Italian Citizenship Frequently Asked Questions

by | May 18, 2021 | Italian Citizenship

What benefits come with dual Italian citizenship?

Italian Dual Citizenship comes with a great deal of benefits. First, you can live, work and / or retire in Italy at a third of the cost of living compared to the United States. Also, Italian Citizenship allows you to reside and work everywhere in the European Union. It’s like holding a EU passport. Of course getting hired being an Italian citizen it will be much easier as you will not need a visa or the residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). Last, but not least, you will have access to virtually free health care and education.

Is there any other way to retire in Italy indefinitely if I do not qualify for Italian citizenship?

If you do not qualify for Italian Citizenship, you might nonetheless retire in Italy if you can show a determined amount of recurring, passive income (like pensions, social security, rental, stocks etc.). For more information regarding the Italian elective residence, please check our article here.

Is dual citizenship allowed? Will I lose my citizenship?

Majority of countries allow to get a second citizenship, United States is one of them. If you become an Italian Citizen, you will not be required to give up your U.S. citizenship. Before starting your application for Italian Citizenship, you may want to check with your government if you are allowed to obtain an additional passport without renouncing your current one.

May I acquire Italian citizenship jure sanguinis  (by descent)?

Yes. If at least one of your ancestors is Italian and the citizenship chain has not been interrupted, most likely you will qualify for Italian citizenship.

When does Italian citizenship chain get interrupted?

When the first person in your family who moved to the United States (or your native country other than Italy) naturalized before giving birth to his / her children.

Where should I apply for Italian citizenship?

Typically you will apply at the Italian consulate with jurisdiction on the state where you reside. If you maintain residence in Italy for at least one year – and of course you meet the requirements for Italian Citizenship, you can apply in Italy.

I live in the United States, which Italian Consulate has jurisdiction over my Italian citizenship application?

There are 10 Italian Consulates in the United States, including the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. Each Consulate has jurisdiction over a certain number of States. The Italian Consulate in New York, for instance, maintains jurisdiction over the following states: New York, Connecticut, New Jersey (the following Counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, Warren) and the British Territories of Bermuda Islands. For a complete list of Italian Consulates in the United States and their jurisdictions please see here.

How long does it take to complete the process of obtaining Italian Citizenship?

Typically, one / one year and a half depending on the circumstances. During pandemic these timeframe has been dramatically extended and we are also experiencing suspensions of the appointments.

How do I make an appointment at the consulate?

You have to book via the portal Prenota on Line on the Italian Consulate website.

How does it work with making appointments at the Italian Consulates during COVID?

At the time of this article, Italian Consulates require you to book the appointment via Prenota Online, however you would not be able to show up in person. Instead, the exact day of the appointment, you will be required to mail your Italian citizenship application package to the Consulate, which will review your application and issue a determination. The foregoing is subject to change and hopefully soon will we go back to normality.

What supporting documents do I need to prove my Italian citizenship jure sanguinis?

In order for your Italian Citizenship application to be approved, you will need to show proof that the first ancestor that moved to the U.S. permanently was born in Italy, and that his / her child was born before he was naturalized. For this, you will need to procure all the relevant vital records starting from the first ancestor and of all the people down the line including the applicant. Relevant vital records are birth, death, marriage, divorce and naturalization or non-naturalization certificates. For more detailed information on the subject of Italian Citizenship by descent you can read our Article.

What are the requirements of the supporting documents?

Majority of the U.S. vital records will need to be long form, translated in Italian and “apostilled”. Long form certificates mean certificates bearing the most complete information. For example, a long form birth certificate should mention the name of the father and the mother.

Do I need Italian vital records?

Yes, you will need at least the birth certificate of the ancestor that first migrated to the United States. In addition, if other relevant events took place in Italy, such as marriage or death, you will also need to provide the corresponding certificates from Italy.

How far back can I go in my family line?

There is not limitation as to how far back you can go in your lineage to find an ancestor with Italian origins. However, keep in mind that a person passed away before 1861 cannot have transmitted Italian Citizenship because there was no State of Italy before such date.

What if my Italian ancestor never naturalized?

That is generally good news provided that at the time of the birth of his / children, he or she was still Italian and thus able to pass Italian Citizenship onto them. Proof of non-naturalization must be provided with three different certificates: USCIS, Census and National Archives.

What happens if one of my ancestors was a female?

Things may get tricky if the one of the ancestors along the line was a female and her direct descendant was born before 1948. According to an Italian citizenship law dating back to 1912, women could not pass Italian citizenship on to their children. Following the enactment of the Italian Constitution in 1948 the prior 1912 law became inapplicable to females born before 1948 but giving birth to children after such date. However, now, if you were born before 1948 from a female Italian citizen, you still need to file a petition in Italy to declare the 1912 law inapplicable to your case. For more detailed information on this topic, see our article: Italian Citizenship through Italian Born Female Ancestor.

Italian dual citizenship through marriage

Can I get Italian Citizenship if my spouse is Italian?

Yes you might but a few years of marriage need to pass before you can apply. Specifically, 3 years if you are living abroad and 2 years if you live in Italy. Terms are reduced by a half in case the couple has children.

Do I need to learn Italian to become an Italian Citizen?

If you apply for Italian Citizenship jure sanguinis you don’t need take and pass an Italian language test. However, if you apply as a spouse of an Italian citizen, you will be required to learn and get tested on your knowledge of the Italian language.

Additional Sources

For additional information you can read our posts:

How to get Italian Citizenship. The Path to Italian Citizenship.

Do You qualify for Italian Citizenship?

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