It’s time for another update on how our family quest for Italian citizenship is going. Last time I wrote about this (you can read my previous post here) I was waiting to sit an Italian language exam which I needed to pass in order to apply for citizenship*. This is what happened next.
Italian language exam for citizenship
The language qualification requirement was introduced by the Italian authorities at the end of 2018, and it only seems to apply to those of us who are applying for citizenship through marriage.
The exam is an official qualification which you can only take on certain dates and at registered centres – it seems to be a bit like the way that GCSEs and A Levels are run in the UK. I live in Surrey, to the south of London, and the nearest place where I could take the exam was at La Dante in Cambridge cultural centre, 80 miles from my home. It cost £200 to take the exam.
The date for the exam was confirmed just a couple of weeks before it took place. Although this meant that I didn’t have enough time to prepare properly, I decided to go for it as it would be several months before I’d have another chance to sit the exam. I studied Italian at university around thirty years ago and, although I do still know the language, my skills are very rusty. I reasoned that if I didn’t pass the exam it would still be useful practice, and I could study hard to retake it at the next opportunity.
Italian exam preparation
There was no time for me to arrange any lessons before the exam. I prepared for it by myself as best I could by downloading a set of practice papers and working through them a couple of days beforehand. You can find the sample exam papers which I used here. I also listened to Italian podcasts whenever I could, especially when I was driving. I discovered some free intermediate-level podcasts – the ones which I found the most helpful were News in Slow Italian, 30 Minute Italian and Incontro Italiano.
I prepared for the oral part of the exam by thinking about how to talk about myself, as I knew that I’d have to start by doing that, and it’s something which I don’t find easy even in English!
Italian exam format
The exam is in four sections: reading, writing, listening and speaking. It takes place over the course of a day. You have to pass all four sections in order to pass the exam overall. If you don’t pass all of the sections you can retake them individually (within a set time limit), without having to do the whole thing again.
I found the speaking part of the exam to be the most difficult. It involved presenting myself (this was OK as I’d practised what to say), a role play in Italian with another candidate and a monologue in Italian on a particular subject. We weren’t told before the exam what the monologue or role play would be about, and we were allowed just three minutes to prepare for them. None of us who were taking the exam had met each other beforehand. One of the other candidates had a very strong Neapolitan accent and I found him hard to understand. I was really hoping that I wouldn’t be paired with him for the role play – thankfully I wasn’t!
The examiners recorded what we said but didn’t speak to us at all during these tasks (apart from reading the initial instructions in Italian). I felt exhausted by the end of this part of the exam and was convinced that I’d have to retake it.
Italian exam results
I’m amazed and delighted to say that I did actually pass the exam! I was informed by email a few days ago, and am now waiting to receive my certificate.
UK Criminal Records Certificate
Now that I know that I’ve passed the exam, I’ve applied for a certificate to show that I don’t have a criminal record. This is called a ‘Police certificate for immigration purposes’ and you apply for it from the Criminal Records Office here. It costs £45 to apply for this certificate. I didn’t apply for it before now because the Italian authorities say that it has to be dated within six months of when you make your application. So I needed to wait until I knew that I’d passed the exam, in case I had to wait for months to retake it.
Once the Police certificate arrives I need to have it legalised and then translated into Italian by a translator who is approved by the Italian Consulate. I will use the same translator as before, and I will also ask her to translate a legalised copy of my birth certificate. (See my post Applying for Italian citizenship – part 3 for details of how to get documents legalised, translated and certified.)
After that, I think that I should have everything ready to make my application for Italian citizenship – as long as the requirements haven’t changed by then.
What about the kids?
I have no news to share regarding our daughter’s or son’s applications. Their documents are with the Italian authorities, and we’ve been told that it could take up to two years for them to be processed.
The previous parts of this story are here:
Over to you
Do let me know if you have any comments or queries about these posts. Many people have been contacting me about what we’re doing, and it’s really interesting to hear about your experiences. Good luck to anyone else who’s going through the process!
*Please note: I’m not a lawyer and I’ve never done this before. I’m sharing my story here in order to be helpful to others, but please don’t rely on me if you’re making your own application!