As you can see from the title, we did not obtain our visa this visit. Our first visa appointment was for April 1st at 9 am at the Italian Consulate in Houston. We wanted to arrive at 830 in plenty enough time to show to show our eagerness for the appointment and respect for officer conducting the interview. Well, needless to say, we didn’t arrive that early. We arrived at the office at 8:58 am to find that the office doesn’t even open until 9. We were relieved. We waited until 9:01 am and politely as possible rang the door bell to Suite 660. A tall man opened the door then walked around the back to approach the window and ask what we needed. I announced in Italiano, “Siamo qui per un appuntamento di visto.” He asked, in Italiano: our last name, how many of us were present and if I were doing the interview in Italian. I requested, “Inglese per favore.” He said the officer only spoke Italian. I was shocked, my Italiano isn’t THAT good. It’s barely above a beginner’s level. My worry must have been written on my face. After a brief pause, he laughed and said, “Just kidding have a seat.” I joined in on the laughter. We were off to a good start. I don’t know why everyone said they would be mean and cold at the consulate, so far, they’re just as nice as the Italians in Italy.
In about 5 minutes, we were called to another window. A lady who barely glanced at us, sat down and and asked what we were here for. We said, “Elective residence visa.” She barked that we would need 4 complete sets of documents as if she had already assumed we only had one. I raised my folder up and showed her we had 4 very organized sets, ready and waiting. She said, “What are you going to do for money.” We explained we had over the required savings, verified with bank statements and a meticulously notarized letter from the bank and as icing on the cake my husband also works for a few months overseas as a government contractor. She immediately started shaking her head. I wishfully told myself, perhaps she is just looking over our paperwork in a really fast manner. She cut me off and said harshly, “You cannot work with this type of visa.” I wasn’t worried. I had already called the Hawaiian Consulate and emailed the Los Angeles consulate (because the Houston Consulate rarely answers the phone and never returned my email) and they’d both told me, although this was a special circumstance, we would still be eligible to obtain the elective residence visa since my husband would not be working in his home country and would not be working in Italy, both of which are forbidden under this visa. I responded, “Oh no! He doesn’t work in Italy. He works in Iraq.” She barked back “Doesn’t matter. You cannot have the elective residence visa, you need the mission visa.” We confusedly looked at each other while she slipped a sheet of paper under the glass. We read it briefly, and explained this does not apply to us because my husband is not considered “essential personnel to Italy,” which was a requirement listed on the paper she handed us. He does not even work in Italy he works in Iraq. She said “It does not matter, ALL contractors must get this visa. I do hundreds of these visas, not just ONE! This is the visa he must get. He’s going over there to work.” We stopped her, “No, he’s not going over there to work. We’re going over there to live, we’re not even 100% sure he will pick up another rotation.” She didn’t care. She told us to send in a special letter from the United States Sending State Office and then we could get our visa.
We tried for 2 weeks to obtain the USSSO letter, but couldn’t even get Niko’s contracting company to send over the request. With flights already purchased for June 22nd, our kids already not enrolled for the next school year, our house on the market, and a visa turn around time of up to 6 weeks. We were in bad spot. We had no choice but to try another route.