Immigration: Getting An Italian Greencard For Americans Or The US Greencard For Italians

I have a Greencard for Italy and my Italian husband has a Greencard for the United States. Neither process is fun but it’s not as terrible as it sounds with a little planning.

Getting An Italian Spouse Visa For An American And The Carta Di Soggiorno (Greencard)

When you marry an Italian in the United States you cannot return to Italy until you register the marriage with the Italian consulate. This entire process took us 2 weeks. I did mine at the San Francisco Italian consulate. Every state has their own regulations (Utah doesn’t have an Italian consulate so we have to go to San Fran). Make sure you check with your state and the consulate you are required to use FIRST). List Of Italian Consulates USA

Apply for Spouse Visa For Italy 

  1. Get Certified Copy of Marriage Certificate
  2. Have county clerk certify the signature
  3. Request an “apostille” from the secretary of state-Lieutenant Governor’s Office
  4. Obtain Translation Of All Documents Into Italian by a certified translator (the consulate you use will have a list)
  5. Attach copy of Husband’s/Wife’s Passport (whoever is Italian)
  6. 3 Passport photos
  7. Passport of the person asking for the visa (they take your passport and then return it with your spouse visa inside).
  8. Fill out Visa application forms (3) you can find them here , here, and here, from the consulate website online and attach them.
  9. Deliver in person to Consulate General and wait.

Greencard: When you arrive to Italy you have to apply for your Carta Di Soggiorno (your greencard) right away. You’ll need all of these documents again so keep ahold of them. For more on your Carta Di Soggiorno visit the Foreign Nationals Page.


Applying For A Greencard To The United States For Your Italian Spouse

The United States claims to be so “family oriented” but I reevaluated that whole thing after the greencard process. I get it, they don’t want people getting married just for a greencard, fine, but the process is such a pain in the ass that it can keep REAL families apart. In fact, the first time we applied we were denied. I had to get one of my state reps involved because the insane woman that worked at immigration tried to tell me that I needed to return to the US for A YEAR WITHOUT MY HUSBAND before applying. My husband is annoying but he’s also my best friend and I would leave him for a year NEVER.  Over my dead body, crazy bitch. But seriously, this woman was insane, read about our immigration experience. La Migra, and  La Migra Part 2

What EXACTLY had to be done? For the US Immigration Website On Immediate Relatives. If you’re currently IN Italy but you want to import your Italian spouse to the US you also need this link for Consular Processing

Well, first we had to file a I-130 form. Along with it we had to provide:

  • Wedding photos
  • A translated marriage certificate (ours was already in English though…so yay).
  • His Birth certificate (translated)
  • Letters from friends saying we are really married and that he isn’t paying me to marry him. Our friend wrote a letter talking about the first time she met Francesco, meeting his family, and coming to both of our weddings.
  • We also each had to give passport photos
  • Something showing we share a residence, share bills and money (a mutual bank account) (anything in Italian must be translated to English).
  • Photo copies of both of our passports
  • It cost us 300 euro.

Then we had to wait. When we finally heard we passed round one we were excited! Hooray! They gave us an interview date at the United States Embassy in Naples (everyone must go through the embassy in Naples for greencards) and then prepared for a TWO DAY immigration process that included a medical examination the first day, x-rays, STD check, and shots, and on the second day an interview with the immigration officer. For these appointments we needed:

  • A receipt that our I-130 was approved (they email you everything). 
  • Medical records (translated into English) to show that he’s not diseased.
  • Police records (translated into English) to show he’s not a pedophile, murderer, or otherwise criminally insane persons. Oh, it also asks if he’s a drug mule. Because, you know, if he were he would honestly check, “yes.”
  • Marriage records to show we really did spend 10,000 bucks on not one but TWO weddings. Your welcome economy of America and Italy.
  • form of support with the past three years of tax information showing that you make over 125% of the poverty line. I do not because I am a writer. So my dad, who was also once an immigrant and is sympathetic to how much it sucks, had to step up and co-sponsor Francesco. This took us the longest. Honestly, start preparing this WAY in advance along with collecting all of the necessary proof like tax records, etc.
  • Then I had to show proof that I am domiciled in the US. Don’t know what that means? Neither did I. Apparently it’s a fancy way of saying, “I am still American even if I live in Italy.” This is where we failed the first time. So, on the second round we added: My bank information (using a US bank account while you live in Italy and paying at least one or two bills helps keep you domiciled), a letter from my congressman saying that I am domiciled (they will write it for you, just explain your case and beg for help). You can also use residence if you still own property in the US, tax receipts to show you paid taxes in the US (I included my W2’s and proof that I filed and paid taxes that year), PLUS I added a signed letter stating that I was in Italy temporarily to study and then to get to know my husband’s family but that I intended to return permanently to the US.

Here is the files we were given to prepare AFTER our I-130 was approved. So this was for our SECOND round: INSTRUCTIONS FOR IMMIGRANTpkt3




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41 thoughts on “Immigration: Getting An Italian Greencard For Americans Or The US Greencard For Italians

  1. Awww… I wish this was an actual post!! My boyfriend (Italian) and I (American) are planning on moving to the U.S. in September after we graduate from Uni (we both study at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice). We’ve been together for 2 years and don’t want to have to get married for either of us to stay in/move to the other’s country-plus we are both very poor at the moment- the whole starving student thing. I could really use some insight/help!

  2. Pingback: Frequently Asked Questions: Studying, Moving, Working, Loving In Florence, Italy | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  3. I have heard from multiple sources that it isn’t necessary, as a non-eu spouse of your eu spouse, to get a long-term visa in order to enter the country they are in, and reunite… i.e. you can enter the eu country as a ‘tourist’ and then apply for your carta. Do you have any opinions on this?

    • If you marry outside of Italy the non eu citizen cannot enter back into the country before getting a spousal visa. Then you can change it to a carta once in the country. Maybe it’s possible you can apply for a carta on a tourist visa if you marry in Italy.

      • Sooo I’m not sure if they changed the way things work, but the consulate just told me that I can indeed go on a ‘tourist’ visa and then apply for a permit for family reasons in Italy… crazy

      • Hmm, weird. Yes, you can but not if you’ve recently married an Italian citizen outside of Italy. At least, as of two years ago you’re not allowed back in the country without a spousal visa. Did you just get married in the US to an Italian? What is your situation specifically babe?

      • My recent hubby is Bulgarian residing in Italy, so I’m thinking it’s because of that we don’t have to go through the long visa process (that I’ve heard from you and a couple others).

    • This is correct according to Italian immigration lawyers I spoke to recently before getting my permesso. You can enter as a tourist – US visa waiver – and apply in Italy for the permesso. Even if you run out of time on the visa waiver for the process taking too long or having spent time in the Shengen area before entering Italy to stay, once you have the receipt that your permesso is in progress, you can stay in Italy. You can’t travel within Shengen though until you have the permesso.

      • I recently married an Italian in the US and I am know trying to convert my old Permesso to the EC Residence Permit (which replaced the Carta). I am receiving conflicting information; some say the Carta still exits and it is for 5 years and that things vary by Questura. Has anyone been through a recent experience?

  4. This post is so helpful, thank you!! I married my Italian husband in March of this year in Italy, and we have been working and living in Iceland for the last six months. We’re going to start the Carta process when we go back to Italy in September, but the US one is the most daunting to me… especially since we’re more or less up in the air with where we want to live. I am an artist, he is a chef, so we’re not at a high income level, and generally have seasonal jobs. The form of support may be the most difficult part… was it a difficult legal process to have your father sponsor?
    Thanks again!

  5. You had me at “Angelo” and his glistening pecs. Hold on, I’m in my mind palace….

    Back now. Thank you, thank you for your post here on the bureaucracy of an American marrying an Italian. Because I also like to make things as complicated as possible, I’m an American living in London (on a UK visa expiring in less than a year) and I’m in love with my Italian boyfriend and planning to move to Italy. Except, getting a working visa is a nightmare for seasonal-working, small business-owning people such as ourselves. It seems that getting married will be the easiest option. (Sidenote: How annoying is that? Italy, I want to come and contribute to your economy and society on a working visa but you would rather I GET MARRIED and be free to loaf about for five years? Make better choices.)

    I do in fact, have a question for you, M.E., if you’ve managed to make is this far. 🙂 Did you find it easier as a process to get married outside of Italy and apply for the visa? I’m not sure if our best path is from within or outside of Italy in order to get a visa swiftly.

  6. Thanks, Misty! I realized after I wrote this that you have your answers in your FAQ, so thank you for the response! Your blog also made me laugh out loud like a nut the past two days, and it’s my new go-to for preparing to move to Italy.

      • Another question. 🙂 How difficult was it to do the civil ceremony and receive the marriage certificate in the US? Surely this varies by state, but I’m finding my parents’ home state to be surprisingly lenient. You can make an appointment, bring documentation, no blood tests required and marriage certificate in 24 hours. Is there any immigration check that needs to take place for my boyfriend (him being Italian)? In the UK, we have to be prepared for the Home Office to check us out to make sure it’s not a sham marriage, which can take up to 70 days. Does the US really not do anything like this? Or because we’re not intending to stay in the US at this juncture, are they not concerned?

      • The US doesn’t do anything for the marriage. It’s super easy. However, if he applies for a greencard to live and work in the US that’s when they put you through the ringer. Have you checked my FAQ page? Lots of marriage stuff in there too. 🙂

  7. Yup, I sure did. Your FAQ and the above gives all the stuff I need for the Italian and US greencard, thank you! The US marriage was the missing piece for me. Thanks again!

  8. I am really enjoying your blog. I am an American and also married to an Italian and we currently live in Milano. I have a question regarding your husband’s green card. Do you guys live in the US or in Florence? I thought green card holders will lose their green card if they lived outside of the US?

  9. I (U.S citizen) intend on moving to Italy in 3 years. I am not planning on marrying anyone again however, I would like to teach business English in Italy for companies & corporations that would like to do more business with U.S or companies located within the U.S. I have my M.B.A in business. My question is the process the same moving to Italy single and needing to work part-time?

    • You would need a work visa which is fairly Difficult to get or a student visa (which would only allow you to work part time). The other option is to get a visa (often called an artist visa) where you prove you will not need to work for Italians (if you wanted to work remotely for a US company in Italy).

      • Hi, I’m confused about something. Is there a difference between Italian citizenship and Italian greencard? If yes, can you throw more light on it? Thanks:)

      • Yes. Same as in the US. A greencard means you are a legal resident, meaning you can legally live and work somewhere. A citizen is a citizen, meaning you can get a passport from that country, vote, etc. 🙂

  10. I am British, my husband of 12 years is American, we own a property in Florida and also in Italy where we live. I do not have a US Green card and have applied for one from here ( sent to USA 2 months ago) in Italy. Can I still go on holiday to our home in Florida (as we do every December and January) this winter if the paperwork hasn’t come through?

  11. I can echo everyone here: THANK YOU for your wonderful and helpful blog. I happen upon in it each time I search “How do I navigate the shit for the Permesso,” or some rendition thereof. I have a question for you or your readers as I have Googled to no specifically confirmed avail. I met my boyfriend in Vail, Colorado in 2014. When he returned to Bologna for work, we traveled back and forth to see each other. I visit with tourist status for under 90 days each time. I am here now, and we are preparing for my move to Italy. He is a surgeon so him coming to US is not in the cards right now (Talk about bureaucracy). I sell resort real estate and don’t speak Italian, although my pantomime and misused Italian after drinks gets me by, so apparently I am the candidate among us to make the move. I am making application for the National Visa and will be traveling to the consulate in Chicago when I am back in the states (then applying for the Permesso di Soggiorno when I make the move to Italy.) So the question… sorry this moving thing makes me awkward and longwinded… Can I apply for “Family Reasons?” I read in one or two places that significant other (their invitation, living with them, etc.) qualifies, but most of the consulate sites state that the non-Italian person must be spouse, child, parent, etc. If he was my spouse I would be asking for that fabulous Carta thing. So what does one do in the meantime? We don’t want to plan a marriage until I am here for a while and settled as I am selling my house in Vail, moving, etc… adding a wedding(s) is overwhelming. Or do I apply for “Elective Residence,” which does not allow me to work (Does Family Reasons allow me to work?), as I have verifiable funds to support myself for a year. That is not ideal. All said, my boyfriend is paying most of my expenses so does that put us back in Family Reasons? Do you do what is simple or what is right? I want to have a seamless visit to consulate if at all possible, and prepare my documents correctly. Thank you, thank you for any insight! – Michelle

  12. I think when I wrote this detailed inquiry above ^^^^^^^ I made it much too complicated, and I have yet to find the answer. So I am trying again in hopes that there is a reader or writer here that can help. 🙂 Does anyone know if you can get a National Visa for “family reasons” at the consulate in U.S., if you are not married or related? Then followed by the Permesso di Soggiorno for the same if the Italian citizen who invited you is a love interest, writes letter of invitation, vouches, etc.? I have not been able to confirm on any official site or receive response from consulate that the Visa absolutely requires me to be a spouse with no wiggle room. THANK YOU! – Michelle

  13. How long does it take to obtain the visa? When you gave them your marriage certificate that is from the states, not Italy. Thanks

    • For me in Italy or for Francesco in the US? It took me a week to get a spousal visa to return to Italy from the US after we married. Then a month or two to get my greencard. It took F a couple months to get his greencard to the US from Italy.

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