Getting my Visa

I have had a busy month! I am thankful for that since I have began to feel kind of idle here recently.

After weighing all of the options Lorenzo’s parents decided that it was safest and best if I go home and get a student visa so that I can stay here legally for the next six months and travel around Europe without having to look over my shoulder every time I crossed a border or came within ten feet of a police officer. They did a lot of research and took a lot of time to help me out and I am always thankful for that because they didn’t have to ever get involved but they wanted to!

So I spend two weeks in the States! Through most of the time I was shuffling from city to city trying to see all of my family and friends, but I did it and it was worth it! I spent one week in Seattle, getting things squared away for my visa application. I have to thank my wonderful family for everything they did to help me; letting me stay in their homes on such short notice, driving me around, going to numerous places to get all the documents I needed, among other things (so, again, thank you all)!! I am the luckiest person alive to have such loving family!

The Vice Consulate in Bothell is a sight to be seen!! Expecting an official looking government office building my mom and I were shocked and amused to find that the office is housed in an old railway car, in the middle of a farming market off of the Bothell-Everett Highway. We didn’t waste the moment and took plenty of photos. After the officer (who to me just seemed like a nice Italian man, nothing official) signed off on my documents we were off to the post office to send them! That done, I was able to let one worry go and another one take it’s place. I always seem to think that if I could just get this one thing to work out then everything will be okay and I will not be bogged down by feelings of worry ever again; needless to say there is always something in my mind and you think that by now I would have learned that something will always come up! Anyway, my worry was that I would not get the visa in time and would have to go reschedule my April 9th flight and miss my first week at work (and after waiting 3 months to start work, one more week seems like a long time!!).

Here are some helpful hints to getting your (student) visa quickly and efficiently.

Bothell Vice Consulate

What you need:

  • Your passport
  • 1 additional passport sized photo
  • The visa application; which includes a declaration that you will sign for the Permesso di Soggiorno within 8 days of arriving in Italy.
  • A letter of enrollment from the school you are studying at; this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get and can be in Italian.
  • A letter from your bank stating that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay (you can always have some “lend” you money for a week while the bank gets the letter printed).
  • A copy of your flight itinerary (must include a return ticket), if you have not purchased a return ticket you must include an affidavit stating your intention to purchase and state that you have sufficient funds.
  • An copy of your international insurance policy or an affidavit stating you will purchase insurance upon your arrival.

Additional Documents (which I found helpful):

  • A letter of support from my parents stating that they would support me financially if necessary; this must include their bank statement or pay stubs as well.
  • A letter of support from any person that may be willing to “sponsor” you in your time abroad; this is very situational but for example my boyfriend’s father was able to write a letter stating he would support me in the form of accommodation.

It’s always a good idea to include too much rather than too little; I was sure to include the financial support even though I had sufficient funds to support myself–it just allows less room for questions and speeds the process along.

The process of filing the application was a bit more complicated for me because I did not live in a city that hosted a major consulate. I had to go to the Vice Consulate and have the Vice Consular Officer sign off on all my paperwork then send the documents to San Francisco (my area Consulate) myself.

You must provide the express shipping envelopes yourself, pre-addressed to you, for your passports safe return.

I was incredibly lucky in all of this because as I stated above in my desperate attempt to keep my job (it seems stupid now) I wanted to be back in Italy two weeks later.

I had been e-mailing back and forth the Vice Consular Officer (in Bothell) and the Consular Officer (in San Francisco) to be sure I had everything I needed. I have heard too many stories of people being denied visas because they didn’t have the appropriate documents. And, to be honest, the websites are not the most up-to-date and helpful guides in knowing what you need.

Once the package was mailed off I waited a day and then began calling the Consulate in San Francisco in hope that if I plead with my voice to someone to push my application through it would work. After about three days of calling and getting a hold of no one, I finally got someone. I explained the situation to him; my flight and my desperation to get back there (tricky since I couldn’t tell him it was really for work not school). He seemed surprised at my question and answered me in a way that Italians tend to when they think you are being stupid. He told me it was nearly impossible to get an application through that fast and he hadn’t even seen mine yet (meaning he had about three days to process it and send it back).

Bummer, I was going to have to reschedule my flight. Marco, as I later learned his name was, told me he would get my application that day but that I wouldn’t be getting it in time but to call him in two days just in case. I called him the morning before I was meant to leave back to Italy and he seemed a bit confused as to who I was. Then he remembered,

“Oh yes, I was very kind with you. I have done your visa and it should be in the mail right now.”

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! I was ecstatic! Needless to say, the passport arrived just hours before I was set to leave for the airport. I was on my way and back to Italy, my job and my lost little boyfriend who told me that he had looked up flights to Seattle “just in case”.