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Renounced Italian Citizenship: Can You Lose Eligibility for Dual Italian Citizenship?
There are many reasons Italian Americans might lose their eligibility for dual citizenship based on an Italian ancestor. Applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, or by the blood, requires that your ancestor was an Italian national and that they did not renounce Italian citizenship. Let’s delve into the reasons that you may or may not be eligible for Italian citizenship if you are descended from someone who was born in Italy.
Reason #1: U.S. Citizenship Naturalization
Your ancestor decided to go through the process of U.S. citizenship naturalization. This was common in the early 1900s and mid-1900s when many Italians immigrated to the U.S. Your ancestors could have given up their Italian citizenship through naturalization when they became a citizen of the U.S. or another country. If they did, then you may no longer be entitled to Italian citizenship yourself—but read on, as there are legal changes that might still allow you to qualify for Italian citizenship.
Reason #2: Your Ancestor Was a Minor Born in Italy Before Immigrating
Another reason you may not qualify for dual Italian citizenship is if your ancestor was a minor born in Italy before immigrating to the U.S. The laws surrounding the naturalization of Italian-born minors in the U.S. is rather complex. In some cases, children born in Italy were naturalized when their parents were, and they may have given up their claim on Italian citizenship.
However, if your ancestor was born in the U.S. after their parents immigrated AND their parents were not yet naturalized at the time of their birth, then your ancestor would qualify for dual citizenship status. Provided they did not renounce Italian citizenship at any time, those rights would be passed down to their descendants.
Reason #3: Your Ancestor Was Female
Before January 1, 1948, any female ancestor born previously could not transfer the right to dual citizenship status to her descendants. However, there are certain exceptions, depending on the family lineage, and the Italian government has largely stopped making legal arguments when this outdated law is challenged in court.
Another path around this requirement is if your grandmother was born in Italy before 1948 and your mother was born after that time. If both your mother and grandmother never naturalized and gave up their Italian citizenship, you could still qualify for dual citizenship based on your grandmother’s male Italian ancestor.
Reason #4: Your Ancestor Naturalized in a Different Country
It was not uncommon for Italian immigrants to immigrate to Canada or another country first, and then immigrate to the U.S. later. If your ancestor was naturalized in another country and then immigrated to the U.S. later, your ability to acquire Italian citizenship might depend on the naturalization laws of the country that were in effect when your ancestor immigrated.
How Can I Regain My Right to Italian Citizenship?
In 1992, the Italian government passed a new law regarding dual Italian citizenship status. Part of this law allowed descendants the right to Italian citizenship through jure sanguinis. In some cases, this law allowed those that naturalized to reacquire their citizenship status. If you qualify under the law, then all you must do is live in Italy for at least one year. This required residency in Italy will restore your right to dual Italian citizenship.
However, if your ancestor immigrated to the U.S. after 1992, then they may have already been granted dual Italian citizenship status. In this case, all you may have to do is apply at your regional Italian consulate to become an Italian citizen, travel under an Italian passport, purchase property, and live or work in Italy or the EU.
For further information and help qualifying for dual Italian citizenship, please feel free to contact the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program at (877) 456-1660 today! We offer a FREE 30-minute preliminary telephone consultation and a simple online quiz that will help you determine if you are likely to qualify for the many benefits available to you under Italian law.