Nan's Extended Stay Visa Story

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January 2005

Perhaps the solution for obtaining a visa for residenza elettiva is to first move within the jurisdiction of the Italian Consulate in Miami.

After collecting all the documentation outlined on the web site -- emailing them regularly with specific questions, to which they always responded promptly -- I went to Miami about six weeks before my departure (you may apply anytime within the 90 days prior).

When I walked into the Consulate office in Coral Gables (open to the public only from 9 C 12p), there were two people ahead of me. I waited perhaps 5 minutes to reach the sportello, where I met a very patient, kind Signore Miccolis. Are you the one whos been writing all the e-mails? S, I said, that would be me. Americans.

All I needed were the documents specifically outlined on the site itself:

* my visa application (printed from the PDF downloaded from their web site)
* my passport
* a passport photo
* my drivers license
* my apartment rental agreement in Venezia
* a medical certificate saying I wasnt dying or contagious
* the results of my background check (no arrest warrants...very comforting)
* evidence of financial support (a letter from my bank stating funds available to me that they knew about) that comfortably exceeded the requirements outlined on the site itself
* a FedEx envelope, addressed to me, from me
* $64.30 in cash

(I also had a fabulous letter written in my own fabulous Italian...completely unnecessary. I left a copy of Italy: Instructions for Use, but only as a personal offering...officially, it was insignificant.)

As I submitted my paperwork, Signore Miccolis asked if I wanted to leave for Italy sooner, as Id have the visa within a week. Prego? I had written earlier asking how long is usually took to issue a visa once the application had been submitted, knowing I was due back in Venice presto and panicking about having to hand over my passport. To my astonishment, I was told it normally took 4 to 7 days, and here it was being confirmed again.

He wasnt kidding. Five business days later my self-addressed FedEx envelope arrived, with my beautiful, official visa pasted inside, along with instructions on how to sign up for health insurance and an admonition to head for the questura within 8 days of arrival. I wrote to the Consulate thanking them for their patience and their assistance; Sig. Miccolis wished me a buon viaggio and told me to tell Venezia hello.

Boy, will I.

As far as elective residence is concerned, its my personal, unofficial conclusion that the documentation requested is to prove 1) you wont become a ward of the state, 2) youre not intending to take work from Italians, 3) youre not a criminal, and 4) youre not going to bankrupt the health system by seeking free care or spreading illness among the general population. After that, se ne frega nulla nessuno. Im sure work visas are much more involved, and Ill certainly be exploring that while Im there, but from now on, my first source will be the Consulate, and the next, expatsinitaly...they complement each other perfectly!

This page was written by Nan McElroy, a writer who splits her time between Venice and the U.S.

Nan has written a fabulous book called Italy: Instructions for Use.

You can order a copy at the website


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