So you want to get an Italian Visa? (Part 2)

The saga continues… read to find out how the actual Visa application process went in Part 2 of my Visa obtaining process!


Part 2.png

I finally got my Visa, so here’s Part 2 of the infamous Visa process (if you missed Part 1, you can read it here)…

giphy5

 

Once you have the DV all taken care of, it’s time to gather all your other documents for your Visa and make photo copies!

Tip: Get some kind of folder/envelope to hold all your documents in.  I got one of these plastic envelope things to hold everything in so I didn’t lose anything. It’s important to stay organized here, people! (Plus I really love shopping for office supplies)

Before I get into the actual process here (feel free to skip ahead if you don’t want to hear my ramblings), I thought it might be fun to tell you guys a little story about my experience. I thought after getting the DV, the actual Visa application was going to be the easy part – no surprise, but I was wrong.

After reading up on some things online, I found that the New York Consulate (which I went to) has some kind of notoriety.  Chalking that up to just being bitter reviews from the few people who didn’t have such a jolly time, I decided to ignore them and go on my merry way.

BUT THEY WERE RIGHT.  EVERYTHING YOU READ ONLINE IS TRUE.

First of all, let me just paint a picture here: It’s a humid Tuesday morning.  I’ve been up since the crack of dawn, having left two-and-a-half hours early for a 9:45 appointment in the city.  This is a good thing, since there was a little bit of traffic.  Despite my exhaustion and half-assed eyeliner, I’m bright-eyed and eager to get this over with.  I have eaten half a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a bagel.  This is not important, but I am hungry writing this, and it was a good bagel.

We get into the city and find parking.  I look around for the Visa office, expecting to see a large, shiny building, with Italian flags soaring and windows reflecting the hopes and dreams of the people.  Plot twist: I did not hear the people sing. Instead, what I find is a small black door with the number “54”on it in a half wall with barbed wire on top, tucked between two actual buildings, and a crowd of people milling outside looking as confused as I now am.

Visa Office Image.png

On the door itself is a list of documents and what order they should be in.  They seem pretty serious about having everything in the right order.  There’s also an example of what the pre-paid & stamped envelope should look like (more on this later).  It’s still early – it’s 8:45, and the “Consulate” (aka the black door) doesn’t open until 9:00.  I notice that the envelope on the door and the one I have don’t match. Everybody seems uneasy about their own envelopes.  Now I am uneasy. The sky is dark and ominous.

To ensure I have the right envelope (God forbid I have the wrong envelope – I think this with sarcasm at first, but it becomes all too real later on), we decide (did I mention I was here with my dad?) to make a mad dash to the post office, which is about 3 blocks away.  We obtain the right envelope, and sprint back, dodging people walking to work and the little old Asian lady FaceTiming with her friend while walking on the sidewalk.

chicken_february_2009-1
Actual image of me running down the streets in NYC.

It is about 9:20 now, and people are still outside the door.  There are a few more now, but everybody looks even more confused.  Apparently, the people whose appointments were at 9:00 still haven’t been called in yet.  We stand outside the black door, waiting.

Finally, some brave soul who decides to take her destiny into her own hands goes up to the tiny intercom to the left of the door and presses the button.  She states her purpose (unfortunately there was no secret password), and a security guard comes outside. Apparently, you have to buzz the intercom to be let in at the time of your appointment.  There are no signs about having to do this on the door, which is surprising because the door is filled with instructions. All of us waiting outside have A New Hope as people begin going in for their appointments.

newhopemain

This New Hope quickly vanishes.  Waiting outside is disconcerting, as the Little Black Door™ (or LBD – do not get this confused with Little Black Dress) opens every so often, not with the security lady coming to let new people in, but with the people who had just gone in for their appointments.  They do not open the door with prideful purpose as if they have just Achieved something; rather, they fling the door open with reckless abandon, looking around with crazed, glassy eyes.  “Where is the post office?” they ask desperately before Usain Bolt-ing down the street.

Now I am glad I have just made the dash myself to get The Correct Envelope, which is apparently some kind of treasured idol, as more and more people fling the door open and run full sprint towards the post office.  Those of us still waiting outside cower together like Emperor penguins – Winter Is Coming.  I bond with a few of them over the entire process and how stressed we are.  In that moment, I realize nothing is more beautiful than the bonds forged in the midst of adversity.

2d5dac11c8428dff8d459040c76fe2d6
Us, steeled against the brutal winter that is the Italian Visa process.

Finally, it’s time for my appointment.  I push the button on the magic black box, and the security lady opens the door to let me in.  My dad is not allowed inside – I must make this journey alone.  I follow her down a set of stairs, clambering behind her with the grace of a lame elephant, and stop at a window.  She takes my phone away, hands me a key, and a laminated piece of paper that lists the documents I should have and what order they need to be in.  With one last longing look at my phone – my last key to the outside world – I enter the abyss that is the waiting room.  Winter Is Here.

Winter Is Here.png
Unrelated side note: YAS SANSA. MY KWEEN.

The waiting room is surreal.  There are no clocks and no indication of the passing of time.  I was now Odysseus heading for Ithaca, trying to resist the lure of the isle of the lotus eaters.

tumblr_inline_mr385w7w6l1qz4rgp

There are three clerks in the room.  Students sit in a line against the wall, and others – people waiting for tourist Visas, business Visas, or the like – are sitting in a sea of chairs in the middle of the rooms.  They are given numbers, and every so often, a red light glares for them.  Students wait in order of entering the room.

There is no rhyme or reason here – no single window seems to be designated for students or for The Others, so it’s hard to tell when the next student will be called.  They like to keep you on your toes here.  You have to earn your Visa.

Finally, after who knows how long, it’s my turn.  I go to the window, hand in my originals and my copies, in the order specified on the laminated piece of paper.  I hear the clerks conversing in Italian about everybody’s documents and cringe when I hear them talking about mine.  What is a double degree program? They ask each other in Italian.  Hell if I know.

The woman whose window I’m at tells me I need another document.  I feel a strange sense of numbness overcome me.  I’m going to have to come here again, I think to myself with a surprising lack of emotion.  Down once more.

6359929636890265661370189544_tumblr_md704adafz1qbzy4q

But wait! Just as the last of my hope drains, she hands me a slip of paper.  I don’t have to come back.  I can just mail it to them. Rejoice! She takes my envelope (the elusive Correct One) and my money order (and an additional dollar I found in my purse), along with all my other documents, and sends me on my merry way.  I am free.

I go back to the window, hand the security lady the laminated piece of paper she seems so fond of, and retrieve my phone.  I walk up the stairs, open the LBD, and walk out, blinking in the day.

Yes, I still have to retrieve another document, but that path is the easy one.  The sun is now shining.

Gone With the Wind.png


If you decided to read my ramble, I thank you for your patience.  If not, I understand.  Regardless, here’s the actual process:

Step 2: Applying for the Visa
Now, the first thing to do is book an appointment at the consulate – the ones I went to were by appointment only.  You aren’t allowed to book a date within a 90 day window of your entrance into the country, but you can at least try to book a date within that window early (does that make any sense?).

Note: It might be a good idea to try to book that date as close to the 90 day mark as you can to give yourself some wiggle room just in case you end up having to go back to the consulate (or a different consulate) like I had to do.

There are a bunch of documents required by the consulate – you will be asked to provide both originals AND photocopies (of points 6-9 below, but I’ll make sure to note that there as well), so make sure to prepare these ahead of time! (Unless you’re like me and didn’t read the fine print and had to run around an embassy trying to find a photocopier, which I consider to be my cardio for the month).

Note: You can apply to a Visa at either the consulate with jurisdiction of the state you’re a resident of (I’m from New Jersey so that would be the NYC consulate) OR the consulate with jurisdiction over the University you are a full-time student at.  Make sure you check the consulate websites for more information on this.

Here’s the list of documents copied and pasted directly from the Italian consulate in New York.  I’ve tried to link the appropriate forms since they don’t always do so on the website, and I’ve also put in some comments:

2. Students enrolling in full Italian University Programs:

You need to contact the school office of the Italian Consulate (legale.newyork@esteri.it) to accomplish with all the requirements regulated by the M.I.U.R. (Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research) for enrolling in a full Italian University program.

Appointments for a visa can be requested only upon confirmation of the admission to the entrance exam at an Italian University.

Visa requirements:

  1. Visa Application form duly filled in and signed. For short stay visas up to 90 days please download and fill in Schengen Visa application form. For long stay visas beyond 90 days please download and fill in Long term application form;
    • Note: if you’re not quite sure how to fill this out, here’s a helpful guide put together by the nice folks at Syracuse University
  2. Recent passport-style photo (3,5 cm x 4,5 cm or 1”3/8 x 1”3/4, full front and white background);
  3. Passport or travel document valid at least three months over the planned stay in Italy and a photocopy of relevant pages;
  4. Current student ID and a copy. In the case of non U.S. citizens you need to have the U.S. Alien Registration Card, or F1 Visa and updated I-20 and a copy;
  5. One way flight reservation;
    • Note:  If you’re vacationing in Europe before going to Italy, you WILL need a reservation on some kind of transportation to Italy.  A flight into Switzerland with the explanation that you’re going to be traveling around Europe for a bit won’t cut it.  They’re going to need an exact date of entrance into the country.
  6. Copy of declaration of value (dichiarazione di valore), if applicable, issued by the School Office of the Italian Consulate/Embassy having jurisdiction over the University/School that issued the certificate; for any information on the declaration of value and whenever required or necessary, please visit Declarations of Value. (REQUIRES A COPY)
    To schedule an appointment with the School Office of the Consulate General of Italy in New York, or for additional information, please write an email to newyork.notarile@esteri.it ;
  7. Declaration of the availability in Italy of appropriate lodgings. In case the applicant will be staying with friends/family, a letter of invitation is required along with a copy of the host’s ID (“Permit of stay” for non-European Union citizens); (REQUIRES A COPY)
    • Note: I’m lucky enough to have dorms available to me in Italy.  I printed out an email chain of me and the housing department at Unicatt that basically said I’ve paid for my housing next year and am all good to go.
  8. Proof of financial means of support in Italy of no less than 442,30 Euro monthly (aproximatively 600 USD) The availability can be proven through: (REQUIRES A COPY)
    1. – Bank letter showing the details of the personal bank account of the student;
      • Note: You’re going to need at least $15,000 in your OWN bank account (cringe).  It’s really important that it’s your own! See my note on point two below!
    2. – Bank letter showing the details of a joint bank account in the name of both the student and his/her family;
      • Note: This part is kind of ridiculous for a college student who most likely doesn’t have this kind of money.  On their website, they have an Affidavit of financial support, which is basically a letter from a parent/guardian where they basically promise to front your costs.  This part is a little misleading, because unless you’re a minor, THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS! I had my parents fill this out and get it notarized and everything with a recent bank statement, but when I went in to my appointment, they said I couldn’t use it since I’m over 18.  Luckily, they allowed me to email this to them and I didn’t have to make the trek back to the city.
    3. – an official letter from the Financial Aid Advisor, stating the amount granted for that semester and the date of disbursement;
  9. US health insurances letter with the coverage for the first two weeks of your study. The letter from your insurance company must state that you will be covered for all medical expenses, hospitalization and repatriation for at least 30,000 euro during your stay in Europe. If your current insurance company does not provide such coverage, you are requested to find an international insurance (n. 25 of FAQs). (REQUIRES A COPY)
    • Note: If you don’t have such coverage, you can use an Affidavit of Insurance, which is basically a promise on your behalf that you’ll get the appropriate insurance within 8 days of your arrival in Italy – this is what I did

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES:
Something that I found personally frustrating was the fact that the website can be kind of confusing.  For example, the list above is for students enrolling in “full university programs,” but there’s another list right above that one for “study abroad programs” (including programs over 90 days).  Although most of the documents are the same, there were four things in the study abroad program list that were NOT on the full university program list that I brought anyway just because I was told to do so by my advisor:

  1. Photocopy of student’s ID and driver’s license (or state ID).
    • Note: For some reason the full university list only had the student ID as a requirement, but I had both my student ID and license (and copies of both) with me
  2. Letter filled out from the University in Italy (not simply filled out by the American Institution but on their own letterhead) directed to the Visa Office of the Italian Consulate in New York, confirming the enrolment of the student, program dates, duration, weekly hours of attendance (minimum 20 hours a week) and specifying the address of the student’s accommodation. (REQUIRES A COPY)
    • Note: My letter from the University I’m attending in Italy gave me both an Italian and an English version.  Not sure if the Italian version is required, but it might be useful here.
  3. Letter from the University in United States, addressed to the Visa Office of the Italian Consulate in New York, specifying that the student is officially enrolled with said University and confirming his/her enrollment in the University Study Abroad Program in Italy. The letter should also indicate the address of the University in Italy, program dates and duration. (REQUIRES A COPY)
    • Note: Pay special attention to detail on the dates! Make sure they actually match up with the dates on the letter from the University in Italy.
  4. Personal Money Order duly filled out and addressed to Consulate General of Italy, 690 Park Ave., New York NY 10065.
    • Note: This page states that “consular fees can only be paid in cash or by money order,” which leads one to believe that it isn’t entirely necessary to get a money order if paying with cash.  However, in their consular fees list, the Visa fees are separate from their other fees. To be on the safe side, I did a money order since this part is unclear – they can be done at any Post Office!
    • Note 2: On the aforementioned consular fees list, the Visa fee is listed as $56, but when I went to pay, the clerk actually said it was $57.  Luckily, I had a dollar in my purse and they allowed me to pay that way, which leads me to believe that cash is all good (you should probably call them first about this to be on the safe side).

An additional thing that they didn’t really list on the Visa page is a prepaid USPS envelope.  THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.  If you read my short anecdote at the beginning of this post, you’ll notice that I mentioned that multiple people were actually running (I’m not exaggerating on this) out of their appointments to the post office because they didn’t have the correct envelope.  It needs to be USPS (they will NOT accept FedEx or UPS!) and it needs to have the correct stamps.  I originally had the wrong envelope, but after viewing the one on the door, I went to the post office to get the right one.  The right one I got was a Prepaid Priority Mail Express Envelope with the stamps and all, labelled from the Consulate General of Italy of New York (their address is 690 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065).

Worse comes to worse, the post office isn’t that far (here’s a screenshot down below for reference).  I recommend getting the correct envelope and stamps and waiting until you get to the actual door itself to read EXACTLY how to address it!

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 8.31.33 PM.png

Quick, lightning round! Here’s a recap of what you need in total:

Step 1: Pre-Enrollment

  1. Pre-Enrollment Form
    • Including any other documents (if any) required by your specific University
  2. High School Documents
    • Original Diploma – with an accompanying apostille and translation into Italian
    • Official Transcript – with an accompanying apostille and translation into Italian
  3. College Documents
    • Official Transcript – with an accompanying apostille and translation into Italian
    • Letter from the Registrar – with an accompanying apostille and translation into Italian

Step 2: Visa Papers

From the “full Italian University programs” list:

  1. Visa Application form duly filled in and signed. For short stay visas up to 90 days please download and fill in Schengen Visa application form. For long stay visas beyond 90 days please download and fill in Long term application form;
  2. Recent passport-style photo
  3. Passport or travel document valid at least three months over the planned stay in Italy and a photocopy of relevant pages;
  4. Current student ID and a copy. In the case of non U.S. citizens you need to have the U.S. Alien Registration Card, or F1 Visa and updated I-20 and a copy;
  5. One way flight reservation;
  6. Copy of declaration of value (dichiarazione di valore), if applicable, issued by the School Office of the Italian Consulate/Embassy having jurisdiction over the University/School that issued the certificate (REQUIRES A COPY)
  7. Declaration of the availability in Italy of appropriate lodgings. In case the applicant will be staying with friends/family, a letter of invitation is required along with a copy of the host’s ID (“Permit of stay” for non-European Union citizens); (REQUIRES A COPY)
  8. Proof of financial means of support in Italy of no less than 442,30 Euro monthly (aproximatively 600 USD) (REQUIRES A COPY)
  9. US health insurances letter with the coverage for the first two weeks of your study. (REQUIRES A COPY)

+ From the “study abroad programs” list:

  1. Driver’s license (or state ID) (REQUIRES A COPY)
  2. Letter filled out from the University in Italy (not simply filled out by the American Institution but on their own letterhead) directed to the Visa Office of the Italian Consulate in New York, confirming the enrolment of the student, program dates, duration, weekly hours of attendance (minimum 20 hours a week) and specifying the address of the student’s accommodation. (REQUIRES A COPY)
  3. Letter from the University in United States, addressed to the Visa Office of the Italian Consulate in New York, specifying that the student is officially enrolled with said University and confirming his/her enrollment in the University Study Abroad Program in Italy. The letter should also indicate the address of the University in Italy, program dates and duration. (REQUIRES A COPY)
  4. Personal Money Order duly filled out and addressed to Consulate General of Italy, 690 Park Ave., New York NY 10065.

+ The Prepaid (and stamped) USPS Envelope

OTHER TIPS:

  1. GET THERE EARLY!
    • This was especially helpful for me, since I didn’t have the correct envelope.  This gives you time to read all the information on the door and make sure you have everything and everything is in the correct order.
  2. Make sure you’re at the right address!
    • This seems like a no-brainer, but this is actually a tad bit confusing.  The Consulate itself is on Park Ave, but the VISA OFFICE is at a different address (54 E 69th Street).  Tons of people I talked to while waiting outside actually went to the Consulate address before realizing they weren’t at the right office!
  3. Plan your day accordingly!
    • The system is deceptive – online, you reserve a 15-minute time slot, but it doesn’t mean this only takes 15 minutes.  I would set aside an hour for this as there’s a lot of waiting involved: your appointment won’t necessarily start on time (you’re lucky if you’re LET IN at the time you reserved for), and depending on the number of students waiting before you, it could take a lot longer to get to the window itself. There were a lot of people there who looked extra stressed because they had to get to work and their appointments didn’t seem to be going as fast as they had allocated time for.
  4. Dress accordingly & check the weather!
    • When you’re waiting for your appointment, you actually have to wait outside on the street by the door.  I got lucky because although it was as humid as Satan’s armpit, it was at least sunny.  Check the weather and make sure you’re dressed for whatever the forecast is (if you trust the forecast – if not, an umbrella is always handy).
  5. Bring a watch!
    • If you’re not into the whole time-warp surrealism thing, make sure to bring a watch.  They take your cell phone away and there are no clocks inside the waiting room, so if you’re really itching to know the time, you’re going to have to provide your own time-telling device.
  6. Do your research!
    • The website isn’t always helpful, and you’ll notice some inconsistencies.  Make sure to do some good ol’ fashioned Googling and try to dig up some information online.  This is a blog that I found especially helpful in the process.
  7. Be polite!
    • This goes a lot faster if you’re polite and listen to the clerks.  One couple was there when I walked into the room and was still at the same window when I left because they were arguing with the clerk.  (Follow the words of Aaron Burr here – talk less, smile more).
  8. Be patient!
    • Nobody is happy here.  I mean nobody.  This whole process is like the Dementor’s Kiss.  Be patient and try to be positive (it’s hard, I know).

Again, I am NOT an expert in the obtaining of Visas and I can NOT guarantee that by following these steps, you will definitely get a Visa.  I just wrote this post because I know that I was pretty much blind going into it, so I hope that my blunders are either entertaining to read about, or are somewhat helpful to someone going through the same thing.

Remember to always check with the specific consulates/state departments you’re working with, either by emailing them or calling in!

giphy

Good luck, and with a little faith, trust, and pixie dust (and a lot of patience and Moscato) you should be on your way to studying in Italy!

Why didn’t Wendy need a Visa for Neverland? Is anybody else concerned with their security measures? Because I am…


LET’S BE FRIENDS! | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook | Bloglovin

Advertisements

One thought on “So you want to get an Italian Visa? (Part 2)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s