Today I had to renew my permesso once again, and while doing so met up with a friend who was also renewing it, we began to discuss all our hell stories of permessos and visas. I realized after this conversation that most people may not know what they are getting themselves into, so I thought I should share the process.
Step 1: Visa. Congrats you have been accepted to come to Italy woohoo! Well, now we have to go get you a Visa. Student Visas are free so that’s great; however the cash will have to come out later… But for now get yourself some documents. I am not sure the exact list, and I have heard different consulates require different things. But I do know you need a passport, health insurance and a letter proving so, bank statement with something like at least 8000$ (again not sure specifics), proof of being accepted into the school, and a flight. Now that you have those, make at least 5 copies (no I am not joking) and make sure all are signed in blue. So now get an appointment online with your nearest Consulate.
A side note about Consulates: They will all make you cry and you will probably not get your visa the first time. In Boston I went back three times, because they forgot to tell me I needed certain documents, and another common issue was no one ever had enough copies. In New York, I have heard, the receptionist is a mean lady, so there will probably have to be some arguing with her at some point. Then in LA I have heard, the woman working there has occasionally yelled at people asking why they need to go all the way to Italy to study, and why can’t they just stay in their own country.
Please if anyone has any more stories, do tell! I love them.
Step 2: Come to Italy! Welcome, this will probably stress you all out, they are not even going to stamp your passport, oh and if you are American hold up your passport they will probably wave you threw. Don’t worry that is normal. There is also no customs, don’t freak out.
Step 3: Applying for a Permesso. Usually your school will set it up for you the first time, so that is extremely helpful. Again you will need copies of everything, passport, now including your visa, letter of acceptance, proof of enrollment, bank statement, photos and now health insurance again. If you have wonderful insurance that truly does cover internationally, you won’t need to buy new one. If it does not, or it will reimburse, but not cover immediately, you have to buy Italian insurance. Your school will probably help you out this first time with that, but it will cost 150-250E depending. You get to put all that information in an envelope and send it off through the school this time. Then you will get an appointment.
Step 4: A few months later it will be appointment time! Bring copies of everything you used for the envelope, because it often gets lost. You will also have to bring in a receipt which will be given to you as soon as the envelope is processed. And do not forget 4 photos which can be taken at vending machines scattered through the cities. First time your school will bring you most likely and it will be easy breezy. They will take your fingerprints as well, just so you know. Then you are done!
Step 5: JUST KIDDING! A few more months after that you can actually pick up your permesso, at the local questura. You need to find the place, check that your name is outside the door, saying your permesso is ready. Bring your passport, copies of your passport and visa (just in case) your receipt for the envelope, and another ID just in case. Then Tah Dah! You now hold a useless piece of identification, which you will probably never be asked for, but if you do and you don’t have it you will be screwed.
Then in just a few more months you will once again have to renew it….