DIY kind of gal, but I have opted to work with an Italian attorney because the process is clear as...mud.
Why You Want to Hire an Italian Lawyer
There are two primary reasons I decided to work with an Italian lawyer. The first, as I said, is that the process has been a bit murky. I might not have realized that I needed to get moving so far out (more on that in the next section).
The other is that, while my Italian is pretty decent, it does not extend to legal terms and speaking to harried government workers. I can barely do that in English! Hiring an attorney who knows the process and is sure to get it right the first time was well worth the cost. If you're curious, I paid, in total with fees, under $5k. An investment I do not regret.
It Starts with the Decreto Flussi
I started interviewing attorneys in February, thinking I had plenty of time. But no. When I found the woman I wanted to hire, she told me that we had only until the middle of March to file under the Decreto Flussi. This is an annual period when seasonal workers and self-employed people (that's me!) can apply to become residents. There's a limit to how many in each region are allowed in.
I guess you can apply for this yourself, but I have no idea how. The information I found online was so confusing, which is why I hired help. And I'm glad I did (though the verdict is still out because the process isn't complete!).
My attorney went to the Chamber of Commerce on my behalf to get a certificate of "no impediment," which essentially says there's no reason I can't move forward with my application. I don't know what they're basing this on! I could be a criminal at this point.
Wait...ARE You a Criminal?
The next step my lawyer took was to apply for the Nulla Osta on my behalf. This is another security clearance measure (are they both? Unclear). Apparently, all she needed was my passport and my resume to prove I'm no criminal.
Here's Where Things Get Very Italian
If you know anything about Italy, you know that Italians can sometimes be...contrarian and make extra work for themselves and others. In this case, there were a few pointless hoops I had to jump through.
The first was that I had to show I had a 30+ day reservation in Italy in the coming weeks when my attorney applied for the Nulla Osta. I guess this was to prove I was serious about being in Italy...but I actually have no plans to go right now.
So she recommended I make a reservation and then cancel it. Uh, okay. By the way, if you do this, check the cancellation policy. I booked an AirBnB and saw that if I had waited another day to cancel it, I would have lost half of the balance. Hotel aggregators don't usually allow you to book for more than 28 days, so I recommend going directly to a hotel site to do so.
Okay, pointless hotel reservation made and cancelled. Next?
For the visa application (my next step) I have to show I have a certain amount of money in the bank. Like, a lot of money. More than I typically have in the bank (it's 18,000 euros, if you're curious). I managed to find the money, but it of course has other purposes in my life.
Good news! All I have to do is show a bank statement at my consulate interview and then I can release that money back into the wild!
These are just two of the contrarian, pointless exercises I've experienced in this immigration process. I'm sure there's more fun to come!
On to the Consulate
I gave a sigh of relief when my attorney told me the first phase was complete. Now I have an appointment at the Italian Consulate in LA in June, where hopefully I will charm the person I interview with and they will give me my visa. I'll write more when I know what that process entails. Lots of paperwork, you can be sure.
If all goes well, I will move at the start of September. I'm visiting Calabria in June to start looking at houses (I will rent)! This is all becoming real!