Going in today, I knew I had some issues with my application. My GGF's MC and naturalization were both misspelled Palmieri rather than Palmeri, my GF's BC was misspelled Palmieri, my GF's BC had Giuseppe rather than Joseph, and I have yet to find my GP's MC.
I arrived 45 minutes early. I had left my hotel near the airport early, not wanting to get stuck in traffic on the way to downtown Detroit or have trouble finding parking. No problems with either. After sitting in the waiting area for a short while, I was invited back to an office 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment.
It was all business. Courteous. Professional. No small talk.
"I need to make copies of your driver's license and your passport." I give her both. I also brought copies and she's happy to take them. I ask if she wants my children's passports too and I tell her I have copies of them. "Give me those."
"Give me your first document." I didn't know which document was first, but figured she meant my GGF's birth certificate. She saw I was confused and said, "The birth certificate for the ancestor you are claiming citizenship." I hand her my GGF's BC. She looks it over, jots some notes in pencil on the apostile attached to it. She says, "That way I won't need to look back at the form itself."
"Your great-grandfather's naturalization record." I hand it to her. She makes some comment to herself that she needs to put something on their web site so that people use the right address for the USCIS. At first I think I did something wrong. Then I realized that she was fine with what I had and was just commenting on what could be problems with documents other people produce. No comment about the misspelling and I did not say anything. I had a "positivo-negativo" letter from my great-grandfather's commune and also had a letter of "one-and-the-same" from the USCIS. But there did not seem to be any need to offer them since she did not note any concerns.
"Your great-grandparent's marriage certificate." She looks it over. It included two pages. One was a copy of the license for the marriage from Armstrong County in Pennsylvania. The other was a signed and sealed certificate from the county clerk that basically recapitulated the signed statement on the license from the priest . She puzzled over this one a while, feeling both pages until she found the seal on one of them. For the other one, she said "This is just a license." I told her that it included the signature of the priest who had married them and that this was what was copied on the page with the certificate and seal. She finally found it and seemed satisfied.
"Your grandfather's birth certificate." She seems fine with it.
"Your grandfather's marriage certificate." I tell her that despite months of searching, contacting the City of Buffalo, New York State, and just about every church in Buffalo, I cannot find a marriage certificate. I offered that I did have my grandfather's death certificate, since that included my grandmother's name on it. "Give that to me." She then says, "Maybe they never got married." I'm pretty sure they did, but of course I say nothing.
Next is my father's birth certificate and my parents' marriage certificate. No problem with those.
Then she gets to my birth certificate and my marriage certificate. "Sigh." Pause. "You know what you need to do next, don't you? You need to get these certified by the consulate in New York." She gives me a page with the contact number for the consulate and tells me the procedure. She emphasizes "Make sure you tell them that you have already come to the Detroit consulate." Later on, she said something to the effect of, "They should send those back to you." Pause. "Hopefully." Sounds like they're equally frustrated with the New York consulate.
Then my children. No problem there. They were born in Tennessee, which is under the Detroit consulate.
So then she says, "Here are some forms you need to fill out in the waiting room. Give them to the receptionist when you are done."
One is a version of the application some consulates have on their web sites, asking for all of the information on birth and marriage dates for GGPs through to me. It's just the Detroit consulate's version.
Then I start to fill out another form. While most items on the form are in both English and Italian, the heading is only in Italian. I think it's just another application form, but the Italian at the top of the page is beyond my ability to decipher. I get about half-way through and then look back at the top of the page and see a superheading in smaller font that ends in A.I.R.E.
She comes out again because I have a question about filling out a section of the A.I.R.E. Basically, it was the place on the form to fill in passport or visa information and she tells me to leave it blank. She says that once I get the birth certificate and marriage certificate approved by the NY consulate she will mail them back to me and then they will be registered with my great-grandfather's commune of Serradifalco. Then my wife can apply.
Being the pessimist, I'm assuming that someone is going to contact me and tell me they found something wrong. If so, I'll deal with it. But from everything I've read on this forum, being asked to fill out the A.I.R.E. basically means that the consulate is approving your application for recognition as an Italian citizen. Fingers crossed that's the case.
Here is a review of what I got and what was needed.
GGF BC from Italy
GGF naturalization record
GGP marriage certificate from PA (apostilled and translated)
GF BC from NY (apostilled and translated)
GP marriage certificate needed, but I did not have it (took my GF death certificate in its place and kept official "no record found" certificate from Buffalo)
F BC from NY (apostilled and translated)
P MC from NY (apostilled and translated)
My BC from NY (apostilled and translated), need to get authenticated by NY consulate
Our MC from NY (apostilled and translated), need to authenticated by NY consulate
Children's BCs from TN (apostilled and translated), she authenticated them
Spouses BC from NY (apostilled and translated, but she only needed a photocopy)
Not Needed (but obtained)
Positivo/negativo for my GGF from Italy
One-and-the-same letter for GGF from USCIS
GGF DC (apostilled and translated)
GGM BC from Italy
GM BC from Italy
M BC (apostilled)
M DC (apostilled)