Friday, September 28, 2007

Bureaucracy Revisited

Well, almost 5 months to the day of applying for the cherished Permisso di Soggiorno, I got my appointment. This is the card that everyone must get if they are staying in Italy longer than the 90 days allowed by a passport. The Visa I got basically gets me into the country and requires me to apply for the PDiS within 8 days of my arrival.

Last December, the government changed the process. Everyone used to go to their local Questura (police headquarters) to apply and receive the card. It apparently was a nightmare process (and what isnt in Italy), so they bought some half baked computer system and decided that all applications would go through the Post Office, be mailed to Rome and scanned. They estimated that all PDiS applications would be processed in no more than 17 days.

As of today, there are over 1 million people like me who applied and are walking around with a paper receipt but no card. The new process is so overwhelmed and backlogged that I am not sure how they are every going to get out from under. There are regular protests in Rome by the workers and/or the applicants but so far, not much more than pointing fingers has happened.

Keep in mind, I am here legally with this receipt but without the official card, some of my actions are limited. One of the best is travel. With just a receipt you are not legally allowed to travel within (yes, within) the EU. In fact, you are supposed to only go to your home country and not touch ground, even for a connection in any other EU country. So, as many of you know, I cancelled my mission trip to Romania which is currently happening this week. I have also put on hold a side trip to Prague because of the fear of not being legal in other places (they dont have to accept a receipt as legal paperwork). Of course, the chances of me being caught and deported or whatever is slim to none, but I am trying my best to do it the right way.

You can only imagine my surprise when my appointment date has been scheduled for July 30, 2008. That's right. Next year. Next year after I will probably not be here and will be back in Phoenix. Next year on a Wednesday at exactly 12:18 in the afternoon! Does anyone else find the irony in them scheduling me an appointment almost a year out but can be so specific as to say 12:18pm?!

So, now I have to make a trip to the Questura on my own (what a joy) to explain to them that I need an appt. before this time and throw myself on the mercy of the Italian government in hopes that they will agree. I am sure you can hear in my voice the utter excitement at all of this. Trust me, I know illegal immigration is a serious problem and something has to be done (in all countries), but I have a special place in my heart now for people who do makes perfect sense right now.

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