Since 1992, a change in Italian law that for the first time allowed dual citizenship between Italy and the United States, caused thousands of Italian Americans to apply for Italian citizenship. The onset of the global pandemic in the beginning of 2020 has seen an even bigger uptick in applications. Their reasons are various. Some have used the quarantine time to research their family history and simply wish to reconnect with their familial homeland, coming full circle from their immigrant ancestors. Young professionals are eyeing up business opportunities in bell’Italia. Others see Italian citizenship as an exit strategy or retirement plan, from their home country. Still others seek the benefits of becoming an EU citizen, which comes with Italian citizenship.
New York Times – The New American Status Symbol? A Second Passport. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/style/golden-visa-second-passport-dual-citizenship.html)
US World Herald – Full Circle: Italian-Americans Returning to the Old Country (https://www.usworldherald.com/full-circle-retire-in-italy/?fbclid=IwAR0q1z3d9i-oqe5iyDz-VAAM7oWj0KXDctt0qBFWv60z7HDRzq9zA7A_cDw)
The Local – Italy has the world’s fourth most powerful passport (https://www.thelocal.it/20200110/italy-worlds-fourth-most-powerful-passport?fbclid=IwAR2BeRWtR9aSbpdOtXWYsepAIiNF4Sm5omnsiAXdghC8vLkRwG1qeSHLIRg)
Regardless of the reason, the interest in Italian citizenship has never been higher. Have you been curious if you qualify for Italian citizenship? There are several different avenues:
Jure Sanguinis. The most popular avenue is applying for Citizenship by descent (jure sanguinis – literally “right of blood”) is granted to individuals that can prove Italian ancestry, even if through several generations. The Italian constitution views these individuals as Italians by right, it’s simply a matter of proving it through documentation. That right to Italian citizenship can be passed on from one generation to the next without limitations, provided that:
• the ancestor born in Italy was an Italian citizen at the time of his descendants’ birth (if he/she became US citizen after the descendant’s birth eligibility is still passed on).
• neither the applicant nor any of the family members in direct line of descent have ever renounced their Italian citizenship
• There are some provisos to the general rule: (a) The “1948” Rule- Applicants for jure sanguinis can only go through maternal line if they were born after Jan 1, 1948. However applicants that fit this category can appeal to the Italian Tribunal in Rome. (b) If Italian ancestor naturalized before July 1, 1912, all minor children also renounced no matter where they were born
Other avenues for gaining Italian citizenship
– By marriage to an Italian Citizen:
– Non-Italian spouse married to an Italian citizen, eligible after 2 years of marriage and residing in Italy.
– For those residing outside of Italy, must be married at least 3 years. Time reduced to 18 months if the marriage has produced children.
– Non-Italian spouse must demonstrate knowledge of Italian language (B1 level proficiency) as defined by Italian Ministry of Education.
– Foreign women married to Italian men, prior to April 27, 1983 automatically acquired Italian citizenship. No residency or language requirement.
– By residency in Italy (Naturalization)
– 10 years residing in Italy, if applicant has no Italian ancestors
– 3 years residing in Italy, if applicant has Italian born parents or grandparents
– Reclaiming Italian Citizenship
– If previously an Italian citizen and naturalized prior to August 15, 1992, applicant can regain citizenship after returning to Italy and residing for one year.
Benefits of Italian Citizenship
– Connecting with your Italian Heritage
– Hereditary Value – can be passed on to future generations
– Ease of Travel – travel, work and live in any EU country. No visas needed
– Employment Opportunities
– Affordable or Free Higher Education
– Owning, Renting, or Purchasing Property
– Healthcare – access to free healthcare within Italy
– Vote in Italian Elections (no matter where you reside)
Where to Start?
Research family history. Determine your last Italian-born ancestor. Need to figure out their birth date, marriage date, death date, and location for each event, need the same info for everyone down the line to you.
Obtain naturalization records. Perform a search to determine when your Italian-born ancestor became a US citizen, if at all. If he becomes a citizen after his child’s birth, you will probably be eligible (with a few exceptions – 1948 rule, ancestors from Trentino, ancestors born prior to 1861). If they never became a citizen, you need to order a verification of non-naturalization.
Obtain Italian vital records. Need to obtain the Italian birth certificate of the Italian ancestor. If they got married in Italy, need the Italian marriage certificate as well. If spouse born in Italy, obtain their birth certificate as well.
Obtain American vital records. Going to need certified (long form) copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates of everyone in the ancestor’s line.
Obtain Apostilles and Translations. For all documents issued in the United States, each must be translated in Italian and have an apostille attached. An Apostille is a specialized authentication, issued by the Secretary of State. The Apostille is attached to the original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so it will be accepted in Italy
Schedule citizenship appointment. The local consulate you need to schedule with depends on where you reside. (*Note* – faster track may be available if residing in Italy)
Schedule appointment to get your passport, after the citizenship application is approved.
Do I need to hire a Dual Citizenship service?
Whether you perform all of the leg work yourself or retain the help of a service all depends on your personal preference. The Italian Consulate websites, and research sites such an Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/), Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/en/), and Antenati (http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/?lang=en) are excellent sources of information. There are numerous social media groups dedicated to the subject as well. Applicants with the patience to work through the details can certainly do it on their own.
The advantage of a services such as myself (https://desapiodualcitizenship.com/) or our friends at My Italian Family (https://www.myitalianfamily.com/), are the wealth of experience in assisting other clients, the ability to navigate you through the process and anticipate any issues, and tapping into their network of professionals – such as translators, genealogists, and searchers both here and in Italy.
By: Michael De Sapio of DeSapio Dual Citizenship Services http://www.desapiodualcitizenship.com