If you are staying in Italy for longer than 90 days one of your biggest concerns before studying abroad is making sure that you can legally stay in Italy.
The Italian government requires two types of documentation for students that are studying abroad in Italy for longer than 90 days.
Your first form of documentation is your visa.
If you refer to my blog post Paperwork, Paperwork…Oh, My!, you can see a list of all the different types of paperwork that you will need to get your Italian visa.
The first step of applying for your visa is to make an appointment with either the Italian Embassy or Consulate district that your school is in, or make an appointment with the Italian Embassy or Consulate where your home is. Personally, I could have either made an appointment with the Italian Embassy in DC or the Italian Consulate in NY. I highly recommend making an appointment at least 2 months in advance of when you would like to go because appointments fill up very fast and you won’t be allowed to study in the country if you don’t have your visa.
Once you make an appointment, make sure that your passport has not expired and will expire within over six months of when you are going to leave Italy.
Third, make sure that you fill out the Visa application correctly and thoroughly. (I also recommend making extra copies for yourself.) Your school should give you details on how to correctly fill out the form for your specific school and study abroad program.
After you fill out the application, you should put all of your paperwork together WITH COPIES. I suggest going on the website of the specific Italian Embassy or Consulate that you are visiting because each individual one has specific requirements. The Italian Consulate in NY needed me to provide more financial information that the Italian DC Embassy. You also need to bring a current passport like photo with you for your visa.
Finally, MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE MONEY. When I was at the consulate, I saw numerous people turned away from getting their visa because they forgot the money. Check the prices on Italian student visas before your appointment.
The embassy or consulate should send you your passport with your visa inside and the paperwork that they took and stamped within the following month.
You are allowed to make an appointment for your visa three months before you are entering the country.
Check your local embassy or consulate for more information on your specific criteria.
Your second form of documentation is your Permesso di Soggiorno.
If you refer to my blog post Paperwork, Paperwork…Oh, My!, you can see a list of all the different types of paperwork that you will need to get your Permesso di Soggiorno.
Permesso di Soggiorno loosely translates to meaning “permission to stay.” The Italians require this form of documentation on top of the Italian visa that you already received.
Within 10 days of arriving in Italy, you are required to present yourself to a post office with the required paperwork. Before you go to the post office you need two things.
First, you need to fill out the application in its entirety. Your school should provide the documentation and an explanation on what to fill out. A lot of the extra paperwork you will already have made copies of from your visa. You will also need a passport like photo for your Permesso di Soggiorno.
Once you have filled out the paperwork, you have to go to a “Tabacchi,” which is a small convenience store that can be found all over Rome with a blue “T” outside of the store. Inside you will ask for a “marco da ballo,” which is a stamp that you have to put on a part of your documentation. The “marco da ballo” should cost you 1 or 2€.
You then present the documentation at a post office. You fill out a little more paperwork. You may have to pay for this application as well. The prices for Permesso di Soggiornos are currently fluctuating with new laws so make sure that you know what you are paying ahead of time (I was lucky enough to not have to pay anything.).
Your Permesso di Soggiorno will be documented and you will be given a date and time to go to the Italian Immigration Office. If you go to the end of the A line on the Metro and take a bus, it will take you right to the Immigration Office.
At the Immigration Office, you will be required to wait outside until your appointment, you will then go through security and then there are two parts of the Immigration Office process.
The Immigration Office process can be very long so I suggest you bring a good book along with you. Check out this book on easy Italian phrases to help you with the language.
First, you meet one-on-one with an Immigration Officer, they ask basic questions, review your paperwork, and prepare your file for fingerprinting.
You then have to wait some more and in the second part of the process you are fingerprinted to legally stay in Italy.
MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR RECEIPT!
At the Immigration Office they will tell you where and when to pick up your Permesso di Soggiorno ID, but until then your receipt is proof that you have gone through the application process.
I applied for my Permesso di Soggiorno in early September, I had my Immigration Office processing in the middle of September, and I received my ID at the beginning of December.
After all of the applications, you are going to want to relax a little. So check out this book on Italian wines for beginners.
While this may seem like a very long and annoying process, which it is, these two documentations must be completed for students to stay in Italy for longer than 90 days. Trust me when I say, the process is completely worth it.