Saturday, November 10, 2007

Illegal Aliens

I know that in the U.S. Illegal immigration is a hot topic of conversation. The media in the US, leads us to believe that we are the only country plagued by this dilemma. Everyone wants to come to the US, and they try to do it illegally.

Do you know any illegal immigrants? Have you asked them why they are illegal? I am currently an illegal alien residing in Italy.

I have a different perspective on illegal immigration, now that I have witnessed first hand the difficulty of “immigrating” to another country, albeit mine is temporary. The initial Visa process to come to Italy, was intimidating and overwhelming. As US citizens, we can visit European countries (and maybe others but this is the limit of my knowledge) for 3 months as tourists without going through the Visa process. Since I was planning to be here longer, I had to obtain a Visa. In order to do that, first of all, you must determine which Visa is appropriate, and what you are eligible for. For me, there were 2 that I thought might work. The first was a Student Visa. Since I was going to language school, it seemed an obvious and appropriate choice. In researching this, I determined that I was ineligible, because taking language education solely is not cause for a Student Visa. I suspect that because there are no admission requirements, or graduation fulfilment, it would be too easy to apply for this type of Visa, and use it indefinitely.

My second source was the Elective Resident Visa, which indicates that I am choosing to live in Italy, but in no way will become a “ward” of the country. This Visa does not allow me to work, and to obtain it, I must prove a source of income, as well as proof of medical insurance which will cover me in a foreign country. I used documents from my investments to show my source of income. Italy has some type of formula for calculating living expenses as a minimum level per month, and you must show that you have at least that much money. Getting “proof of insurance” was difficult. I am certain not many people ask this of Progressive, so getting the right wording in a document took longer than most of the things I had to do to come to Italy (including selling my house!).

Once I had the application completed, and the appropriate documents (and of course I had to have extra passport photos), I had to physically fly to Detroit, Michigan to the Italian Embassy there and present the documents. There are several Italian embassies in the US, and the states are designated as to which one they must use. For Tennessee, the Michigan embassy is designated. Once I got there, I was told that I also must show an airline ticket for my departure and return. I had not done this for a couple of reasons: 1. I did not know if my Visa would be granted 2. If it was granted, I did not know for what start date, 3. You can only make flight reservations for a round trip ticket for a certain period of time. I was told I must purchase the ticket and fax it back to them.

I went back to Tennessee and made the reservation and faxed the document to them. I went to Detroit in early November, as I was told it could take up to 90 days to get the Visa, and I wanted to depart in early March at the latest. In the meantime, I had to sell all my “stuff”, get some things to storage, vacate my house, etc. During that time, my son was admitted to the hospital (early January) and for 10 days, I was consumed with him and being at the hospital in Washington D.C. When I returned in mid-January, still no passport, so I telephoned them to inquire. At that time, they told me they needed proof of where I was planning to live in Italy. I telephoned my landlord and requested a copy of the “lease” and faxed it to them. I received by Visa on February 2 dated 2-15, but had a ticket to leave on February 28.

Once I arrived in Italy, I found that I needed to obtain a Permesso di Sogornio. I want go into details about this, because I have covered it in earlier blogs, but suffice it to say, I completed the application process, but never received the document.

As of today, November 1, 2007. I am an illegal alien living in Italy. I never received my Permesso di Sogiorno, and my Visa expires today. The reason I am writing about this is because, I feel pretty strongly, and have evidence that the issue in the US is even worse than what I have experienced in Italy.

Try this: Got to this web site: Let’s pretend you have a friend (not a family member who is from a non-European country. Try to figure out what they need to visit the U.S. And if they decide to immigrate, what they need. I think it is virtually impossible. Let’s just all agree that we want immigrants to enter the U.S. legally.....then, we have to figure out some non bureaucratic way to make it a reality. I am sure that 200 years ago, this kind of red tape did not exist for our ancestors.

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