If you’ve clicked on this post, you’ve probably asked yourself the question “Do I qualify for Italian dual citizenship?”
The good news is that your grandparents may have passed down much more than just an awesome recipe for sauce. They may have actually passed down Italian dual citizenship to you!
But even if your Italian ancestry is more distant, you might still be eligible! As long as you can answer a few simple questions, you can determine whether or not you qualify.
In this post, I’ll walk you step by step through the process of qualifying. Since 2005, I’ve helped hundreds of people become Italian citizens –this is what I do day in and day out.
But first, I’ll explain what Italian dual citizenship actually is.
It’s really as simple as it sounds. Italian dual citizenship means having your native-born citizenship (such as US) and Italian citizenship at the same time. The United States and Italy both allow dual citizenship, so you’re free to hold passports from both countries. If you’d like to know more about traveling on an Italian passport, I have a nifty page here chock full of good tidbits of information.
Absolutely not. Our company helps people from all over the world qualify and apply for Italian dual citizenship. Australians can be Italian dual citizens. So can Canadians, Mexicans, Argentines, Brazilians, and anyone else born in a jure soli country. But don’t worry about that term just yet. I’ll explain it in the next two paragraphs.
Jure sanguinis is a Latin term meaning “by right of the blood.” This means that Italian citizenship is passed from parent to child. In other words, any child born to an Italian parent is automatically an Italian citizen.
Compare this system to the one that we have in the US, jure soli. In Latin, jure soli means “by right of the soil.” Therefore, anyone born in the United States is automatically an American citizen regardless of who his or her parents are. Conversely, this is not the case for Italian citizenship. Simply being born in Italy is not enough to be an Italian citizen. As we discussed above, you must have at least one Italian parent to be entitled to Italian citizenship at birth.
If you don’t have an Italian parent (but you have an Italian grandparent, great grandparent, or great great grandparent), you’re probably wondering “well, do I qualify for Italian dual citizenship or not?”
The good news is you probably do. Let me explain.
According to Italian law, Italian citizenship is passed down from one generation to another in a never-ending chain, as long as the chain is not broken and you meet all the requirements. And the only thing that could possibly break the chain is naturalization (becoming an American citizen).
So, if you have an Italian-born ancestor who was still an Italian citizen at the time of his or her child’s birth, you more than likely qualify through that Italian ancestor. Italian dual citizenship will have passed down from one generation to another, just waiting to be recognized. This is how people two, three, or even four generations removed from Italy qualify for Italian dual citizenship.
In fact, if you qualify you’ve actually been a citizen since birth. Going through the process of obtaining your citizenship is simply asking the Italian government to legalize a status you already possess.
As you can see, John above qualifies because there was an unbroken chain of Italian dual citizenship passed down from generation to generation. But what about someone who doesn’t qualify?
Unfortunately, Marie doesn’t qualify because Francesco’s naturalization before the birth of his child “breaks” the chain. Marie will have to figure out if she qualifies through another relative.
If you are eligible, this is your birthright! You do not need to pass any Italian language exam. In the same vein, if you qualify, you qualify… no matter how much (or how little) Italian heritage you have. The law is very clear on this.
Depending on your family situation, qualifying for an Italian passport can be as simple as we described above. However, there are other rules to keep in mind when answering the question “do I qualify for Italian dual citizenship?”
You’ll have to keep in mind the following factors before you can truly figure out your eligibility.
See if you can answer the below questions to figure out your eligibility.
If your Italian ancestor never became an American citizen, it’s almost certain that you qualify. As long as you meet the other established criteria (and can prove no naturalization occurred), you’re eligible.
Not to worry. There’s hope for you if you fall into this category!
Even though you don’t technically qualify under current Italian law, you can still apply. The reason is because since 2009, Italian courts have ruled the law barring women from passing down citizenship before 1948 unconstitutional. That means it can be challenged (and won) in court. Thousands of people have done this and continue to do this every year.
To do this, you must hire an Italian attorney (or a firm like ours) to represent you. The good news is that you do not need to be present in Italy. And even better, an unlimited number of family members can join your case at the same time.
For more information about these so-called 1948 cases, click here.
You’ll either have to apply at an Italian consulate in the country where you live or directly in Italy.
Essentially, Italy wants you to apply where you have your permanent residence. If that’s in the US, find the Italian consulate which services your location. If that’s in Italy, it’ll be at the comune (town) where you officially live.
In order to apply, you have to recreate your family tree. This involves various documents such as birth, death, marriage, and naturalization records.
You must obtain certified copies of the following vital records:
Additionally, all non-Italian documents must be translated into Italian. Finally, every non-Italian document must be legalized with an apostille.
Note: if you apply in Italy, you most likely will not need divorce records and death records. When you apply at a consulate, they will most likely require these records. Italian consulates have a lot of leeway over what documents they accept, so they may require more documentation than the ones stated above. Some consulates will require both direct line and non-direct line documents, i.e. if your Italian ancestor is your dad, they may also require your mom’s birth certificate.
It depends. It may take anywhere from 3-5 years to obtain a consular appointment (sometimes longer). Once your application is handed in, it can take up to 24 months for processing. If you apply in Italy, timeframes are drastically reduced and you can expect to be done with everything in 12 months or less (assuming everything goes right, of course!).
If you don’t qualify but still have Italian ancestry, there are other options for you.
Still confused and can’t answer the question, “do I qualify for Italian dual citizenship?” Not to worry. We can help! At Get Italian Citizenship, Inc., we’ve helped hundreds of clients obtain their Italian passports and we can help you too! Simply contact us today for assistance.