Let's chat about red tape...not just here (although it is quite amazing) but also in the US. I have a friend due to get on a plane Tuesday to come visit me but has not received her passport after almost 4 months of sitting in an office somewhere. I have been keeping up to date about the mess at the passport agency in the US. It never ceases to amaze me that the government will make some new law and then not have in place the manpower or know how to accomplish it. So, if the postman does not deliver her passport on Monday, she is going to have to pay $200 to change her ticket...why should she have to pay--obvious question. I bet if the agency was held responsible, they would be more efficient?!
And now on to Italy. Getting my VISA truly was the easy part. After coming here, I had 7 days to apply for my Permisso di Sogiorno--permission to stay (you can read about that an earlier post). I applied on May 7th. The old format was that you went to the local police (for sometimes days in a row) with all the same paperwork you used to get the VISA. The would review, give you some flack, approve, take your fingerprints and you would have an official card. This apparently could take up to 3 months for the whole process. Well, in an effort to streamline and because of so many complaints, they changed the process.
They now have they computer generated 'modules' (i.e. forms) to fill out that can supposedly be scanned and approved. You fill it out, go to your local post office where they mail it to Rome....Rome reviews and sends back to your local police with anything they feel needs to be explained or is missing or they just want to give you flack about. The local police schedules an appt. for you where you explain and get your fingerprints and then your card. Sounds easy enough, but since this new process started last November, they are now 600,000 backlogged!!!! These are people who are applying for the first time (me), applying for renewals (the majority), and applying for citizenship. There are now protests going on weekly from both the applicants and the workers begging the government to step in and do something. So far, nothing.
So what this means is that I am legally allowed to be here because I have a receipt showing that I have applied. However, without the official document, I am not allowed to travel within the EU. I dont completely understand why (this would be like me not being able to travel to Chicago from Phoenix in my way of thinking) since I have a VISA, etc. but this is what I am being told. I can only travel to my home country and I cannot make a stop in the EU to do it. The backlog is about 9-10 months at this point. I should be receiving my official card just in time for my year to be over! Now THAT is bureaucracy at its finest!
The worst part is that I had a mission trip planned with my church back home to go to Romania in September. I am being told they are profiling people who dont resemble Italians and checking their documents. So, I could probably skate through immigration/customs because of my hair/skin color but I really dont want to risk it. Having an apartment and cat in Italy, the rest of my belongings in Phoenix and being stuck in Romania does not sound like a fun time.
So, with all of this paperwork inefficiency, I just sit in awe and wonder how countries can sometimes function. I used to think the same about my last job and some of the things that went on there...a multibillion dollar company---now it is magnified to the country level and I can only wonder about the rest of the business and foreign ecostructure that is going on.....its really much more scary than George Orwells 1984 book that we were all nervous about years ago when it came out! I think I will go read Harry Potter now to take my mind off of reality!