How to apply for Italian citizenship by descent

How to apply for Italian citizenship by descent

You can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if you can prove that you have an unbroken chain of Italian ascendants

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Thu 20 Apr 2023 10:22 AM

In previous articles we discussed the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (by descent) and how getting Italian citizenship can open the doors to the EU. In particular, you can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if you can prove that you have an unbroken chain of Italian ascendants. In other words, your ancestor who was born in Italy must not have renounced his Italian citizenship prior to his child’s birth, and none of your ascendants in your Italian lineage must have ever renounced their right to Italian citizenship.

If there is a woman in your Italian lineage her child must have been born after January 1, 1948, which is when Italy’s constitution came into effect, granting men and women equal rights. If your female ancestor gave birth to her child prior to that date, you can apply for Italian citizenship retroactively by filing a court case in Italy.

There are many advantages to applying for Italian citizenship, such as being able to access Italy’s high-quality universal healthcare system and affordable tuition fees, and Europe’s competitive real estate markets. Holding an Italian passport also means that if you travel to Italy, you will be able to stay there for as long as you wish. So, how can you apply? Below is a description of three pathways an individual with Italian ancestry might pursue in order to obtain Italian citizenship by descent.

Applying for Italian citizenship via an Italian consulate

Before we dig deeper into the application process to obtain Italian citizenship via an Italian consulate, it is worth pointing out that in order to apply you will need to collect all your family’s vital records, which comprise birth, marriage, divorce (if applicable) and death certificates, starting from the ancestor who was born in Italy and who emigrated abroad. You will also need your Italian ancestor’s naturalization records or proof that your ancestor was never naturalized. All the certified copies of the records issued in the long form or book copy will need to be authenticated with an Apostille and accompanied by a professional translation into Italian.

As for filing the application per se, you will need to book an appointment at the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside by registering with the consulate’s online booking system called Prenotami. For a complete list of consulates in the U.S. and their respective jurisdictions click here.

On the day of your appointment you will also need to provide the consulate with proof of residency and the fee for the consulate to process your request; this changes every three months but it is generally around €300. You will also need a valid form of ID and you will be required to sign a few consular forms declaring that neither you nor any of the individuals in your Italian lineage ever renounced Italian citizenship before an Italian authority. If you have minor children they will be automatically included in your application. On the other hand, if you have adult children or siblings, each adult applicant will need to submit their application. However, please note that if you apply via different consulates, each consulate will require a set of vital records pertaining to all the individuals in your Italian lineage. On the other hand, if you apply via the same consulate, you will all be able to share the documents that prove your eligibility to apply for Italian citizenship.

Once you submit your application you will need to allow the necessary time for it to be processed. By law, consulates have up to 24 months to process an application. Finally, once you are recognized as an Italian citizen you will be registered with the A.I.R.E., the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad. This process normally takes a few weeks to a couple of months to be completed, and once you are registered with the A.I.R.E. you will be able to apply for a passport.

Applying for Italian citizenship via a municipality in Italy

Applying for citizenship in Italy is generally faster compared to applying via an Italian consulate. This is due to the fact that fewer documents are required; in fact, as a general rule, Italian municipalities only require the documents pertaining to the individuals who are in the applicant’s Italian lineage. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, consulates have up to two years, by law, to assess a citizenship application; on the other hand, the process in Italy only takes a couple of months although this may vary depending on the municipality where you file your application.

If you would like to apply for citizenship in Italy, you will need to establish your residency in the municipality where you decide to file your application. Once your residency status has been confirmed by the local police, you can book an appointment at the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall.

As for the application process, you will need to submit all your family’s vital records with Apostilles and certified translations into Italian. Please bear in mind that it is advisable to contact the municipality to which you will be applying prior to travelling to Italy in order to make sure that you have all the required documentation. After you apply, you will be issued a specific residency permit (permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza), which will allow you to stay in Italy while your application is being processed.

Finally, once you are recognized as an Italian citizen you can apply for a passport via the local police headquarters (Questura). On the other hand, if you decide to travel back to your home country, you will need to register with the A.I.R.E. and apply for a passport at the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside.

Applying for Italian citizenship via a court in Italy

If you have a 1948 case, in order to file your application you will need to grant a lawyer a Power of Attorney in order for him/her to file the lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court. In other words, you do not need to travel to Italy to attend the hearing as the lawyer will take care of assembling all of your family’s vital records and preparing the arguments to defend your legal right to Italian citizenship by descent.  

Once your lawsuit has been filed, a judge will be assigned to your case and he/she will schedule the first hearing. If your application is complete, in most cases the judge will decide whether to grant or deny your claim to citizenship on the same day the hearing is held.  If the case is won, the attorney representing you will need to wait 60 days for the judge’s decision to become final and for the court to issue the final judgment. This document will then need to be registered at the municipality in Italy which holds your Italian ancestor’s birth certificate, together with your vital records (birth, marriage and divorce certificates, if applicable).

Once the municipality has filed these documents you will be registered with the A.I.R.E.; if you reside abroad you will need to apply for a passport at your local Italian consulate, whereas if you reside in Italy you will need to apply at the local police headquarters (Questura).

If you are considering applying for Italian citizenship by descent and you would like a free assessment, please do not hesitate to contact ICA at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com. For further details, please visit italiancitizenshipassistance.com.

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