I am waiting for my fourth permesso di soggiorno. Each year the processing time gets longer and longer. Well, at least it has been for many expats in Umbria going through the Perugia office. My first year took three and a half months. Second year was four months. Third year was four and a half months. And this year already I’m closing in on five months. I have friends who waited six months. Keep in mind the permesso has a year’s validity. Sure you can tote around the post office receipt and application code, which is “supposed” to be a valid holdover until your new card arrives. But depending on where you are in Italy, not having the card can cause all sorts of mischief. For example, for your tessera sanitaria, national healthcare coverage, you may be required to keep going back to the ASL office to get an extension. Again, it depends on who you’re dealing with. It is my understanding that all that is required is your application receipt.
And so, I give myself the advice that I dole out so often in all matters of Italian bureaucracy…
Be prepared to wait, and wait…
I was having lunch just a week ago with fellow American expats, and I confirmed that they, too, were waiting longer than normal. I thought this was a country wide problem, but I’m told other regions have much speedier processing times. Normal timing is “supposed” to be two and a half months. I thought I was being proactive by getting way out in front of the renewal by a couple of months. That strategy isn’t working.
The other puzzling matter is that of the carta di soggiorno, which is a permanent stay permit that you are “supposed” to be able to get after living in Italy for five full years. Rumor has it that if your working work with the region of Perugia, they aren’t giving these out. Instead they insist on a yearly renewal of the basic permesso di soggiorno.
Supposedly other regions issue them without a problem. Frankly, I don’t know, and I plan to do more research, which I will share with you when I have a better understanding.
Soon I will be moving my residency to Treviso, and already I’m finding the Comune incredibly helpful and buttoned up. Hopefully I’ll find that everything buzzes along with greater precision and speed. Time will tell.
Umbria is a wonderful place to live. My experiences with the people have been fantastic, and the police at the questura always have been wonderful. But, I think the backend bureaucracy is unduly burdened for some reason. Perhaps it’s government cutbacks, or perhaps they are buried with managing the stay permits for all of the immigrants flooding into the country from North Africa.
If you’re moving to another region of Italy I urge you to
Research your particular area to see if you can get an idea of permesso processing times and the types of stay permits they’re willing to issue (and why).
Then, you can manage your expectations accordingly. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll find getting the straight story on the whole permesso di soggiorno process frustratingly elusive. I think this is because it is administered with great inconsistency.
These are my personal experiences and they should not serve as a substitute for your own inquiries with the proper Italian agencies regarding their regulations.