Tag Archives: Questura

Mission accomplished!

20 Nov
On this lovely fall day in Roma, after many months of planning, process and waiting, not to mention a ream of paper and a bucket full of ink, we finally obtained the Holy Grail that allows us to remain in the Schengen Zone legally: our permessi di soggiorno (residence permits) are in our hands!
Of course, this last step was not without quirks. I wrote in early October about the process thus far: Applying for a visa in San Francisco, working through the machinations of Poste Italiane to file our permesso packets, and then the interesting trip to the Questura di Roma Divisione Stranieri in a seedy part of Roma to be fingerprinted and processed. (Questura is police station and isn’t it amusing — and a little offensive  — that foreigners are called stranieri? The same word in Italian can also mean alien, stranger, or enemy.)
When we left after our appointment at the Divisione Stranieri, we were told we would be able to pick up our permessi in about 40 days, but we could check online to see if they were ready. Last Saturday I checked the web: lo-and-behold, they were ready! Planning to go Monday morning, I rechecked the site to make sure we were headed to the right precinct, and now the site said our permessi were not in the archive. WTF? It also said we would receive an SMS when they were ready with a time and place to pick them up.
Like any residents of Italy, we have developed cynicism about exactly how things worked, so after one more check today (still not in the archive) we decided to drop by the precinct (Commissariato) and check.
Upon arrival, I showed the officer our receipts for permessi and we were pointed to a waiting room. Eventually, another officer came and asked if we were there for passports. No, I told him, permessi, adding a  brief explanation of why I thought they’d be ready. We waited a few moments more while he checked something, and were waived back to his office. Score! Except he wanted the receipt from Poste Italiane that was such a problem since PI  screwed that up. I told him we left those at the Questura and all they gave us was the receipts we had just handed him. With a little Italian bureaucratic shrug, he accepted that explanation and proceeded. Oh-by-the-way, do not attempt this if you do not speak a decent amount of Italian. 
We noted an interesting mix of technology and paper processes. Our permessi are electronic, and programming had to be completed by the officer, including a fingerprint scanned to the chip on the card. But he also had to keep a log in an old-fashioned manual ledger noting our names, DOBs, passport and permesso numbers. He asked us for our cell phone numbers, which certainly were in the system, but he wanted them in writing along with our signatures proving we’d received the permessi. Then he wanted to verify where we lived and whether we owned the apartment. Again, something divulged in both the visa and permesso application packets. Then he wanted our landlady’s name and phone number. Presumably to check and see if we really live here. However, the proprietor had to register us with this very same precinct when we moved in last May. Methinks there are silos of information.
Taken in a photo booth, as all official photos are done here, I look like a deer in the headlights. But this is solid gold if you want to be int eh Schengen Zone more than 90 days out of 180!

Taken in a photo booth, as all official photos are done here, I look like a deer in the headlights. But this is solid gold if you want to be in the Schengen Zone more than 90 days out of 180!

Allora, Mission Accomplished! We are good until August 28, 2016, one year from our date of entry. Then we do it all over again.

A trip to the Questura

6 Oct
I should be writing about our trip to Switzerland and showing you beautiful pictures. I could be writing about the James Beard Foundation dinner we attended in Milan. (if anyone ever suggests you attend one, please do!) However, I am writing today about the latest installment in our journey to obtain the Permesso di Soggiorno we each need to remain in Italy legally.  Today, we visited the Questura (police station).
When I wrote about Our journey so far,  I mentioned we walked out of Poste Italiane with appointments for fingerprinting.  Here’s what I said at the end of that very long post:

At one point, he seemed to have completed my packet but handed me a receipt copy of the mailing label for sending the documents to the Questura that bore Ric’s name. I tried to point it out but was waved off. He proceeded with Ric’s packet then could not figure out why he did not have the proper label. Once again I tried to point out the problem but was waved off. He had Ric fill out another label, so now both my packet and Ric’s were labeled with Ric’s name and we feared the numbers would not be right in the system. More discussion. Papers shuffled. Perplexed expression. He opened my sealed application packet and saw the error. Not sure what to do, he simply manually corrected the code number on two documents so they match. The numbers in the computer system and what I have on paper match only because of a hand correction. Not sure that will fly….

Now we have appointments with the Questura for fingerprinting and I suppose some sort of interview, but God knows if this mix-up of coded paperwork at Poste Italiane will plague me. Maybe Ric will get a Permesso and I will be deported.

What I did not mention is that Poste Italiane set appointments for us on a day we would not be in Italy due to our planned trip to Switzerland. We shuddered to think of un-arranging those plans as we had cat sitters scheduled and we’d be forfeiting not only three days of our Swiss trek, but several hundred Euros in changed transportation and canceled lodging.
The first step in getting the appointment changed was to see if we were in the system. I looked every day. Eight days after the Poste Italiane experience, the Polizia di Stato website for stranieri showed Ric in the system. Hooray! But as I expected, the mix-up of coded paperwork made finding myself a problem. The number on the receipt the PI guy gave me was not right, but I was able to deduce it from the error I observed and so was able to find myself as well. I simply wrote a nice email to the Questura stating it would be difficult for us to make our appointments on 25 September, could we come sometime after 4 October? Miracle of miracles, they wrote back within one business day and changed them! Off to Switzerland we went.
Today, we journeyed to the Questura di Roma Divisione Stranieri (foreigners division) for our appointments. This division is located in the eastern part of Rome, near the notorious Tor Sapienza, where there is a refugee center and Rom (i.e., Gypsy) camp. Nice ‘hood. Luckily we took a taxi, both ways, as it would otherwise be two long bus rides and a stretch on the Metro, not to mention a walk through this area known for violence and immigrant problems. The Questura facility itself is behind unfriendly fences and, of course, there were dozens of people of assorted nationalities coming-and-going.
The first problem presented itself when I spoke to a member of the Italian Army who was organizing who should go where before we even got into the building. In addition to the email I had that confirmed our appointments, he wanted to see my original receipts from Poste Italiane. The guy at PI did not give those to us, despite my insistence we needed them. We were given copies with his stamp and initials on them. The soldier did not like this at all, but he let us get in line.
Once past security, we were corralled with everyone else that was there for the 12:30 pm appointments, hoofing it up to 3rd floor (4th American) because the elevator was only for use by pregnant women and the elderly. (Seriously. That’s what it said.) We don’t cotton to being elderly, so we walked up.
A clerk was checking paperwork and handing each person the packet that Poste Italiane had sent in for them. When it came to our turn, we were sent to the secretary on the second floor. It seems she was the one who changed our appointment date. But this woman said no, wait, the third floor has to handle this. She called upstairs then kindly accompanied us, apologizing all the way, telling us not to worry. She also wanted to know which office of the Poste Italiane had messed this up.
Back on the third floor, again more apologies, but no, they did not have our packets. (Yikes!) We were ushered to a very nice and competent immigration clerk who was able to process us. Not only did we have the problem that Poste Italiane had goofed up the code numbers as I suspected, but the packets had been sent to the third floor of the Questura for the original appointments scheduled for September 25th. Seems the agreement to change the appointment date didn’t get lined up with the delivery of the packets. I suspect we were seen as “no shows” on the 25th.
Our helpful and competent immigration official was able to find our application packets in their system, apparently scanned, and she made the appropriate cross-references, correcting the errors of Poste Italiane. There was much consultation among colleagues, and I know we were cutting into their lunch hour as it was now past 13:00, but she recognized the foul-up was theirs (and Poste Italiane’s) so she patiently worked through it and arranged for some people in the fingerprinting office to wait for us before going to lunch. We had brought along all the paper we submitted in San Francisco for our visas, as well as originals of everything submitted with the Permesso applications.  They asked for none of this, much to our surprise. The lease that was a sticking point with the Consulate General in San Francisco was a non-issue after all. I am glad we decided NOT to have it re-written and reregistered, for once saving a few hundred Euros.
What we experienced at the Questura was good teamwork, and in the way of all Italian networks, news of our problem with PI had spread like wildfire and everyone was talking about the error PI had made and trying to make it up to us. No one said, “It’s lunchtime I’m leaving.” We were treated very professionally and with courtesy. On our way out there were many farewells and thank yous all around, from the fingerprint people to the soldiers.
One more step to go: In about 40 days we should be able to pick up our Permesso cards at the commissariato (police station) near our home. Then we get to do it all over again next year to renew.
%d bloggers like this: