Italian dual citizenship attorney

The Dream of Getting Italian Citizenship

Picture it.

You just found out that you’re eligible for Italian dual citizenship. How exciting!

Suddenly, you imagine yourself drinking a cappuccino in a beautiful piazza. Or driving a red Ferrari down the winding, hilly backroads of Tuscany. What’s more, your Italian heritage will give you access to the entire European Union. Life will be simply beautiful with your new Italian passport.

You’re sold.

In fact, you’re so excited that you’ve already practically packed your bags. Goodbye United States, hello Italy!

But then a thought stops you: how do you actually get Italian citizenship, anyway? And why does it seem so complicated? Can’t you just hire an Italian dual citizenship attorney to help you?

Well, I’m here to tell you that may not be necessary. Depending on your situation, you may be able to DIY it (or, maybe not—but we’ll go through all that together).

When You Might Need a Little Extra Help

Getting Italian citizenship can be a huge bureaucratic headache.

There’s a ton of paperwork involved. First you have to track down ancient documents. Then, you get everything translated and apostilled. Finally, you put together the massive application packet.

It’s an exercise in patience, enough to drive even the most organized person crazy.

What’s more, one little mistake and you could face delays. Or worse, outright rejection.

So, what’s a potential applicant to do? DIY it, potentially risking rejection or seek expensive but certain outside assistance?

Well, the good news is most people won’t need a lawyer. The majority of applications are pretty straight forward. Even if the paperwork process is tedious, it’s not necessarily difficult… just time-consuming.

But, some situations are extra complicated when trying to get Italian citizenship. In cases like these, it might be worth hiring an experienced Italian citizenship lawyer. Let’s explore them below.

Adoption Cases

Adoption cases can be tricky. If you were adopted and you are trying to claim Italian citizenship jus sanguinis through your biological Italian ancestors, the paperwork requirements can get very confusing. A lawyer can help guide you.

Missing Records 

Sometimes you can’t find key documents like your grandparents’ birth certificates. A lawyer may be able to get those missing records through special legal channels. He or she may even be able to have missing or incomplete records recreated from scratch.

Ancestry Disputes

There could be questions about whether your ancestor was actually Italian or whether your family records are fully accurate. A lawyer can investigate this.

Rejected Applications

In the case of a rejection, it might help to hire a lawyer. He or she can help you re-submit or manage the appeals process.

1948 Cases

You will have to hire an Italian citizenship attorney if you are a “1948 case.” Let me explain.

Before January 1, 1948, Italian women couldn’t pass on citizenship to their children. There were very few exceptions. A woman could only pass on citizenship if any of the following applied:

  1. The father was unknown, missing, or stateless.
  2. The father’s own (foreign) citizenship didn’t pass on to the children.

That’s it. In every other case, a child could only get citizenship from the father. Legally, it’s as if the Italian mother did not exist.

Unfair, right?


Thankfully, in 2009 this all changed. A group of people sued the Italian government. The idea was that this “1948 rule” was unfair to Italian women and their descendants. Especially in the face of the Italian constitution, which promises equality of the sexes.

And do you know what happened? They won. This was a landmark court case which changed the Italian citizenship world forever.

Since that day, anyone who falls under the “1948 rule” can get Italian dual citizenship.

But the law itself has not been changed retroactively. So, you cannot apply through the “normal” channels (e.g. the consulate or in Italy) like everyone else. Instead, you have to hire an Italian attorney. This attorney will petition the courts on your behalf.

Consular Appointment Issues

What happens when you try but fail to get a consular appointment?

You might need an Italian attorney.

Italian law is very clear on the matter. When you submit an application for Italian citizenship, the government has 730 days (about 2 years) to give you a final decision. This 730-day time limit comes from Law No. 241 from 1990.

If a consulate doesn’t offer appointments to prospective applicants, that’s considered a violation of Law No. 241.

Similarly, if a consulate takes longer than 730 days to process your application after you submit it, it’s also a violation.

In other words, if a consulate cannot issue you a decision within 730 days, they’re violating your rights. Hence, the denial of justice.

These “denial of justice” cases have been common in South America for over 10 years where Italian citizenship appointments are very hard to get.

Now, North Americans are starting to file these cases too. As applying for Italian dual citizenship becomes more popular and appointments become limited, these cases may become more common in the future.

When You Can Get Italian Citizenship Without an Attorney

Generally, you don’t need an attorney when your case is straightforward. You also don’t need an attorney when the documentation proving your claim is easy to find. Some states like Massachusetts have excellent record-keeping that makes it easy. Others like New York can be difficult, with arcane and restrictive privacy laws.

Either way, your consulate will have updated, specific instructions on their website. This will become your guide! Use it to compile your materials. Follow the instructions and you should be fine.

Beyond that, there are great online resources that explain each step of the Italian citizenship process. As long as you are organized and patient, you can likely handle it yourself. Just be extremely careful to:

  • Get every document properly translated to Italian
  • Get every document apostilled with the official stamps and certifications
  • Fill out all the application forms 100% correctly 
  • Compile the complete application packet as required

Taking this “do-it-yourself” approach can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees if your case is simple. But it requires a lot of time and meticulous attention to detail on your part.

What to Expect If You Seek Outside Help

If you decide that handling the Italian citizenship process yourself seems too difficult and risky, you can hire an Italian dual citizenship attorney you.

Here’s what to expect:


Hiring an Italian dual citizenship attorney doesn’t come cheap.

You will likely have to pay between $5,000 – $15,000 or more for their legal services from start to finish. For some people though, this money is worth it for the peace of mind.


A good Italian citizenship lawyer should keep you updated throughout the whole process. At the beginning, they will discuss your family situation and explain exactly what documents you need. As your case moves forward, they should continue communicating the status.

However, clients must manage their expectations when dealing with an Italian attorney.

Italian customer service can be more lax. An Italian attorney may not respond as quickly as an American one. Also, their responses may not be as exhaustive.

Treat it like your first introduction to being Italian and roll with it!


Unfortunately, even with a lawyer’s help, obtaining Italian citizenship is a very slow process. From the day you start to final approval, it will likely take between 12-24 months at a minimum. However, a lawyer can try to prevent delays caused by missing information in your paperwork.


The main reason to hire a lawyer is for their expertise.

People hire them because they know all the latest rules, required forms, and specific processes like the back of their hand. They have experience submitting hundreds of successful citizenship cases already.

A good lawyer maximizes your chances of getting approved while minimizing costly mistakes.

The DIY Path

Of course, hiring an Italian dual citizenship attorney is expensive. Many people cannot afford those high legal fees.

That’s okay!

Every year, tens of thousands of people of Italian ancestry are able to obtain dual citizenship by doing it themselves without a lawyer. 

If you want to get Italian citizenship on your own, here are some tips:

  • Study and understand all the requirements thoroughly 
  • Give yourself lots of extra time to gather required documents and get translations
  • Be extremely careful and precise when filling out forms and compiling documents 
  • Be patient and prepared for delays and issues with the Italian bureaucracy

At the end of the day, the choice is yours: hire an Italian citizenship lawyer or go the do-it-yourself route.

Having an expert lawyer guide you gives peace of mind, but costs a lot. The DIY path is much cheaper but requires more of your own effort.

Whichever way you decide, stick with it and you can get that Italian dual citizenship! Then you’ll be able to live out your dreams of la dolce vita in beautiful Italy. Good luck!