ICA: Applying for Italian citizenship as a family

May 21, 2022 398

If you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by descent you might spark the interest of some of your immediate and non-immediate family members who might also be eligible to apply. Indeed, sharing the journey to becoming an Italian citizen with your dear ones is an exciting opportunity and it is likely that you will find yourself wondering about a number of aspects related to applying.

For instance, will it be more cost-effective to apply for citizenship as a family compared to applying as an individual? What are the advantages of applying as a family? Will it be possible to share documents? It will be the aim of this article to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding applying for Italian citizenship by descent as a family.

However, before we dig deeper into the subject it is worth mentioning that the procedure to apply as a family and the costs related to this will greatly depend on the path to citizenship that you will be pursuing, and whether your family members will be able to pursue the same path as you. In fact, based on the eligibility criteria you meet, there are three main paths to applying for Italian citizenship by descent: by filing an application at an Italian consulate abroad, via a municipality in Italy and by petitioning an Italian court

Applying for Italian citizenship via an Italian consulate 

The first step to be able to apply for citizenship via an Italian consulate is to retrieve certified copies of your family’s vital records (i.e., birth, marriage, divorce and death records), starting from the ancestor who was born in Italy and who emigrated to the United States. Vital records from the U.S. can be retrieved from the departments of health, the county or the town in which the event was registered. On the other hand, vital records from Italy must be retrieved from the “stato civile” (the registry office) in the municipality where the event was registered. Once all the vital records have been obtained, including proof that your ancestor was naturalized or was never naturalized, they will need to be legalized with an Apostille and finally translated into Italian.

If any of your family members who share the same ancestor wish to join your application you will need to determine whether they can apply via the same consulate. The rule is that relatives residing under the same consular jurisdiction will be eligible to apply via the same consulate. Here is a list of Italian consulates and the respective jurisdictions in the U.S.

Relatives applying through the same consulate can share the expenses to retrieve the vital records needed for their applications as one set of documents pertaining to the ancestors in the Italian family line will need to be retrieved and submitted to the consulate.

This also applies if two family members have different appointments scheduled. This is because once a family member has submitted their application, the vital records pertaining to the individuals in the Italian lineage will remain on file and therefore, relatives applying at a later time will not need to retrieve another set of documents and will only need to provide the consulate with their own vital records (birth, marriage and divorce certificate, if applicable) and their minor children’s birth certificates. Having said this, it is always advisable to check the consulate’s requirements prior to applying. 

If there are family members residing under different consular jurisdictions, each one will need to retrieve a set of documents as consulates cannot share documents with one another. 

Please note: the laws regulating the transmission of citizenship changed throughout the twentieth century, therefore some of your relatives may not be eligible to apply via a consular case even if they claim citizenship via the same ancestor because they might have a female ascendant who might have given birth to her child prior to January 1st 1948, in which case the application must be filed via the court system. For more information click here.
Besides, every adult applicant will need to pay a citizenship application fee. However, children under the age of 18 will be automatically included in their parent’s citizenship application, and therefore they will not need to pay a separate consular fee. 

It is worth keeping in mind that any living intermediate ascendant (e.g. parent or grandparent) in the Italian lineage will not be granted Italian citizenship automatically but will need to apply separately, if interested in acquiring citizenship. However, for the descendants’ application to be approved, the living ascendants will need to sign a declaration stating that they never renounced their Italian citizenship before an Italian authority. For instance, if you claim citizenship via your paternal grandfather who was born in Italy you will need your father to sign the abovementioned declaration, but your father will not be granted Italian citizenship unless he applies for the recognition of citizenship. 

Applying for Italian citizenship via a municipality in Italy 

The main advantage of applying via a municipality in Italy is that the process will be faster compared to applying via a consulate. In other words, by law, consulates have a maximum of 2 years to process an application. On the other hand, the processing time if you apply via a municipality is generally around 3-9 months, depending on the municipality to which you apply. As with applying via a consulate, filing an application via a municipality entails retrieving certified copies of your family’s vital records including proof that your Italian ancestor was naturalized or was never naturalized. The records will then need to be authenticated with an apostille and the translations into Italian will need to be sworn in court. If all your relatives apply via the same municipality you will be able to share the vital records pertaining to the individuals in the Italian lineage. However, if you choose to apply through this path, please note that all applicants will need to be physically present in Italy throughout the entire application process. 

In order to file an application you will need to establish residency in the municipality where you intend to apply. The local police will then have 45 days to verify your residency status. Once your residency status has been confirmed you will be able to submit your application at the citizenship office in the municipality town hall. While the clerk assesses your application you will be issued a residency permit which allows you to remain in Italy until your application has been approved. Once you have been granted Italian citizenship, should you wish to remain in Italy, you will be able to apply for a passport through the local Questura (police headquarters). Alternatively, if you plan on returning to your home country you can apply for a passport at your local consulate after registering with the AIRE

Obtaining Italian Citizenship through the Italian Courts 

If you have a 1948 case you will not be able to file your application via an Italian consulate or via a municipality, rather, you will need to apply via the court system in Italy through a lawyer who will file your lawsuit on your behalf.  In other words, your presence in Italy is not required because you will sign a Power of Attorney which will allow a lawyer to represent you in court. If any of your family members are interested in obtaining Italian citizenship, it is advisable for them to join the same court case. This is due to the fact that when the judge rules in favor of the recognition of Italian citizenship, only the applicants in the direct line of descent who are named in the lawsuit will be granted Italian citizenship. In other words, if there are family members who wish to apply after the case has been closed they will need to file a new citizenship claim and they will also need to retrieve a new set of vital records. 

As with applying via a consulate and a municipality in Italy, judicial proceedings require that the applicants retrieve all the vital records pertaining to the individuals in the direct line of descent, including the Italian ancestor’s naturalization records (or proof that he/she was never naturalized). All the records must be duly authenticated with an apostille and the translations must be sworn in court. Although only one set of documents is needed, the number of records will influence the cost of the translations: the more records need to be translated, the more revenue stamps will be needed to certify them. On average, the total cost of certified translations for a lawsuit case lies between €200 and €500. Finally, a filing fee of €286 must be paid in order to file a lawsuit, regardless of the number of its petitioners. Once the judge rules in favour of the recognition of Italian citizenship the applicants will need to register the final judgment together with the vital records via the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where they reside. In this way, their vital records will be registered in the municipality where their ancestor was born and they will be able to apply for an Italian passport. 

Are you thinking of applying for Italian citizenship with your family but you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply? If you would like a free eligibility assessment or further information about the process to apply, do not hesitate to contact us at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or at +1 (951) 742 5830. 

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