What is the 1948 rule?
Before January 1, 1948, Italian women couldn’t give citizenship to their children. If an Italian woman married a non-Italian man, her children wouldn’t be Italian citizens.
Who falls under the 1948 case Italian citizenship rule?
To determine if you’re in for a “1948 case” Italian citizenship application simply find all the women in your direct line. Then, check if those women had children before January 1, 1948. If so, then you’re a 1948 case. If not, the rule doesn’t apply and you can proceed as normal.
1948 rule applicants can’t apply either at the consulates or in Italy. They must hire an Italian attorney to petition the Court of Rome on their behalf. To date, thousands of people have gained Italian dual citizenship via maternal descent. In fact, Italy no longer even defends itself in 1948 case Italian citizenship applications.
How to beat the 1948 rule
If you have a 1948 case, we can help. Our skilled attorneys have won hundreds of cases.
Do you need to go to Italy for a 1948 case citizenship application?
No. Your attorney will do everything on your behalf for you.
Administrative vs. judicial applications. What’s the difference?
There are two “paths” for applying for Italian citizenship:
- Administrative = at the consulates or at the comune
- Judicial = in court
Regular, non-1948 cases go the administrative route. All 1948 cases go the judicial route.
If you are a 1948 case, there is no exception to this rule. You must hire an Italian attorney to represent you in court.
Practical examples: how to figure out if you have a 1948 case
We know this can be confusing, so here are some practical examples of hypothetical clients.
Client 1: Applicant > father > grandmother > great grandfather (the client must apply using the administrative path)
The hypothetical client’s great grandfather was born in Italy in 1890 and emigrated to the United States in 1915. He never naturalized as an American citizen (or, he did after the client’s grandmother was born). The client’s grandmother was born in 1929, and the client’s father was born in 1949. This client is eligible for the administrative route. Why? Because his grandmother passed on citizenship to his father born after January 1, 1948.
Client 2: Applicant > father > grandmother > great grandfather (the client must apply using the judicial path)
Let’s take the same family but use different dates. This client’s grandfather was born in 1890, emigrated to the U.S. in 1915 and never naturalized (or, he did after the client’s grandmother was born). The client’s grandmother was born in 1929, and the client’s father was born in 1947. This client is not eligible for the administrative route. Why? Because his grandmother could not pass on Italian citizenship to his father before January 1, 1948.
According to Law no. 555 of 1912, Italian citizenship could only be transferred from father to children. Legally speaking, Italian women were considered inferior to men. This scenario is the exact basis for the above-mentioned “Case 2,” leading this client to claim Italian citizenship via judicial proceedings in Italy.
Even though consular and comune officials are bound by the letter of the law and cannot grand citizenship to those falling under the 1948 rule, the Court of Rome’s famous 2009 ruling on the matter means that judges in Italy now rule in favor of those who wish to claim citizenship through a female ancestor whose child was born before January 1, 1948.
The three most common scenarios for 1948 cases
The primary scenarios in which 1948 cases are tried in the Court of Rome are as follows:
Italian-born male ascendant becomes a US citizen before his child was born in the US, leaving the applicant no choice but to go through the maternal line
- This is a frequent scenario.
- Applies in cases where an Italian-born man emigrates, acquiring foreign citizenship before the birth of his child.
- For children born before January 1, 1948, s/he may petition the courts for recognition of Italian dual citizenship through his or her mother–the spouse of the early-naturalized Italian-born father.
- The same scenario applies if there is no Italian male ascendant but only an Italian woman ascendant who emigrated from Italy to the US who could not pass on Italian citizenship due to her child’s birthdate.
Italian-born male ascendant with one or more female intermediate ascendants born in the United States
- Applies in cases where an Italian-born ancestor emigrated and never acquired foreign citizenship.
- Also applies when Italian-born ancestors acquired foreign citizenship the birth of his child.
- Occurs when one of your intermediate ascendants, born in your country, is a woman and her child was born before 1948, allowing you to successfully try your case in Italy.
Italian-born female ascendant naturalizes involuntarily along with her husband
- In the US, women started being able to make autonomous decisions about their citizenship only with the approval of the “Cable Act” (Ch. 411, 42 Stat. 1021, “Married Women’s Independent Nationality Act“) on September 22, 1922.
- Before 1922, women in the US could neither acquire nor lose citizenship other than through their husband. In fact, prior to this date, women’s status followed that of the man they married. Women automatically acquired US citizenship via marriage when the husband was a US citizen.
- Based on the Italian Constitutional Court judgment no. 87 of 1975 and of the Italian Supreme Court judgment no. 4466 of 2009, women who acquired a foreign nationality “involuntarily and automatically” due to marriage retain their Italian citizenship, and they are therefore able to transmit it to their children.
- Therefore, an Italian woman who automatically acquired citizenship through her husband, according to the aforementioned decision, would not have lost her original Italian citizenship (as she did not willingly renounce it) and could validly transfer it to subsequent generations.
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