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Italian Dual Citizenship and the Naturalization Process for Minors
There can be some confusion about Italian dual citizenship and the naturalization process for minors. In certain cases, where one of your Italian-born ancestors immigrated to the United States and already had minor children (also born in Italy) when they immigrated, they may no longer qualify for dual citizenship status.
This could have occurred if your ancestor and their minor children were naturalized and become U.S. citizens. In effect, they renounced their Italian citizenship and became citizens of the United States. As such, the passing on of Italian citizenship rights would not occur. Immigration laws of the U.S. and Italy are precise on this issue and there are no exceptions.
What if Minors Were Born After Immigration to the U.S.?
On the other hand, if your Italian ancestors immigrated to the United States and then had children born in the U.S. but did not become naturalized until after the children were born, then the situation is handled differently. Children born after their parents were naturalized would be, by law, considered United States citizens because they were born here.
Yet, the immigration law about the naturalization process for minors would not apply. Why is that? The parents did not become U.S. citizens through naturalization until AFTER their children were born. In effect, the parents passed on their rights to Italian citizenship since the minor children never renounced their rights to Italian citizenship.
Italian citizenship laws were written in such a manner that allows a child, born in a foreign country who automatically becomes a citizen of that country through jus soli, the right to retain their Italian citizenship. The U.S. Constitution was written in such a manner that any children born in the U.S. of immigrants to this Country, automatically are U.S. citizens through jus soli.
Since the children did not voluntarily renounce their Italian citizenship, they could still qualify for dual citizenship status. In effect, children that retained their rights to Italian citizenship would pass that right along to their descendants. However, other immigration and citizenship laws could also apply that could affect whether you qualify for dual citizenship status.
The 1912 Rule and the 1948 Rule
The 1912 Rule prevents Italian ancestors from passing their citizenship rights to minor children if the ancestor was naturalized as a U.S. citizen before July 1, 1912. The 1948 Rule went into effect on January 1, 1948, and only allowed descendants of Italian immigrants to claim citizenship through the male side of the family if they were born before this date.
Females were not allowed to pass their citizenship rights along to their children before January 1st, 1948. If the children were born AFTER January 1, 1948, then they can claim their right to dual citizenship status through the female side of the family.
The 1992 Rule
The 1992 Rule allows minor children to seek dual citizenship status if their parents did not become U.S. citizens before their birth before August 15, 1992. For children born after this date, their parents may have already qualified for dual citizenship status, and this would then be passed along to their minor children.
These are just some of the various immigration and citizenship laws used to determine whether a minor child born in the United States with Italian ancestors qualifies for Italian citizenship through jure sanguinis.
To find out if you qualify for Italian dual citizenship status through your ancestors, as well as other options for Italian citizenship, please feel free to contact the Italian American Citizenship Assistant Program (305) 812-5512 today!