The Italian Dual Citizenship Process: Background Info
In Italy, citizenship law is based on the principle of jure sanguinis. In our industry, the terms “Italian dual citizenship” and “Italian citizenship jure sanguinis” are interchangeable and both mean the same thing.
Jure sanguinis is a Latin term meaning “by right of blood.” Therefore, Italian citizenship is passed down by right of blood or from parent to child.
Italian citizenship follows different rules than American citizenship. In America, citizenship follows the principle of jure soli (notice the difference). This particular Latin term means “by right of soil.”
So, to recap: while Italian citizenship is passed from parent to child, American citizenship is given to anyone born in the United States. Therefore, the two systems work in different ways.
Article 7 of Law no. 555 of 1912
This is the grand-daddy of all Italian citizenship laws. We use it to determine eligibility, even to this day.
According to Article 7 of this law, any child born in a jure soli country to an Italian citizen parent automatically obtains Italian citizenship at birth. That child can even keep his or her Italian citizenship after his or her parent naturalizes, as long as the parent was still an Italian citizen at the time of the child’s birth. In other words, the child’s citizenship will survive even after the parent loses it! Cool, right?
Article 7 works because jure soli citizenship and jure sanguinis citizenship do not conflict. Jure sanguinis is passed down from parent to child, while jure soli is automatic depending on where the child was born.
That is why Italian and American laws fit neatly together in terms of citizenship. Because of the above Article 7, an American of Italian descent born in the United States can be both an American citizen jure soli and an Italian citizen jure sanguinis at birth at the same time.
What’s even more interesting is that Italian dual citizenship is passed down indefinitely without limit to generation. All that matters is one of your ancestors successfully received both U.S. and Italian citizenship at birth in order to pass it down to you.
Two Important Ways to Prove Eligibility
When working through the Italian dual citizenship process, the first step is to prove eligibility. There are two concepts to keep in mind (you may read more about qualifying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis here):
1. You must prove you are the descendant of a qualifying Italian citizen; and
2. You must prove there was no interruption of citizenship (no naturalizations causing loss of Italian citizenship before the birth of a child).
To read more about the documents you’ll need, check this post.
The Italian Dual Citizenship Process from Start to Finish
First, identify your last Italian-born ancestor. Then, work backwards to you without skipping any generation.
- Before doing anything else, find your ancestor’s naturalization record. There are three places to search: USCIS, NARA, and the local county clerk in the county where she or he lived.
- Some people get lucky and already have their ancestor’s naturalization records. When I started my own Italian dual citizenship process, my grandfather’s 1944 naturalization certificate was hanging on the wall!
Next, consult your consulate’s website. Each consulate is different and will have different rules for gathering documents.
- Consulate websites are bilingual and sometimes the English version is lacking. Try to navigate the Italian version of the website as it will be most complete. When in doubt, use Google Translate for a term you don’t understand.
- Some consulates like New York have a very handy checklist to work off of. Print it out and use it.
Then, continue to work backwards from your last Italian-born ancestor to you, making sure not to skip any generation.
Obtaining recognition of your Italian dual citizenship is a marathon, and not a sprint. You’ll have to track down documents and compile them, but the feeling of having everything in hand is magical! The nature of applying for Italian dual citizenship means you’ll probably learn a lot more about your family’s history. You may have to consult passenger arrival records, census records, and birth, marriage, and death certificates you have never seen before.
A typical Italian dual citizenship application will include:
- Your Italian ancestor’s birth, marriage, and death certificates
- All birth, marriage, and death records for your intermediate ancestors
- Your birth and marriage certificates
- Naturalization records or proof of no naturalization
- You may also need divorce records, name change documents, or records for your non-direct line ancestors depending on the consulate
Additionally, you’ll also need to legalize your documents with an apostille and have them translated into Italian.
The Consular Appointment
Once you have a completed packet of documents, you can make your appointment at the consulate. The consular worker will go over everything with you. If anything is missing or needs to be corrected, they will tell you and give you some time to come back and get everything done.
If everything is good, you’ll get a receipt and will begin the process of waiting!
After you are recognized, your birth and marriage records will be transcribed in your ancestral hometown in Italy. Then, you can enroll in AIRE (Registry of Italians Living Abroad) and obtain your passport. And that’s it–you’re an Italian citizen!
Are you going through the Italian dual citizenship process and need some professional help? Not to worry! With over 10 years of industry experience, Get Italian Citizenship can help guide you step by step or even put together a completed application on your behalf. Contact us today for more details!