1948 Case Services
If you descend from an Italian woman or have women in your line of citizenship you may have heard the term “1948 case.”
But what is a 1948 case, exactly?
It all stems from the way Italian citizenship law used to treat men and women differently. For a long time, 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.
In fact, an Italian woman could only give citizenship to her children under a few key exceptions:
- When the father was unknown, missing, or stateless,
- If the father’s own foreign citizenship would not pass on to the children automatically.
However, on January 1, 1948, the Italian government decided to change this rule. With the adoption of the modern Italian constitution, women were finally given the right to pass on citizenship to their children.
Even so, this law is not retroactive. That means that if you have a woman in your family who gave birth to her child before January 1, 1948, that child did not automatically gain citizenship. Only children born after January 1, 1948 obtained citizenship through their Italian moms.
Therefore, if you fall under this rule, you must appeal to the courts to establish your Italian dual citizenship. It might sound intimidating, but the process is not difficult at all.
Who falls under the 1948 case rule?
To determine if you’re in for a “1948 case” simply find all the women in your direct line. Then, check if those women had their child 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 through a consular application or directly in Italy.
- For example: if you were born in the US in 1960 to an American father born in 1938 to an Italian mother, you’re a 1948 case.
- Another example: if you were born in 1947 to an Italian mother, you must file a 1948 case. But if your sibling was born in 1949, they can apply directly at the consulate.
If you are a 1948 case, you can’t apply at the consulates. You also cannot apply in Italy. Instead, you must hire an Italian attorney to petition the Court of Rome on your 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. Since 2009 (the first ever 1948 case was brought to court in that year), they have become rather routine.
If you have a 1948 case, we can help.
- Certified, legalized copies of vital records for you, your intermediate ancestors, and your last Italian-born ancestor (full documentation suite).
- Legalized of your non Italian records into Italian.
- Your Italian ancestor’s naturalization records or proof of non-naturalization.
- Your actual 1948 case from start to finish, including power of attorney. All of our attorneys have at least 5 years of experience handling these administrative proceedings.
- Transcription of your birth records in Italy and enrollment in AIRE (Registry of Italians Abroad), conditions necessary for you to obtain an Italian passport.
Fees for full service start-to-finish 1948 cases with all documentation start at $6,500 for one generation removed, $8,500 for two generations removed, $10,500 for three generations removed, and $12,000 for four generations removed.
Frequently asked questions
No. You need only hire an Italian lawyer on your behalf, who will then act for you with power of attorney.
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. You cannot represent yourself.
The first thing we’ll do is send you genealogical intake form to fill out. Then, we’ll use the information you provided to procure the necessary documents for each family member. After that, the actual case starts.
How 1948 cases generally work
1948 claims are a “paper” proceeding: the judge will only look at your paperwork, with no other type of evidence or testimony (witnesses, experts, etc.) being admissible. As a matter of fact, the proceeding for a citizenship claim is a concise, tailor-made proceeding that most of the time ends with only one hearing in which the attorney and the judge go through the paperwork and track your ancestry. It’s kind of like a consular appointment, only it’s between your judge and your attorney.
Dual citizenship court proceedings start with a lawsuit filed at the Court of Rome. It contains the summons and all the paperwork gathered to prove that you are a descendant of an Italian ancestor. You are the plaintiff and the defendant is the Italian Ministry of the Interior.
Here are the following steps:
- The President of the Courthouse appoints the Court where your citizenship claim will be heard.
- A few months later a judge is appointed to deal with your case.
- The judge sets the date of the hearing by decree.
- Your attorney serves the summons and the decree to the Ministry of the Interior.
- The Ministry deadline to respond is 10 days before the date of appearance. The Ministry rarely responds to your citizenship claim and appears. The client does not need to appear and will be represented by his/her attorney.
At the hearing, the judge hears the case and checks the paperwork. If more documentation is needed, the judge adjourns the hearing. If the paperwork suffices to prove your ancestry, the judge closes the case and will rule on it through a Citizenship Ordinance.
To cut the Ministry deadline to appeal from 6 month to 1 month, your attorney serves the Citizenship Ordinance.
The Court serves the ordinance to public prosecutor who has 2 months to appeal (never does).
After all the deadlines have expired, your attorney will request the Court to issue a formal copy of the Citizenship Ordinance stating that it is IRREVOCABLE.
Once irrevocable, your attorney requests the Courthouse to release an executable Citizenship Ordinance, which your attorney serves to the administrative district (Comune) where you will be recorded as an Italian citizen.
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.
It applies in cases where an Italian father/spouse 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 naturalized Italian 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.