Jun 152012

Yesterday, my family visited my great-grandfather's home comune – and now our home comune – of Serradifalco, Sicily.

I had sent a letter to the municipal office – the same office I wrote to ask for birth certificates – telling them that we would be visiting and included a copy of our recognition letter from the Detroit consulate.

We walked into the "municipio" and I asked "parla Inglese" to which, not surprisingly, the answer was "no". So I said "mi chiamo" and told them my name. Well, the person obviously recognized it immediately – "oh, oh, oh" – and then there was a whole team of people happily greeting us. My Italian is very limited but I could catch a bit here and there. They had received my letter. And apparently, the fairly extensive paperwork from the Detroit consulate had only just arrived so the chief clerk had not yet reviewed it. As she was looking it over (and it was quite a lot), she was asking me if my father or grandfather was registered in the A.I.R.E. and I told them no and tried to say that my father and grandfather did not ever know that they were Italian citizens. The office was aware "conoscere" of the concept of "jure sanguinis" but it seemed like they had not had anyone get recognized that way in Serradifalco. They said it would probably be about a month before they would mail me a copy of our birth certificates and marriage certificate.

While we were there they gave me copies of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother's birth certificate – I had them already of course and did not ask for them but they kindly gave them to me anyway. I did ask if they had my great-grandfather's home address. They pulled the old book out and I got to see his actual birth record from 1886 – I had seem it on microfilm but it was cool seeing it in person.

I had told them that I had no cousins in Serradifalco. My great-grandfather and all of his brother's had emigrated to America (well, one stayed back, but he apparently had no children). Well, when they deciphered the address they told me that there was another "Palmeri" living in that same home now. Perhaps my great-grandfather and his brothers – or their parents – had given the house to a cousin since no one was living in Serradifalco anymore to take it?

While they could not get in touch with the people who were living there, they did find their son (?) who happened to live right next to the municipal building. Not only did these distant cousins (?) give us an amazing lunch of antipasto, pasta, and rabbit, but we met other cousins (?), saw the home my great-grandfather was born in, and we got to see the main church and some of the town.

It seemed like my cousins (?) were intrigued to find out if we really were cousins. They said that no one from the Palmeri family who emigrated to America ever kept in touch with Palmeris still in Serradifalco. That probably means trying to find out if we share a great-great-great-grandparent who was born around 1800. Or perhaps a great-great-great-great-grandparent who was born in the 1700s. Maybe. There are lots of Palmeris around Serradifalco. But the fact that one was living in my great-grandfather's home was intriguing.

Serradifalco, Sicily

the book that contains my great-grandfather's birth record in Serradifalco

Jun 052012

Once we get our birth certificates from Italy, we can get passports for me and my sons.

Here a link to information on the Detroit consulate's web site.

This is copied from the web site:


A passport is both a travel document as well as a form of identification. It's issuance/extension is of the responsibility of the Passport Office in the jurisdiction in which an Italian national resides. 

The passport is renewed/issued to Italian citizens who are legally resident (see Registry information) in this Consulate's area of jurisdiction. 

As of the 26th of October, the Consular offices and the Italian Police Headquarters (Questura) are issuing a new type of passport; an electronic one. 

Since regular passports issued as of the 21st of January 2003, have a validity of ten years, those who have a passport issued under these conditions (optical passport) will be able to request that the validity – even after the electronic passports have started to be issued – be valid for the ten years from the date it was released. After ten years, the passport must be replaced by a new one. 

It is important to underline the fact that the old type of passport (optical passport), even having been renewed, does not guarantee entry into the United States if one does not possess the required documentation of entry. 

Therefore, those who would like to enter the United States without needing any further immigration documentation will have to present an electronic passport. 

Please be advised that for those who wish to take advantage of the "Visa Waver Program", it is granted by the United States authorities only to those who possess: 
– an electronic passport (issued as of the 26th of October 2006);
– an optical passport issued or renewed before the 25th of October 2005;
– an optical passport with a digital photograph released by the Italian City Hall between the dates of October 26, 2005 – October 25, 2006 (Consulates have not issued optical passports with digital photographs).

A passport is issued/renewed to Italian nationals who are legally resident (see Registry information) in the jurisdiction of this Consulate.

Issuance/Renewal to residents and non-residents is dependent on this Office receiving the necessary authorization(s) from the competent Consulate and/or Police Headquarters (Questura) in Italy. 

In order to issue/renew your passport this Consulate is also required to perform the necessary procedures prescribed by current laws: identification of the applicant; verification of Italian citizenship and military draft status; acquisition of parental consent from both parents for passports issued to minors; Acquisition of Consent, from the other parent, for the issuance/renewal of passports to parents with minor children (except in cases where the applicant already has the consent of the other legitimate parent who resides in Italy and from whom he/she is not legally separated).

"Cohabiting" parents enjoy status comparable to legitimate parents, if they reside in Italy. In all other cases, the authorization of the Probate Court Judge is required. 

You are required to pay a tax of $ 51.00 (dollars) for the renewal/issuance of your passport as well as a $ 54.00 (dollars) for the new booklet. 

This Consulate has the authority to withhold your passport, or deny its issuance/renewal, under certain cases prescribed by law. Examples include when the person: is subject to a sentence restricting his personal liberty; is required to pay a fine; is subject to detention or preventive security measures; being 19 years of age, has not regularized his military draft status.

In instances where your passport has been withheld, or issuance/renewal denied, you may appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within 30 days or to the competent "Regional Administrative Tribunal".

New rules for minors under 18 years of age 

As of November 25, 2009, minors will no longer be added onto the passports of the parent (or guardian or person otherwise authorized to accompany them). 

New European regulations provide protection of the minor’s identity and security by stipulating: 
a) that all minors are required to have their own personal passport; and 
b) that their pictures be routinely updated: the validity of the passport for minors differs depending on the age (three years for children from 0 to three years; five years for minors between three and 18 years of age). 
In the case of minors who are already registered on currently valid passports, these will remain valid until the expiration of the passport itself. 


Nationals who request a new passport will have to present their photos and all required documentation by mail. An appointment (click here for appointment request form)will be made with nationals to take their fingerprints once the necessary authorization is received from the competent police headquarters (Questura) in Italy. 

All nationals are also required by law to sign a form at the Consulate containing information regarding the security of personal data maintained in this office and the Ministero dell'Interno.A copy of this form will be given to the national when their new passport is issued. 


Documents to be submitted: 

– Application form, duly completed and signed by the applicant. 
– Acquisition of Consent (Atto di Assenso) and a copy of a valid ID from the other parent, for the issuance/renewal of passports to parents with minor children (except in cases where the applicant already has the consent of the other legitimate parent who resides in Italy and from whom he/she is not legally separated). 
– Passport;
– One passport photo 1.5"x1.5" (full-face, white background)
 Copy of Alien Registration Card; (has to be VALID)
– Cashier check or money order in the amount of $ 51.00 (dollarsrenewal   fee, made payable to the Consulate of Italy;


Documents to be submitted IN ADDITION to those requested above: 

–  1 (one) photograph, 1.5"x1.5" (full-face, white background);
– the amount of $ 54.00 (dollars) cost of new booklet +  $ 51.00 (dollars) issuance fee.
In the event of a stolen or lost passport, a divorce, or for any additional information, you are kindly requested to contact this Consulate by telephone at (313) 963-8560 ext. 16-17 or by e-mail. 

Submit the following Documents if NOT Supplied Before: 
* Marriage certificate, if married after issuance of last passport;
* Death certificate of spouse, if a window after issuance of last passport;
* Birth certificate of minor if requesting issuance/renewal/registration on parent's passport;
"Estratto di nascita" if the person who has come of age applies for the first passport; 
* Duly completed A.I.R.E. form (Registry of Italian Residing Abroad) for new applicants and if address/composition of family/other have changed since last time. 

The above Certificates must be submitted in certified copies legalized with "APOSTILLE".

May 052012

I mailed my certified/legalized certificates back to the Detroit Consulate a few weeks ago. Yesterday I emailed just to ask what the next step might be and whether there was anything I need to do and whether and when I would learn about my dual citizenship. 

Response was characteristically terse: "You will receive a letter in the mail".

Apr 242012

We received authentications from the NY consulate for my birth certificate and our marriage certificate for my jure sanguinis application and for my wife's birth certificate for her jure matrimoni application.

Basically, they stamped and dated the translations and attached them to the apostilled documents.

Now waiting for my applications for citizenship to be approved. Then we will apply for my wife's citizenship.

Apr 072012

I wanted to share some details of the story of how I finally found my grandparents’ marriage certificate.

When I started my document gathering in September, I first focused on what I thought would be the “harder” documents to get, like my great-grandparents’ Italian birth certificates and their marriage certificate, my great-grandfather’s naturalization records, and the like. I left the “easy” documents to later, in part to spread out the cost.

Well, my grandparents’s marriage certificate was not easy. I’ve mentioned many of these details in other posts, but I thought I’d collect it all into a single story.

First, my grandmother is 96 years old, in a nursing home. My aunt was unable to find a copy of her marriage certificate in my grandmother’s records. Requesting the document was a challenge. In NY State, and probably many states, you cannot order a certified marriage certificate unless you’re a spouse, unless both spouses are deceased. That’s a challenge if one of the spouses is very elderly, in a nursing home. Fortunately, my aunt has power of attorney. But the state requires a copy of my grandmother’s photo ID. Well, my grandmother never drove and never had a driver’s license, and hasn’t had a passport since the 1960s (which has long since disappeared). (So despite what George Will says, there are lots of legal US citizens, many poor or elderly, who have no photo ID.) Without an ID, you can mail a utility bill, in the person’s name, and a letter from a government agency, in the person’s name. That’s a challenge if someone’s in a nursing home – they have no utility bills. The best my aunt could do was a bill from the nursing home addressed to my aunt with a RE: my grandmother and my grandmother’s retirement check addressed to my grandmother at my aunt’s address. Fortunately, this was enough for the state to release the marriage certificate.

Second, no one was certain about the date of their marriage. Sadly, my grandmother could not help. We were able to narrow it down based on when my aunt and father were born, and based on a comment I remembered that my parents could have been married in the 25 year of my grandparent’s marriage. What this means is that the request only included a 3-year search range, not an exact marriage date. i suppose that’s an invitation for a “no record found” since searching over years requires some diligence.

My aunt sends the request off to the City of Buffalo. And we get “no record found”.

That’s odd since we knew that both my grandmother and grandfather lived in Buffalo. And it’s almost inconceivable that they would have gotten married anywhere but one of the Italian Roman Catholic churches on the West Side of Buffalo.

So we try three tacks.

First, my aunt mails off a request to NY State. We originally requested through Buffalo because it’s $10 rather than $30, and a lot quicker.

Second, I send letters and emails off to just about every city and town clerk around Buffalo, on the off chance that they might have gotten married elsewhere.

Third, I send letters and emails off to just about every Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo and the neighboring communities. We knew the church that my father was baptized in and that my grandfather was baptized in. And my grandmother’s cousin knew the church that my grandmother was active in as a young adult.

None of the towns and none of the churches had any record of my grandparent’s marriage.

So now I broaden the search even further. I try Niagara Falls. Who knows, maybe they wanted to have a reception in the Falls and got marriage in a church in the Falls – at that time, there was a large Italian community there as well as Buffalo. Nothing from them.

I’m stumped. I ask my dad, my aunt, and cousins again. Everyone mentions the churches we already tried. One of the churches suggests that we try to contact the church that my grandmother was baptized in since that church’s records might note where and when my grandmother was married, even if it wasn’t in that church. Well, my grandmother was born and baptized in Sicily, so that does not seem like an easy option. I do email my grandfather’s baptismal church, but they have no record.

I email one of my cousins who was a bit of a family historian before I took over doing genealogy. He said, you know, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was your great-grandparent’s church – my GM’s church. Well, that church closed down years and years ago. I ask my dad. He says, sure, that was my mom’s church; didn’t I tell you that. He didn’t. But I’m happy to have a new lead.

So I email a few churches and ask if they know if any church might have a record for NBVM. One does. I email that church. They email me that they found the record – I receive that email two hours after my visit to the Detroit consulate. They mail me my grandparent’s marriage record.

Now I send a copy of that back to the City of Buffalo, along with a copy of their certified “no record found” they had sent my aunt. A couple weeks later, I get a certified copy of their marriage certificate. And a few days after that, my aunt gets their marriage record from New York.

I guess one irony is that if I had just mailed NY months ago, and waited, and waited, and waited, I would have gotten their marriage certificate anyway (since we did). But of course, when we’re going through this process, you get a heightened level of impatience. And especially when I knew I had my March consulate meeting, I was working hard to try to find their marriage certificate, my only missing piece.

Another irony is that Detroit ended up not requiring my grandparent’s marriage certificate – accepting the “no record found” (along with my grandfather’s death certificate) as sufficient.

Apr 052012

After I received the marriage certificate from the church, I sent back the "no record found" to the City of Buffalo (along with a copy of the church's certificate).

Today they sent me the certificate. I guess now they actually searched a bit harder.

Mar 222012

I contacted the Nashville Police Department and they said that they can take official fingerprints for use by the states and the FBI for background checks.

We need to go to: 200 James Robertson Pkwy at the Criminal Justice Center

They have "standard cards supplied by the FBI for fingerprint submissions that are used for regular background checks." 

They said, "Yes, we can do it. The standard fee is $9 for the first set and $1 for each additional set of prints if needed. We are open Mon-Fri from 7AM to 6PM. Please make sure to bring the form with you."

Mar 222012

I called the Records Division with the Indiana State Police (317-232-8266).

We need to fill out and download form 8053 (http://www.in.gov/ai/appfiles/isp-lch//LCHrequest.pdf).

We need to obtain a set of finger prints.

And mail to:

Indiana State Police
100 North Senate Avenue
Room 301
Indianapolis, IN 46204

We need to include a $10 fee. And we need to specify that this is for "immigration/citizenship" and that it needs to be "certified".

They also gave me a phone number for obtaining finger prints: 1-877-472-6917 (L-1 Identity Solutions).

Here's the process:

Indiana requires electronic finger prints. However, electronic finger prints cannot cross state borders. So we need to get ink finger prints on hard cards and send them to be registered with L-1. Basically, they take the hard cards, digitize them, and send them along to the Indiana State Police.

Before sending them, we need to register with L-1, pay, and print out the confirmation to include with the prints.

This is the web site: http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=in

She said not to put a zip code and to select "pay for ink card submission" where she will fill in her information, be prompted to pay, and get a confirmation.

I also found this web site: http://www.in.gov/isp/files/FAQ_isp_inkless.pdf

Getting started: 

1) You have a need for a fingerprint based criminal history check. 

2) Schedule an appointment online at http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=in or by calling 1-877-472-6917. 

3) You will need to select the agency or reason you need fingerprinted. If you need an Indiana only fingerprint based criminal history check select the following reason: Criminal Record Review Challenge. 

4) You will choose a location to be fingerprinted. 

5) Payment can be made electronically by credit card or debit card at time of scheduling. You can also pay at the fingerprinting service center by cashier’s check or money order. 

Mar 222012

I found this web site for obtaining criminal records from NY State – http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/ojis/recordreview.htm

I emailed RecordReview@dcjs.ny.gov:

I am a US citizen by birth and am in the process of finalizing my dual Italian citizenship.

My wife is eligible for Italian dual citizenship by marriage. As part of her application, she needs to obtain "police clearance or certificate of criminal records issued by the central authority of each state of which the applicant has been a resident since the age of 14". She was born in NY and lived in NY until she finished college. My wife was never accused, charged, or convicted of any crime, so we expect it to come back clear.

One complication is that the police clearance / certificate of criminal records must be suitable for an apostille by the Secretary of State of NY. So it needs to be signed and certified. I understand from others who have applied for Italian citizenship by marriage that the criminal record someone might get by applying by the usual methods is not suitable for an apostille and hence is not acceptable by the Italian consulate for citizenship applications.

What is the process for obtaining a signed and certified police clearance / certificate of criminal records suitable for apostille from NY State?

Update 22 Mar 2012

Here is their response:

"… we will have to do is send you out our cardscan packet in the mail. So we will just need a mailing address. once you receive the packet you will fill out the form and take the finger print card to a local police station to get finger printed on. Once all that is completed you will mail to the address on the form. Once we receive it will process it and it will take us 7-10 business days to process and we will get the background check out to you with the sealed and notarized letter."

Mar 202012

Here is my grandparents marriage certificate from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were married 10 Jun 1939. Witnesses were John Palmeri, probably one of my grandfather's Palmeri cousins, and Mrs. J. D'Arata, who I don't know.

my grandparents' marriage certificate from NBVM Church in Buffalo

interior of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where my grandparents were married

Mar 192012

I need to get my birth certificate and marriage certificate from NY State authenticated by the Italian consulate in NY City in order to finalize recognition of Italian citizenship for me and my two boys. I emailed them today asking for details about the process (cittadinanza.newyork@esteri.it).

I had previously posted information I had gotten from the discussion boards but I wanted to confirm that I had the correct process.

Mar 192012

Here are some pictures from my trip to the Detroit consulate. The consulate is in the Buhl building in downtown Detroit on the 18th floor. An old building. A fairly standard office. But a great experience.

Buhl Building

outside the Buhl Building

on the 18th floor

the hallway to the consulate

Consolato D'Italiano

Mar 152012

Desperate to find any possible leads on my grandparents' marriage, I emailed one of my cousins asking if he might have any idea where it could have taken place. He told me that my grandmother's parents' church was Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the west side of Buffalo. That church is closed and I would have never found it searching as I have. I emailed another church and they told me that the records for Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary are now held at Our Lady of Hope church in Buffalo. I emailed them. We'll see if they find anything. Fingers crossed that the Italian tradition was to get married in the wife's church.

Update 19 Mar 2012

Today I received an email from Our Lady of Hope Church: "I found the marriage in our books and mailed out the certificate to you last week, probably on Thursday"

Mar 102012

Okay, so no record was found in the City of Buffalo for my grandparents marriage abt 1939. I assumed it must have been in Buffalo since that's where they had lived their entire lives. But apparently not. We'll see if my aunt can get a copy of their marriage certificate from NY State. In the meanwhile, I'll email and write the town clerks around Buffalo to see if any others can track down a marriage certificate for me.

At least "no record found" is official (certified, with a raised seal). Perhaps the Detroit consulate will be okay with this. It's better than nothing I suppose.

Update 12 Mar 2012

Other cities and towns who have checked their records:

Depew – NO
Lackawanna – NO
Hamburg – NO