...and another positive experience. Why the surprise? I have heard SO many nightmare stories about this consulate, yet I've had nothing but positive experiences with the people there. I was there to get 7 more document translations certified and it went very smoothly.
I follow these simple guidelines when visiting the consulate:
- Budget a lot of time. The Philadelphia consulate, in particular, is always packed and you will spend a few hours there even when taking care of a seemingly simple task.
- Be patient. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I know that patience is an absolute necessity when dealing with the overworked folks at the consulate.
- Be sweet as pie. When the woman behind the desk apologized to me today ("Today you were not so lucky, I'm sorry for the wait"), I said "That's OK, I don't mind waiting. Thank you so much." I got the most gracious smile in return.
- Be prepared. Papers not collated? End of the line. Cash not on hand? End of the line. Missing original copies of things? End of the line. They do not mess around at the Italian consulate. Do yourself a favor and come prepared.
- Know that they aren't doing you any favors. I watched a girl walk into the consulate today, announce that she had decided to study abroad at the last moment and explained that she needed a study visa -- by TOMORROW. That entitled attitude gets you nowhere -- and fast -- with Italians.
Over the course of two visits, I've spent a total of 5 hours at the consulate in Philadelphia. I've overheard conversations about study visas, healthcare, dual citizenship, marriages, and just about every other consulate service possible. What has shocked me the most is just how poorly the consulate workers are treated by the non-Italians that come in for various reasons.
If you somehow swing an appointment for dual citizenship and the person sitting across the table is in a bad mood it's probably for a good reason. Be cordial, kind and understanding to them and I guarantee it will get you further.
Countdown to Italy: 4 Days