A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

The Relativity of Time

We’ve all heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In a city that has been in existence for millennium, the concept of time becomes a very relative thing.

As you know, Michael was asked to go to Rome for a 6 month work assignment. His employer, being a large multinational company, outsourced the immigration assistance to another company, which is based in England. In Italy it is well known that things take time…2 hour meals, 3 hour siestas, wars that go on for decades, centuries to build a palace. You get the picture.

The process to obtain an Italian work visa and permit is of course a long and complicated one. There are multiple steps, too complicated to go into the detail here, but trust me, it’s long and complicated.

After the decision was made to send us to Italy, the application was submitted to obtain a Nulla Osta, a document that is required as part of the work visa process. We were told by the UK immigration company that that application for the Nulla Osta had been submitted at the end of January. One week before our scheduled departure from the US, we found out that in fact the application had not been submitted in January, but had just been submitted in early March, and oh by the way, that employee no longer works for the company!

We were counting on the 6 weeks of lead time from the time the application was submitted to allow us to not overstay the time allowed to be in country on just our passports, without the work visa. There is something called the Schengen Area, which was created in 1985 by the Schengen Agreement, to create a borderless region in Europe for travel. The agreement allows people who live within the region to travel unrestricted within it, but also created restrictions for travelers outside the Region. What this means for Americans traveling in the area is that you can only be in the area for a total of 90 days in a rolling calendar year on just your passport, without obtaining a visa of some kind to remain in country.

So while we’ve been enjoying our lovely stay in Rome, the clock has been ticking on the number of days we can remain in the country. The immigration company has been following the progress of the granting of the Nulla Osta, which we were told, should be issued any day now. Then we were told, it was being held up. Then we were were told it has been approved to be issued, but there is a 3 week delay in printing it at the Department of Labor. When we were telling our waiter Martin at Leon Wine Bar and Restaurant, our local Roman hangout, about our dilemma he laughed. “Only 3 weeks?! I waited one year for mine to be printed!”.

So on Saturday, we left beloved Roma and returned to sunny Arizona. Where we sit and wait…and visit friends, renew acquaintances with our cat and all our things, (I only need to go shopping in my own closet! I forgot I had so many clothes!) while we wait for the Nulla Osta to be printed so Michael can take it to the Italian Consulate in LA. After submitting the paper work in LA, we must wait in Arizona for the work visa to be issued so we can return to Roma for the remainder of the 6 month assignment.

I’ve not been known in my life for my over abundance of patience. I know, patience is a virtue. Kind of goes hand in hand with “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Michael tells me to look at it like this…we’re on a “vacation” back home from our “vacation” living abroad. This experience is teaching me patience. Maybe a 2 hour lunch and 3 hour siesta is in order today.

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One thought on “The Relativity of Time

  1. Lynn on said:

    Oh no!? Crazy, infamous, ridiculous Italian bureaucracy!!
    Would they have thrown you in jail if you stayed? Hmm..that would be an interesting post 🙂 wonder if the food is good in jail? Sorry you had to come home, but looking on the bright side, you can unpack your treasures and reload next time…

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