Italian Citizenship For Descendants Of Women
Until recently, those who had female Italian ancestry through women born before January 1st, 1948 were generally unable to obtain Italian citizenship due to ancestry. Seeking Italian citizenship by descent (Jure Sanguinis) from a grandmother or great-grandmother was a difficult and sometimes impossible task, based solely on her date of birth.
However, in 2009 this law came under question. The High Court of Rome went against precedent and granted Italian citizenship to the descendant of an Italian woman born before 1948. This is great news and a forward-looking step on the part of the court to end what many view as a discriminatory and antiquated Italian citizenship law. Previously, the law prevented any person, male or female, born before 1948 from an Italian woman from becoming an Italian citizen through great-grandparents. Italian ancestry, as a result, has become more accessible to those who are entitled to it.
It’s important to be aware of the dates, however. Due to the fact the children must be born after 1948, this throws a wrench in the works for some. For example, if your father was born in 1946 and your grandmother in 1918, you would not be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship through the consulate. This is called the 1948 rule. However, because of the rulings against discrimination, they can request it through a court.
Changing Views on Italian Citizenship Through Italian Descent
Since 2009, many Italian American women and men have succeeded in becoming an Italian citizen by ancestry based on a female Italian ancestor born prior to 1948. This was thanks to lawsuits that challenged the discriminatory notion that Italian women couldn’t pass on their citizenship when it could be passed on through the paternal line.
You can take action to secure the benefits of dual citizenship on your own, or with our help, keeping these factors in mind:
- If you live in the United States and your grandparent or great-grandparent was born in Italy, you do not need to travel to Italy to apply for Italian citizenship, but you do need to have a trial establish your right to eligibility for citizenship. Additionally, several family members may join the same legal action. You will apply through a court in Italy.
- You will need to supply vital records to become an Italian citizen, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and other specific documents to support your claim for citizenship by descent. Some experts can help you find these.
- As of 2017, you may file a legal appeal (ricorso) rather than the more costly legal petition (atto di citazione) to petition for dual citizenship based on your female ancestor who was a citizen at the time of their death.
- While the decision of the Italian Court cannot be guaranteed, many female-based, pre-1984 Italian citizenship applications are being granted through ancestry, and the Italian government is reportedly no longer sending legal representatives to oppose applications where the applicant’s grandmother was born before 1948.
- In June 2022, a new citizenship law came into effect after a court case. Proceedings for Dual Citizenship are submitted to the District Court. This will happen in the city where the Italian Court of Appeal of reference for the ancestors who have given the descendant rights to citizenship is located.
Discovering Your Family History
The first step to seeing if you now qualify for Italian citizenship through these changed laws is exploring your family history. You’ll have to prove your connection through documents like birth records, death certificates, marriage certificates, and more.
You should also be aware of the waiting times to obtain Italian passports. In some Italian civil courts, it can take up to nine months to process your documents just to get citizenship and, at Italian consulates, it can take up to 24. Try to make sure all of your case information is accurate and all documents match requirements (such as being apostilled and getting the appropriate translations) before you proceed, as this will greatly reduce delays.
Is It Time to Revisit Your Italian Citizenship Application?
If you have tried to see if you qualify for Italian citizenship through great-grandparents in the past and been denied, or even if our team at the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program was unable to help you in the past, the situation may have changed. You can become an Italian citizen through great-grandparents whether or not they were born after January 1948. If your female grandparent was born before 1948 and moved to a country other than Italy without giving up their Italian citizenship, you may qualify.
You do not need to be present for the court hearing as a U.S. citizen, and other members of your family can join it, whether siblings, parents, or children. They will all be added to the Italian civil registry at the completion of a successful court case. However, it is advisable to talk to expert citizenship and immigration services, as they can provide assistance and ensure everything goes smoothly.
Even if you aren’t a descendant of an Italian woman, you may still qualify for Italian dual citizenship another way. If you’re not sure where to begin on your path to citizenship, contact ITAMCAP today for a free phone consultation. We have an expert that can help with genealogical research and walk you through the process of obtaining your dual citizenship.