What will happen at your Permesso di Soggiorno Appointment?
My process and what you can learn from it:
Most expats get nervous about their permesso di soggiorno appointment at the questura (police office). But, because my paper work had been done by INAC, I was confident. What could go wrong?
But then on an expat forum I was told to “have a thick skin” and “they will yell at you” and “take someone with you who speaks fluent Italian.”
My Italian is pretty good although it would probably falter if I was being yelled at in a police station. So I began to wonder if I needed to bring someone with me. But my new Italian acquaintances were working so I went on my own.
I arrived early for my appointment and was seen about 40 minutes after the time of my appointment. The small room was hot and stunk of sweat. In front of me were 3 Albanian women who did not speak Italian. At a different window were a mass of African men.
I noticed that the man at my window was quite pleasant with the non-italian speaking Albanian women. I also observed that the Italians dealing with the Africans seemed relaxed and patient.
When my turn came, the man was quite cheery with me.
He did not ask for any of my financial documents. Only for my passport, my post office receipt and 3 photos.
I said, “ne ho quattro” when I handed him the un-cut sheet of 4 photos. He replied that I spoke Italian well and that it was no problem for him to cut out 3 of the photos.
Then he told me I needed to take a course.
Now this is something I’d not heard of and I registered surprised in my reply. He gave me a handout in English that said “Notice to participate in the civic training session” and said that if I don’t attend it I’ll loose 15 points.
I didn’t know I had any points. Is this like a game? Immigrants versus Italians?
“You have to demonstrate a certain capability with the language and a knowledge of civic life…” he explained to me.
“I have taught about the civic life of 15th century Florence in my courses on the Florentine Renaissance.” I tell him.
“Ha ha, you could teach the course then! But nevertheless you need to take it.” He said cheerily.
This “course” is part of the Integration Agreement that was instated in 2012—long after I last lived in Italy.
I was told to wait to be taken to another room for fingerprinting. The only 3 chairs were taken up the Albanians. I stood and sweated, rather contently, because I was on my way to becoming legal in Italy.
My name was called by a man on other side of the throng of Africans. I, and the Albanians, followed him to another office where the air was much fresher. He seemed about my age and looked like a sailor with a super tan face, a white polo shirt, and sneakers.
The elderly Albanian woman was having trouble standing so he took both her hands as he brought her toward the finger printing station. He made a joke about it being “un ballo Latino Americano” and I laughed. The Albanians didn’t understand what he said and looked at me curiously. But they didn’t speak English either so I couldn’t explain why I was laughing.
After I was fingerprinted I was told I could go. Sailor man said I would get a notice when my permesso was ready. Maybe by SMS, maybe a call, or maybe I was supposed to check online. He didn’t know.
That was good enough for me. I thanked him and left.
No yelling. No nightmares!
The take aways from this post:
For those who don’t speak Italian: If your questura is small and friendly you should be OK on your own at your permesso di soggiorno appointment if you’ve followed prior steps accurately. If your questura is a large hectic one, bring someone with you who speaks Italian.
Be prepared to be given a specific date when you must attend the civil life course.
To learn more about the civil life course see Post #1 of the Integration Agreement.