Oldest Son is spending next semester in Italy and on Friday he came home so that we could work on logistics. He's in a well established program that helps with details like housing and a student visa to Italy. I'm not sure that this program makes it easier or not since we had to download a huge PDF that explained in extenuating detail the process of obtaining a visa with all of its "supporting documentation".
He was preparing to get the visa on his own since his passport needed renewing and that was expected to take several weeks but we were surprised to see the passport show up on Friday. He showed up Friday night right behind it and Saturday was spent trying to figure out the arcane rules for obtaining the visa since (surprise!) all the paper work has to be in on Tuesday. My God, how I love the twitter generation.
First we had decided which Italian consulate we belonged to. Since Italy is really a set of loosely connected regions, it must assume that the rest of the world is the same way and so one can't just pick any consulate to get a visa from. They do it by geography and since we are close to Philadelphia, we are to use that consulate to get the student visa. This is good, because if we were under the LA or Washington DC consulate, we would have been unable to submit our paper work to the special visa process sponsored by his program. Instead, we would be out on our own and would have to make an appointment at the consulate and apply in person.
Next, there was a 4 page form in Italian (with subtitles) that was to be filled out out MAKING NO MISTAKES. The instructions stated that if you made a mistake you had to start over. Apparently the Italians do not like mistakes. It was four pages of hell. The boxes were to small to actually print the required information and some of it just didn't make any sense. It took him only three forms to complete it with page number three inexplicably blank.
A passport photo was to be stapled to the 4 page form from hell UNLESS you lived in San Fransisco or Miami. Then you were to glue the picture to form. I'm not making this up.
And so it went like that all Saturday morning. Do this only IF you live here or here. After I while I was looking for Allen Funt and candid camera.
One of the many "supporting documents" was to be a letter from my bank. The Italian government wanted my bank to write them a letter stating that I had a least $5,000 in the bank. Later I was thinking how bold this was since no one bothered to check to see if my great-grandparents had a dime on them when they showed up here FROM Italy. Now they want to know if I have enough money to let my son back in for 6 months.
It just doesn't seem to make sense, does it?