One of the things that client asks me most is: how long does it take to get Italian citizenship? The truth is—like with many things Italian—that answer is not as easy as it seems!
Therefore it’s no surprise that when it comes to Italian citizenship, there are a ton of variables. Many of these variables are not under your control, either. You may have done everything right and still find yourself waiting for a decision that’s out of your hands. But while it is frustrating, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process.
In this post, I’ll explain everything that goes into becoming an Italian citizen by descent and finally answer the question, how long does it take to get Italian citizenship?
The first thing you need to do is figure out if you’re eligible! You can’t apply for recognition of Italian citizenship unless you’re actually entitled to it. So, this is the first step for everyone, no matter how many generations removed you are from your Italian ancestor.
Some people get lucky and know if they qualify right away. Others might have an idea they qualify and know the information they need to find out. Finally, others will have very little idea of their Italian ancestors’ names, dates of birth, and places of birth… and will need to do some digging.
This step may take some time because you’ll have to dig up old records and/or locate new copies if you don’t have them. You’ll be spending most of your time obtaining naturalization records from USCIS, NARA, and your local county clerks’ offices.
About a year ago, USCIS had a backlog of 12+ months! But things have gotten much better. Now, these timeframes can vary but it usually only takes a few months to get the naturalization records you need and determine eligibility.
Total time: A few months.
This is the meat and potatoes of your application. During this phase, you’ll gather all the birth, marriage, death, and other records you’ll need for your Italian dual citizenship application. This is when the question “how long does it take to get Italian citizenship?” starts to become clearer.
Timeframes will vary depending on the states which hold your records. Some states are very quick and have turnaround times of mere days.
Others like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania can have you waiting months. Right now (August 2019) New York is facing a huge backlog of requests from New Yorkers around the country for their vital records in order to comply with new Real ID laws. These are things that you have to anticipate and are unfortunately out of your control.
Total time: Days to months.
Translations shouldn’t take too long. If you hire a professional, you could potentially have yours done within two weeks or sooner.
Apostilles as well shouldn’t take too long. Most states will issue them and return them to you within weeks.
Total time: A few weeks.
This is likely going to be the longest wait.
Currently, each Italian consulate processes roughly 2,500 applications yearly. If you do the math, that’s 25,000 applications a year (there are 10 Italian consulates in the United States).
Now, consider that on top of all these applications consulates must help Italian citizens in trouble, issue visas, repatriate remains, etc. Consular workers are overworked, and Italian consulates are chronically understaffed.
Therefore, each consulate puts out a certain number of applications at any time to limit the flow of applicants. Depending on your consulate, it may take you up to 10 years just for your application to be seen. However, there are some consulates which will see you in one year or less.
In Argentina and Brazil, people routinely wait 15 or even 20 years for an appointment. So, the motto here is: sit back, relax, and keep refreshing the calendar to see if new appointments open up!
Total time: Up to 10 years.
Once you go to your Italian dual citizenship appointment and hand everything in, you’ll have to wait for processing. A whole bunch of things happen here, such as:
The consulate starts a file for you, and double checks to make sure you’re eligible.
Once they check your eligibility again, the consular officer prepares an official statement explaining your path to eligibility.
The consulate will check to make sure neither you, nor your family members have renounced their right to Italian citizenship.
The consul general will sign your citizenship into effect.
This portion of the process can take anywhere from 1-2 years. Remember that consulates are busy and have to juggle many things on a daily basis! Just be patient and they’ll get to you.
Total time: Up to 2 years.
Once you’re a citizen, your consulate may request you wait a little while before obtaining a passport appointment. Usually, however, you can obtain your passport within 6-8 weeks after you are recognized.
Total time: 6 to 8 weeks.
Now that you know all the variables that go into your application for Italian dual citizenship, you have a better idea of how long the process takes.
While many of these steps rely on factors outside of your control, there are ways to speed up the process, such as:
All in all, you may be looking at a few years to obtain Italian dual citizenship at a minimum. Remember that this process is a multi-stepped on, where you must figure out eligibility, obtain required documents, attend your citizenship appointment, and wait for recognition. Therefore, obtaining Italian dual citizenship is not an automatic process and there is always a wait involved.
Want to apply for recognition of your birthright as an Italian citizen? Or perhaps you have some questions and want to speak to the experts? Reach out to us anytime for more information. We’re glad to help!