The Italian Dual Citizenship Process: Background Info
Italian citizenship laws are based on the principle of jure sanguinis. In fact, in this industry the terms “Italian dual citizenship” and “Italian citizenship jure sanguinis” are interchangeable.
Jure sanguinis is a Latin term meaning “by right of blood.” In Italy, citizenship is passed down from parent to child. The Italian system is unlike the American one, which is instead based off of the principle of jure soli. This is a Latin term meaning “by right of soil.” So, while Italian citizenship is passed from parent to child, United States Citizenship is given to anyone born within United States territory.
Article 7 of Italian Citizenship Law no. 555 of 1912 allows a child born to an Italian in a jure soli country to keep the Italian citizenship acquired jure sanguinis at birth through his parent. The child can even keep Italian citizenship if his parent naturalizes, as long as the child was born to a parent who was still an Italian citizen at the precise moment of birth.
Thus, these two types of citizenship do not overlap or conflict. That is why Italian and American laws fit neatly together in terms of citizenship. Because of the above Article 7, an American of Italian descent born in the United States can be both an American citizen jure soli and an Italian citizen jure sanguinis at birth. Cool, right?
Two Important Ways to Prove Eligibility
There are two main criteria to keep in mind when proving eligibility for Italian dual citizenship (you may read more about qualifying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis here).
1. You must prove you are the descendant of an Italian citizen; and
2. You must prove there was no interruption of citizenship (no naturalizations causing loss of Italian citizenship before the birth of a child).
So, how do you get Italian citizenship?
The first thing you do is identify your last Italian-born ancestor. Then, you work backwards all the way back to you. You’ll need to find your ancestor’s naturalization record to determine if you are eligible. Once that is found, you can then work in the way that’s most comfortable for you.
Some people already have their ancestors’ naturalization records back home. When I started my Italian dual citizenship journey, I was lucky because my grandfather’s 1944 naturalization certificate was hanging proudly on the wall!
Before doing anything you’ll also need to consult your consulate’s website. Each consulate will have specific instructions as to what documents are needed for a complete application. Print this list out and work from it.
Obtaining recognition of your Italian dual citizenship is a marathon, and not a spring. You’ll have to track down documents and compile them, but the feeling of having everything in hand is magical! The nature of applying for Italian dual citizenship means you’ll probably learn a lot more about your family’s history. You may have to consult passenger arrival records, census records, and birth, marriage, and death certificates you have never seen before.
Once you have a completed packet of documents, you can make your appointment at the consulate. The consular worker will go over everything with you. If anything is missing or needs to be corrected, they will tell you and give you some time to come back and get everything done.
If everything is good, you’ll get a receipt and will begin the process of waiting!
After you are recognized, your birth and marriage records will be transcribed in your ancestral hometown in Italy. Then, you can enroll in AIRE (Registry of Italians Living Abroad) and obtain your passport. And that’s it–you’re an Italian citizen!