Reclaiming your ancestral Italian citizenship is a bit of an opera. Overall, it’s a gorgeous, sweet, noble experience ripe with beautiful melodies, duets, ensembles and trumpets. Yet there are potential plot twists and difficult, thrilling high notes to consider. Wanna know how to acquire dual citizenship, honor your bloodline and then take a well deserved bow? Find the answers below.
O Patria Mia
Thanks to your good luck, your Italian ancestry entitles you to dual Italian and American citizenship. You earned this by jure sanguinis, the right of blood, occasionally referenced in its Latin form jus sanguinis. That’s right, amico, you only had to be born to earn this right.
There are some circumstances in which your distant Italian ancestral birthright does not guarantee contemporary citizenship by jure sanguinis. In any case there is a ton of paperwork. Let’s examine
- General rules
- Documents you might require
- and Fees
O Mio Babbino Caro
As a general rule, you can only claim Italian dual citizenship via jure sanguinis if your ancestors were still Italian citizens when you were born. For example, if your parents emigrated from Italy to the United States 10 years ago, promptly renounced their Italian citizenship and had you, then jure sanguinis does not apply to you.
If your parents emigrated from Italy to the United States 10 years ago, had you and renounced their Italian citizenship only after your birth, then jure sanguinis applies to you.
Further, if you were born before 1948, then only your paternal Italian ancestry makes you eligible to claim Italian citizenship via jure sanguinis. This is because the law did not grant Italian women the right to transmit their citizenship to their children until 1948. Even so, the general rule still applies if you’re attempting to claim Italian citizenship through your father’s side. Capisce?
If your most recent Italian born ancestors emigrated prior to July 1, 1912, then you are not eligible for Italian dual citizenship via jure sanguinis. Any Italians who emigrated prior to this date immediately lost their Italian citizenship, as did their heirs, perpetually. You would need to apply for Italian citizenship as a non-EU citizen, which eventually requires you to renounce your American citizenship.
You May Pledge Allegiance to Multiple Flags
There is a catch to the above general rule, which works in your favor. Native Italians who emigrated to the United States often became U.S. Citizens without renouncing their Italian citizenship. The U.S. does not require its émigrés to renounce their homeland citizenship.
Consequently, you might still be eligible to reclaim your Italian citizenship via jure sanguinis despite being a third or fourth generation American of Italian descent. You only have to demonstrate that you have Italian ancestor who became naturalized U.S. citizens but never renounced their Italian citizenship and still had a legal right to it.
The Plot Thickens Like All Day Sauce
The stack of documents you need for your application packet varies. It depends on the nature of your ancestral Italian lineage, the nationality laws that were in place when you were born, and whether or nor your naturalized American ancestors renounced their Italian citizenship.
First, collect and list the birth years of every relative in the direct line between your Italian born ancestor and you. Second, compile a list of dates when each of your ancestors who emigrated became naturalized citizens of the United States.
To obtain dates of naturalization, ask living family members who might know, or consult certificates of naturalization. You’ll need copies of these certificates for your application packet anyway. Ask any living family members if they possess certificates of naturalization for your common ancestors.
If none of your family members possess certificates of naturalization for your common ancestors, you may obtain them through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Download, print, complete and mail document g-639 to the address given in the document’s instructions
If there is no record with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, consult the National Archives for any copies of the Oath of Allegiance and Petition for Naturalization that one or more of your ancestors completed.
The Story of Your Family
The following list includes most of the documents you might require to obtain Italian dual citizenship via jure sanguinis. (Naturally, the list skips from 16 to 18.) As mentioned above, the specific documents you require depend on the unique lineage and family members through which you acquire your right to Italian dual citizenship by right of blood.
- 1. Great Grandfather’s Birth Certificate
- 2. Great Grandmother’s Birth Certificate
- 3. Great Grandfather’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 4. Great Grandmother’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 5. Great Grandparents’ Marriage Certificate
- 6. Great Grandfather’s Death Certificate
- 7. Great Grandmother’s Death Certificate
- 8. Grandfather’s Birth Certificate
- 9. Grandmother’s Birth Certificate
- 10. Grandfather’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 11. Grandmother’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 12. Grandparents’ Marriage Certificate
- 13. Grandfather’s Death Certificate
- 14. Grandmother’s Death Certificate
- 15. Father’s Birth Certificate
- 16. Mother’s Birth Certificate
- 18. Father’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 19. Mother’s Certificate of Naturalization
- 20. Parents’ Marriage Certificate
- 21. Father’s Death Certificate
- 22. Mother’s Death Certificate
- 23. Applicant’s Birth Certificate
- 24. Applicant’s Marriage Certificate
- 25. Spouse’s Birth Certificate
- 26. Applicant’s Final Divorce Decree
- 27. Birth Certificates for all children under 18 years
- 28. Declaration of Applicant
- 29. Declaration of Living Ascendant Born Outside of Italy
- 30. Declaration of Deceased Ascendant
There is a wonderful list of qualifications that clarifies exactly which documents you need based on your relationship to your Italian ancestor and everyone in between. Some documents require an apostille and translation into Italian.
There is a strong possibility you’ll have to request certain certificates from Italy, such as birth or marriage. You can do this yourself or pay a specialist to do it. The process entails submitting the full name of the Italian ancestor, a date or approximate date range of the event, such as birth, marriage or death, and the town or city where the event transpired.
The request must be sent to the appropriate city’s official archives or Registrar of Vital Records (Ufficio dello Stato Civile). Response times vary between six to eight weeks. DIY fees are as little as $20 to $40. The U.S. Embassy has Italian/English versions of certificate requests on its website.
Prepare and Check Your Packet of Documents
Sift through all your documents in search of discrepancies and errors. Check, re-check, and re-check again. Any differences in dates, names, unclear documents, poor translations, etc., can result in the consul rejecting your packet. Which means you’ll have to schedule a new appointment.
Bear in mind that your stack of documents should include several documents that attest to your citizenship and marital status, such as your birth certificate and marriage certificate. Replacement fees for these documents vary depending on the state you live in and the service you use to request them.
Be sure you have any English-language documents translated into Italian replete with apostilles. More than likely, you’ll need to have your Application for Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis translated into Italian. The Italian embassy in Washington DC has PDF copies in English.
Visit the website of your local Italian consulate general. Rather like Italy’s various regions, each consulate has a specific way of overseeing the application process. Each website is also a fount of relevant information, instructions, additional forms you may require (yeah!) and lists of recommended professional translators.
Create a cover letter for your application packet, and schedule an appointment to visit your local Italian consul. You will need to sign certain forms at the consul per the consul’s requirements. As of mid 2017, the fee for a application for citizenship jure sanguinis is $319.40, and the consul only accepts money orders.
The fee in U.S. dollars potentially changes every trimester, so check your consul’s website before raiding any piggy banks. Your total fees depend largely on the number of documents you require, and this depends on the number of relevant ancestors in the direct line between you and your Italian born ancestor.
In your application packet cover letter, specify the city hall or comune in Italy where you desire your registration of your civil status documents. Arrange the order of your packet as follows:
- Cover letter
- Application for Italian Citizenship jure sanguinis (with notarization)
- Declaration of Applicant (with notarization)
- Declaration of Living Ascendant Born Outside of Italy (with notarization)
- Declaration of Deceased Ascendant (with notarization)
- Photocopy of a valid ID showing your current address
- Your birth certificate with apostille or legalization
- Italian translation of your birth certificate
- Ancestors’ certificates starting with Italian-born ancestor and continuing chronologically
Photocopy everything in your application packet twice, and reserve one hard copy in a safe place. Feel free to scan your entire packet into a digital format and keep it handy on a USB flash drive of backed up in a secure cloud.
Perfect Time For A Passeggiata… Or Several
Some consuls allow you to mail your application packet, while others require you to deliver it in person. Since one or more appointments at the consulate are a requirement, and considering all the fastidious sleuthing and preparation you have to do, you may as well deliver the packet in person.
Reward yourself afterward with a glass of chianti or a gelato. You sure deserve it. Clutch your patron saint’s pendant and sit tight. Scoring citizenship via jure sanguinis can take up to one whole year. Ciao!
About the Author:
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Documents International LLC, a leading apostille service for individuals and businesses.