There are 17 million people of Italian origin living in the United States alone. By sheer coincidence, the vast majority of them qualify for Italian citizenship for Americans. And without even knowing it, you may be one of them. According to Italian law, if you qualify for Italian citizenship by descent, you have actually been an Italian citizen since birth. It’s just a matter of getting Italy to formally recognize you as one.
The Legal Background
Italian Law no. 555 of 1912 states that any child born to an Italian citizen parent is he himself a citizen. It also states that there is no limit to generations and that each single generation passes it on. Therefore, once a child is born to an Italian parent, that child is not only an Italian citizen automatically, but he or she also passes down that Italian citizenship to their child. Yes, even without knowing it and even without formally requesting recognition. Rinse and repeat for each generation.
In other words, Italian citizenship by descent gets passed down from generation to generation just waiting to be recognized. Even if you never get your Italian citizenship formally recognized, Italy still considers you a citizen – just one waiting for recognition.
How to Apply
In order to apply for Italian citizenship for Americans, you must do two things:
- Prove your claim to citizenship…
- … By reconstructing your family tree
You do this by collecting various vital records (birth, marriage, death, naturalization, etc.), translating them, legalizing them, and handing them in to the competent Italian authority. Applicants can seek recognition at their local Italian consulate or directly in Italy.
Italian law states you must apply where you have residency. Therefore, if you are living in the United States you apply at your local consulate of jurisdiction. If you are living in Italy, you apply at the comune (town) where you live.
Where to Apply
According to Italian Circolare k. 28 del 1991, you can seek recognition of Italian dual citizenship either at your local consulate or directly in Italy. Here is a list of Italian consulates in the United States. But pay special attention to this list: you may find you have a consulate that is physically close to you, but you are under the actual jurisdiction of another one.
Our firm is knowledgeable about both types of applications (in Italy or at your consulate), so please contact us for more information.
What Are the Requirements for Italian Citizenship for Americans?
In order to be eligible for Italian citizenship for Americans, you need to meet the following requirements:
Your Italian ancestor:
- Must have been alive, anywhere in the world and not yet a citizen of another country, on March 17, 1861. Before this date, there was no such thing as Italian citizenship because Italy itself wasn’t yet a country.
- Must have either never naturalized as a citizen of another country or naturalized both after July 1, 1912 and after the birth of his or her child.
You and your intermediate ancestors:
- Must never have renounced your right to obtain Italian dual citizenship.
There are special rules governing female Italian ancestors and Italian citizenship via maternal ancestry, which we cover here.
What Does Becoming an Italian Citizen Involve?
Before you can do anything else, you must determine eligibility for Italian dual citizenship. This involves finding your Italian-born ancestor’s naturalization and birth records. Then you work backwards all the way to you, making sure not to skip any generations.
Then, you must gather all the documents needed for Italian citizenship. Depending on where you apply – consulate vs. Italy – this list may vary. The general list of documents can be found in Italian by consulting Circolare k. 28 del 1991.
Filing the Italian citizenship application
After gathering everything, you file your application either in Italy or at your local Italian consulate, then wait for recognition.
AIRE and your passport
Once you are recognized, you must either enroll in AIRE (Registry of Italians Abroad) to obtain your passport if living outside Italy, or you can then obtain your passport from your local police precinct (questura) if living in Italy.
How Can You Help with Italian Citizenship for Americans?
Our company offers a suite of services for those seeking Italian citizenship for Americans. Hire us to help you determine eligibility for Italian dual citizenship, gather a professionally-prepared Italian citizenship application, obtain court orders to release or amend records, or even apply in Italy.
With hundreds of clients helped since 2005, we are the industry leader in Italian dual citizenship.