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How to Become an Italian Citizen
Have you visited Italy using your U.S. passport and would like to stay longer? Maybe you would like to live in Italy part of the year or become a legal resident of Italy. You may want the option of traveling under an Italian passport, the right to work in the EU, or simply to pass on the benefits of being an Italian citizen to your children.
This guide on how to become an Italian citizen focuses on the main paths to gaining citizenship through marriage, by Italian ancestry, or by naturalization. Becoming an Italian citizen may be as simple as meeting the eligibility requirements and filing a citizenship application with your regional Italian consulate. In some cases, more than one path to dual citizenship might be available, so you will want to choose the one that will allow you to obtain citizenship the fastest.
Option 1: Italian Citizenship Through Marriage
One path to Italian citizenship is through marriage, called jure matrimonii in Italian. If you legally marry someone who is an Italian citizen or has dual citizenship status, you can also qualify for Italian citizenship. The process requires you to have been married for 2 years if you live in Italy, or for 3 years if you live in the United States, before you can submit your citizenship application. It is not as fast as some options, but it is one of the easier ways to secure Italian citizenship.
Jure Matrimonii Process
- The time requirements to apply for citizenship by marriage are cut in half if you have minor children as a couple.
- Italy recognizes same-sex marriages and these individuals have the same rights to apply for citizenship.
- The spouse of the Italian citizen must attain an intermediate knowledge of the Italian language at a level of B1.
- The spouse must submit certification of a clean criminal record in all states where they have resided since the age of 14.
- If you are staying in Italy with your spouse you may apply there, otherwise you will complete a citizenship application through your regional Italian consulate.
Option 2: Italian Citizenship Through Italian Ancestry
Many people obtain their Italian citizenship through the process of jure sanguinis. This simply means that you can become an Italian citizen by descent. It is usually the easiest and fastest option for securing citizenship.
Jure Sanguinis Process
Gaining Italian citizenship by jure sanguinis starts with identifying your Italian ancestors and determining if they meet the eligibility requirements for citizenship by descent:
- Genealogy research might be needed to track down vital and civil records on your Italian ancestors.
- Your qualifying Italian ancestor must not have naturalized or surrendered their Italian citizenship.
- You may go back several generations to prove Italian citizenship by descent.
- If your Italian ancestor was a female who gave birth to you or your next ancestor before January 1st, 1948, Italian law requires that the consulate deny your application, but this decision can then be appealed to the Court of Rome, where they are often overturned.
- Once you obtain jure sanguinis, you then become the qualifying ancestor for your own children and their children.
Option 3: Italian Citizenship Through Naturalization
If you do not marry an Italian citizen or do not have ancestors who immigrated from Italy, Italian citizenship by naturalization is your best option. Naturalization is also an option in cases where you have Italian ancestors, but due to how the laws are written, your ancestry does not qualify you for citizenship.
Naturalizzazione per Residenza Time Requirements
You can apply for citizenship through residency after you have lived in Italy for the required amount of time, which will vary depending on your personal circumstances:
- If you were born in Italy or if your parents or grandparents were Italian citizens, you will wait 3 years to qualify for citizenship through residency.
- If you are an EU citizen you must make Italy your legal residence for 4 years to claim Italian citizenship.
- Stateless persons, refugees, and legal-age foreigners adopted by Italian citizens must wait 5 years to apply for naturalization.
- Those who have worked for the Italian State for at least 5 years do not have a minimum residence requirement, even if they worked abroad for the Italian government.
- All others may have to reside in Italy for 10 years to qualify for Italian citizenship.
Other Requirements for Citizenship by Naturalization
- You must be listed in municipal and civil records as the resident of a township or commune to establish residency.
- Until you become an Italian citizen you will need to have a residency permit and appropriate visa to live or work in Italy.
- Applicants for citizenship through residency must show a B1 level of proficiency in the Italian language.
- You may be required to show evidence of sufficient income to support yourself and your dependents to become a legal resident of Italy.
- Medical students who complete a residency program from an accredited medical school in Italy may qualify for citizenship by the time they complete that program.
- Anyone who is identified as a security risk may be denied citizenship by residency.
Does Becoming an Italian Citizen Affect My US citizenship?
No, both countries allow for dual citizenship, so if you are a US citizen, you can still apply for Italian citizenship.
Does My Italian Citizenship Expire If I Do Not Live in Italy?
Once you obtain Italian citizenship, it does not expire, and while you may visit or live in Italy as long as you like, there is no requirement that you do so.
Will I Have to Pay Taxes in Italy?
You will pay little or no import taxes to bring your personal belongings to Italy if you are a citizen. Anyone who resides in Italy more than 180 days might need to pay taxes on income earned there, whether they are a citizen or not. If you live in the US and do not do business in Italy or the EU, it is unlikely you will be required to pay taxes.
What Is AIRE and Why Do I Need to Register?
If you become a dual citizen you will need to register with AIRE, which is simply a registry of Italian citizens living abroad. You will need AIRE to access consular services and other benefits of your Italian citizenship.
How Fast Can You Become an Italian Citizen?
Please keep in mind, the processes to obtain Italian citizenship by descent can take from a few months to a few years, while naturalization takes as long as 10 years. If you are interested in pursuing Italian citizenship, it is best to start the process as soon as possible with help from the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program.
You can start with a free consultation, and get direct help with locating vital records, translations, Apostille, and consulate processes. Please contact us at (305) 812-5512 for Italian citizenship assistance, to discuss what paths are available to you, and what you need to do to start the process of becoming an Italian citizen today!