Orange is my favorite color

Well today was interesting – I had my appointment this morning at the San Francisco Italian Consulate to apply for my citizenship. I used Google Maps street view to recognize the building before my brother, dad and I drove up to San Francisco but still managed to drive by it not paying attention. The building is nice looking with the active entrance through a side door into a small 15×15′ room with three service windows. Most of the signage referred to visas so I stood in line and told the person I was there for a citizenship appointment and a few minutes later a woman came out to bring us in.

Things started off on the wrong foot when the woman, who turned out to be Anna Maria Stone, head of citizenship services at the consulate, asked if I had an appointment for three people or one. While the plan was always to have my brother, dad and I apply simultaneously, I had made the appointment well over a year ago and couldn’t precisely remember. I did recall sending an email about a week ago confirming the three of us were coming but I wasn’t sure. I started sweating, worried that my brother flew out from Florida for nothing and my dad would have to turn around to drive four hours home. Thankfully we waited a few minutes and she was able to see the three of us in a makeshift meeting room in a hallway with a large table and three chairs borrowed from the main office area of the consulate.

Here’s where believing what you read on the Internet gets you into trouble. We pulled out our driver’s licenses to start the process for recording in the visitor’s logbook. My understanding was that if you were applying as a family you could do so together even if not everyone was a resident of that consulate’s jurisdiction. This is not true. When my brother pushed his Florida driver’s license across the table we were told that he could absolutely not apply in San Francisco making his flight to the west coast an expensive exercise in futility. The good news is that he can use our future copies of our Certificates of Recognition with the paperwork I already prepared and apply in Miami. It should be a very quick application.

Anna Maria started with my father since he is one generation up the ladder. Via email, she had told me to come prepared with the documentation in the following order:

  1. Application (For San Francisco)
  2. Form 2A (For San Francisco)
  3. Form 2B (For San Francisco) – Note that this form is about the American born ascendant. Since my GGF was the Italian and my GF was the first American, this form should be filled out for my GF. We accidentally filled it out for our GGF not reading quite carefully enough.
  4. Birth/marriage/death/divorce/naturalization paperwork ordered chronologically working from Italian citizen down to the applicant. Translations as needed should be with each document.

She started by reviewing the application, ensuring she could read it and that all of the dates were in proper European format. Then I handed her each document one at a time to confirm we had everything. She was very pleased that we came prepared and while the appointment had started off rocky with my mistakes, Anna Maria was very nice and we had a nice time talking.

Some news that other people will be interested in! At the moment they estimate it will take 3 years to get recognition of citizenship back from Italy. An application like ours with two people and three generations takes about a half day of focused effort putting all of the paperwork together to submit to Italy. The good news is that the consul is taking the backlog seriously and they have hired someone specifically to help work through the queue! This just happened so we’ll have to wait and see for the results but it sounds like a great development to me and probably even better news for people who have been waiting for years.

In hindsight, part of the difficulty of applying for citizenship is that the paperwork required is well documented by the various consulates and community web sites but there isn’t that much material available on the actual appointment procedure and policies. I felt like it was a fine line between asking questions and being a pain in the ass but making assumptions clearly cost us. Hopefully this post will at least give others some insight and convince them to err on the side of asking one too many questions rather than one too few.


  1. Bryan Re said:

    on September 8, 2008 at 5:42 am

    This is great information and I’ll let you know how Houston differs from San Francisco…maybe you can make mention to help a few fellow dual-italians out… I’ve submitted my pre-application and waiting for a response from Houston…and direction to move forward with them. Currently, there is a 60 day wait per the auto-response email. But I got a seperate reply from them telling me to be patient since the matter is “delicate and complex”.

    Thanks again for sharing your scenario as I will have family flying in from LA and North Carolina when that time comes.

    Bryan Re
    Houston, Texas

  2. Erin said:

    on October 1, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I just found out about Jure Sanguinis a few days ago. Luckily, due to family research, all of the documents are already in my family’s posession.

    I do have one question… if you have apostilles for the Italian side, do you still need to get them translated into Italian? From the things I have been reading, it isn’t very clear. Since I’m in Washington, I will have to deal with the SF office as well.

    I also really appreciate that you listed costs and time, so I at least know what to expect, even if I’m impatient.

  3. brian said:

    on October 1, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    @Erin: apostilles never require a translation AFAIK; they are an international certification that all Hague countries agree to accept.

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