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A to Z Guide to Becoming an Italian Citizen
There are several different paths to becoming an Italian citizen when one wants Italian dual citizenship status. One of the most common ways is to apply for Italian citizenship by descent, called jure sanguinis. This concept is the foundation that is used to determine when someone can claim Italian citizenship through an ancestor, such as a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.
Jure Sanguinis is possible regardless of the applicant’s place of birth, as long as your Italian ancestor meets certain qualifications and you gather documents supporting your ancestry. Many people of Italian descent who live in the United States may not even know they are eligible for dual citizenship. If your ancestor did not complete the naturalization process, they retain the right to pass down citizenship through several generations. However, over the years there have been changes in Italian citizenship laws that could affect your rights to Italian citizenship by descent.
Let’s go through the A to Z steps of becoming an Italian citizen through jure sanguinis, or by the blood, and how you can get started on the path to dual citizenship.
Ask About Your Family’s Heritage and Lineage
Speak to an Italian parent, grandparent or great-grandparent to learn more about your family’s Italian heritage and lineage. Find out whether anyone in your family was an Italian citizen and whether your Italian ancestors gave up their right to Italian citizenship or can pass it along to you.
You need to find out who was your last Italy-registered ancestor and whether they completed the naturalization process when they immigrated. If you have even one Italian-born ancestor who never naturalized or surrendered their Italian citizenship, you may be eligible for dual citizenship, which you can pass on to your own children or spouse.
Confirm the Date and Location of Your Ancestor’s Birth
If you find an ancestor, you want to check Italian records for their birth certificate to confirm the date and place of birth. If birth certificates do not exist, church records may be accepted. What is essential is to find the legal documents that establish your ancestor and the benefits which can be passed on to descendants like yourself.
If your only Italian ancestor was a female, born before January 1, 1948, you may not immediately qualify for Italian citizenship by descent, based on Italian law. After 1948, women were given the right to pass their citizenship to their children though a court of law. You can still be granted Italian citizenship by the Italian courts in this situation, which is a fairly straightforward legal process.
Contact an Italian Citizenship Assistance Program
It can be much easier to find out if you qualify for Italian citizenship by descent when you get help from a qualified service familiar with the rules of jure sanguinis, and jure matrimonii (Italian citizenship by marriage). While it is possible to put together your own application as required by the Italian consulate in your area, the process is much easier with experts in Italian records, naturalization records, and certified translations or Apostille requirements.
Establish Eligibility for Italian Dual Citizenship
One of the areas where an Italian citizenship assistance program can help you right away is with advice about your eligibility. By reviewing the information you gathered from your family and the legal documents you were able to locate on your own, they can tell you how likely you are to succeed in applying for Italian citizenship by descent.
Both Italy and the United States allow multiple citizenships, so you can become an Italian citizen without losing your United States citizenship. Once your eligibility has been reviewed, you can start to move ahead with starting the Italian citizenship application process through your Italian consulate.
Gather All Required Documents
You can gather the legal documents needed from Italian municipalities, or comuni, and various state and federal records including a statement outlining the lack of naturalization records for your immigrant ancestor. Your Italian citizen assistance program can assist with these steps as well, and can help you locate those documents the Italian consulate requires that are difficult to track down in comuni or municipal offices in Italy.
You will need to produce birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, and other vital records to support your claim to become an Italian citizen. You may also need to obtain official naturalization records when your Italian citizen ancestor was naturalized as a U.S. citizen.
Because the process of naturalization often involves surrendering citizenship in other countries, it is a good thing if there are no naturalization records available for your qualifying ancestor. This means they may have remained an Italian citizen after immigration, and you can inherit Italian citizenship through them. Instead, you will need to request an official document stating that no naturalization records are available.
Have the Documents Translated Into Italian
While you are not required to learn the Italian language in order to become an Italian citizen by descent, your paperwork has to be officially translated into Italian by a qualified translator. Be sure to obtain birth and death records in long form, official and legal formats. Even if you learned Italian by visiting or from a relative, you cannot translate these documents into the Italian language yourself.
Make an Appointment with the Italian Consulate
You will submit your application for Italian citizenship to the Italian consulate with jurisdiction over the area where you reside. You will need to schedule an appointment to review your application to become an Italian citizen and determine if it is complete and accurate.
If the Italian consulate reviewer finds anything is incomplete or missing, they will give you “homework” that needs to be completed. Then, you must reschedule your appointment and go through the review a second time. With dual citizenship demand high, this could delay your application by several months.
If everything is in order, then your application and documentation for citizenship by descent are submitted for consideration. Keep in mind, some documents and translations will be retained by the Italian consulate, but.the naturalization document can be returned if requested at the consulate appointment time.
Wait for Approval as an Italian Dual Citizen
Most of the time, you are notified that you are officially an Italian citizen after about eight months to 2 years. When you receive your official notice that you’ve been approved as an Italian citizen, you will be automatically registered with AIRE, which is the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad. This system will then allow you to apply for an Italian passport and enjoy all the benefits of Italian citizenship.
Please note that this is just one possible path to Italian citizenship. There are others for you to consider as well. You might become an Italian citizen by marriage, by investment, or by residency. If you are registered in a municipality in Italy as a legal foreign resident for 10 years, you would be eligible to apply to become an Italian citizen.
Get the Help You Need to Become an Italian Citizen
If you are interested in finding out if you qualify for Italian dual citizenship status and for help with the application process, please feel free to contact the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program at (305) 812-5512 today!