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My wife and will be traveling to Italy for vacations and she is from a country that requires a visa. This is usually not a problem, as she has obtained travel visas to several other countries including the US and Ireland. However, we are running into problems that we now believe are due to a rogue immigrations official at the Italian Consulate in Buenos Aires, who is willfully disregarding EU law.

She had originally approached the consular official with the typical proof of funds, proof of accommodation, and international insurance. He denied her based on the format of her proof of funds (which had been prepared by her accountant in a similar way to those that had been accepted in all other countries).

Then we realized that different rules apply to her since she is the wife of an Irish national (me). She only needs to show my passport and an apostilled marriage certificate. She returned with this and still he claimed that he required proof of funds.

She returned again with printed EU law clarifying that he was not allowed to request those documents, and he then looked at my passport and our marriage certificate and noticed that my name has a small modification (one middle name on the marriage cert and 2 on my Irish passport). This is a common problem since I have two passports (USA and Irish). My USA only has one middle name (my parents claimed that there was only space for one when they got my passport a long time ago). This has trickled down to my current ID (in Argentina) and marriage certificate. The official said he couldn't accept this (even though I was in the room and showed him both passports).

The Irish embassy said this was a common problem and wrote a letter in official Irish Consular letterhead that certified the equivalence of the names. And once again the Italian official denied it saying it was "meaningless."

There is plenty of EU law that supports the right of a citizen to travel freely with his family and guard against "divergent administrative practices". On the other hand, I have no idea how to defend myself when these practices are violated.

This has been going on for a month and a half, and we're now very close to canceling a family vacation (non-refundable) due to a single consular official! Any advice?

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    Just modify your itinerary (on paper) and apply from a different Schengen embassy. Don’t waste your time trying to outlast this officer who is on a power trip. In the past I have applied for and been approved for six or seven Schengen visas. In four of those cases I applied from the easiest embassy and didn’t even visit the country which issued me the visa. I have no compunction violating unreasonable visa rules. – user 56513 Apr 16 at 1:37
  • Thanks, that seems like the best way to approach this. Any suggestions in finding who is the easiest? – liamconnell Apr 16 at 13:38
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    Well I found the Spanish embassy to be the easiest and the Germans to be the toughest in the Washington DC area with France in between. I can’t tell about your location. Also check availability of interview slots. – user 56513 Apr 16 at 13:48
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I don't have a great solution for you, but here are some options, too long for a comment:

  • There's SOLVIT. I suspect that the timeframe of 10 weeks may be longer than you have, but they may be able to resolve the question more quickly than that. (Furthermore, I am unfamiliar with EU law on divergent administrative practices, but the free-movement directive does not establish standards for the evaluation of family relationships. That implies that this is left to national law, so it may be difficult to challenge the officer's recognition of your documents except within the Italian system. Still, it can't hurt to try the easier options first.)

  • You could try another country's consulate. That could be difficult if you can't easily change your trip to make that country your "main destination."

  • If Ireland registers foreign marriages, you might be able to get them to register your marriage with your Irish name, which might help, but that's a lot of ifs. In particular, it does not appear at first glance that Ireland registers foreign marriages.

  • You can also of course try to apply for a regular Schengen visa, submitting appropriate financial proofs that are acceptable to the consulate. The consular officer will gloat, but if that is the price for not having to cancel your vacation then it may be worth humbling yourself just to get through it and get your wife on the plane.

In the longer term, you should be able to get your US passport corrected. Even though there's only a single spot on the application for "middle name," it should be possible to put two words there. I would also look into the possibility of getting the marriage certificate changed or amended; whether that will be possible will depend on the law of the place where you were married, which you haven't identified.

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