Hi there and welcome!
I am Audra and I am owner and operator of Get Italian Citizenship, a boutique consulting firm for people seeking Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. In this post I will be talking about how to obtain naturalization records for your Italian dual citizenship application.
Before anyone can have their Italian dual citizenship recognized, they have to determine if they qualify. Doing that is as easy as following a few simple steps.
The first step before doing anything else is finding out your last Italian-born ancestor’s naturalization date, and that is the step we will be concentrating on today. If that date is after their child’s birth, then you should qualify for Italian dual citizenship.
Let me explain!
Italian citizenship is passed from parent to parent. Unlike being born in the United States, being born in Italy does not automatically make one an Italian citizen.
However, being born to a qualifying Italian citizen does.
In other words, if a person is born to an Italian parent then that person is vested with Italian citizenship at birth. This citizenship can lie “latent” and unrecognized across generations. This is what happens when people qualify through their grandparents, great grandparents and beyond.
However, if a person is born to a parent who has already lost their Italian citizenship, then that person cannot obtain citizenship through his or her parent. In order to get citizenship from an Italian parent, a child must be born when that parent is still an Italian citizen.
Let me give you a practical example: Salvatore was born in New York in 1921. His father, Vito, was born in Italy in 1891. Vito did not become an Italian citizen until 1944, well after Salvatore’s birth. Because Vito was an Italian citizen at the time of Salvatore’s birth, Salvatore was vested with Italian dual citizenship at birth. Salvatore and all of his descendants can make a successful claim to Italian dual citizenship.
As long as your last Italian-born ancestor meets all other requirements, if s/he was still an Italian citizen at the time of his or her child’s birth, then his or her child is eligible for Italian dual citizenship (and so would that child’s descendants… with very few exceptions).
In other words: if your last Italian-born ancestor was Italian when his or her child was born, then that child is Italian too, and so are all of that child’s descendants. There are very few exceptions, but I will discuss those in a future post.
Now that you know about how naturalization affects how Italian citizenship is passed from parent to child, let’s discuss getting actual naturalization records.
There are a number of places you can look for naturalization records. Depending on the year and place of naturalization, follow these tips and tricks.
Before 1906, any court of record could grant U.S. citizenship. These included:
• municipal courts
• county courts
• state courts
• federal courts
Generally to find these records you will need to either:
• contact the court directly for further information
• contact the State Archives for the state in which the naturalization occurred to request a search of local, county, and state court records
• contact the National Archives and Records Administration regional facility that serves the state to request a search of federal court records
However, a word of caution! If you ancestor naturalized before July 1, 1912 you cannot apply for recognition of Italian dual citizenship at a consulate. In these cases, you may have luck applying directly in Italy.
After 1906, courts forwarded copies of naturalizations to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INC).
After 1906, naturalizations from federal courts are kept at NARA’s regional facilities for the federal courts for their area.
The NARA regional office in Washington, D.C. holds naturalization records for federal courts in Washington, D.C.
You may also be able to find copies of naturalization records in your local county clerk’s office.
These copies—whether obtained directly through NARA or a county clerk’s office—usually contain documents such as the certificate of arrival, declaration of intention, petition of witnesses, and oath of allegiance.
The documents obtained from NARA and county clerks are almost always enough when applying in Italy (they must be apostilled), but to apply at a consulate you must obtain the actual C-File (naturalization certificate). This certificate is not on file with NARA or the county clerks’ offices.
You can request copies of naturalization records from NARA by clicking here.
In order to obtain a copy of the C-File (naturalization certificate), you must contact USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
Note that C-Files may contain the same records as provided by NARA, but that NARA cannot issue the actual naturalization certificate (only NARA can do that). So, while some records may overlap, you can only obtain your ancestor’s actual naturalization certificate by contacting USCIS.
In 2013, a researcher sent the USCIS Genealogy Notebook a very important question:
What is the difference between a search requested from the National Archives (ordering reproductions, Immigration & Naturalization Records) and requesting information from USCIS? Does the content from these two sources overlap? Thank you for your help in understanding the difference between what is available from each agency for Naturalization records.
USCIS answers as follows:
The question is important because the most common misconception about USCIS records is that USCIS C-Files are exact duplicates of court [or NARA] records. However, C-Files are not exact duplicates for 3 reasons:
1. C-Files also contain a copy of the actual naturalization certificate issued to the new citizen in addition to the duplicated court forms. If the C-File contains only a certificate, petition, and declaration, researchers may consider that C-File little more than a duplicate of court records available from the National Archives (NARA) or from a courthouse.
2. Not all C-Files are small. Some contain a number of additional forms and documents generated before and after the naturalization date.
3. Many C-Files relate exclusively to citizenship and not naturalization, so they contain no court records at all.
On this page there is a super handy chart to figure out what records overlap and during which years so you can avoid making a duplicate search.
If you are going to a consular appointment, request the C-File from USCIS. Consulates want the actual naturalization certificate.
If you are going to apply directly in Italy, request documents from NARA or from your local county clerk’s office. These documents should suffice for Italy.
Note that if there is no record of naturalization or naturalization cannot be proved, you must provide further documentation which I will discuss in a later post.
When determining your eligibility for Italian dual citizenship, finding out your ancestor’s naturalization date is your first step.
Now that you are a pro in locating naturalization records, you should know that you can obtain them in a number of ways. These are:
• Local county clerks
• Courts of record
Remember that before you can do any search you will need your ancestor’s full name, place of birth, date of birth, and a general idea of where he or she lived so you know where to look. Happy searching!