ICA: Applying for Italian citizenship in Italy

Jan 22, 2022 1205

In many of our articles published last year we provided extensive information on the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship, the documents needed to apply, and the application process via an Italian consulate abroad or via a judicial proceeding for 1948 cases. This article instead will provide you with information regarding applying for Italian citizenship by descent in Italy.

One of the main benefits of applying in Italy is that the process can be faster to complete compared to applying via a consulate in the US. In most cases, individuals who apply in Italy are already living in Italy or are planning to relocate there. However, there are also a number of people who decide to travel to Italy to visit their ancestors’ hometowns and apply for the recognition of their Italian citizenship there without committing to living in Italy long term.

When you decide to apply for citizenship by descent in Italy you can decide which municipality to apply to. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that not every comune (“municipality”) is familiar with applications for Italian citizenship by descent and that each comune may apply slightly different rules when processing applications for citizenship. Having said this, in order to apply you will need to collect your family’s vital records. More specifically, you will need certified copies of your family’s birth, marriage, divorce (if applicable) and death certificates and proof that the ancestor through whom you are claiming citizenship was naturalized or was never naturalized. Please note that it is also important to retrieve certified copies of marriage licenses or applications as the town clerk in the municipality you are applying to might need to see the registrant’s parents’ names to verify the applicant’s Italian lineage. On the other hand, final judgments of divorces can be retrieved from the court in which the divorce was filed. Please note that you will also need a Certificate of No Appeal or a case summary to prove that no appeal was filed after the final judgment.

In order to apply for citizenship by descent you must also retrieve the naturalization records pertaining to the Italian ancestor through whom you are claiming citizenship or proof that the ancestor was never naturalized. These documents can be retrieved from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) which hold government and historical records, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the county in which naturalization took place. On the other hand, if your ancestor was never naturalized you will need to prove this by providing the Italian authorities with a Certificate of Non-Existence of Records that certifies that no naturalization record was found pertaining to your ancestor. Finally, your ancestor’s vital records from Italy can be retrieved from the registry office (“stato civile”) of the Italian municipality in which the event occurred. If your ancestor’s name was misspelled when he or she moved to the United States, or if the Italian name was changed into the English version (e.g. Giovanni – John; Filippo – Philip; Maria – Mary) you can also request a specific certificate from the municipality which is known as certificato di esatte generalità, which certifies that your ancestor was the only individual born with that specific name and on that specific day.

Once all the records have been retrieved they will need to be authenticated with Apostilles by the Secretary of State or by the U.S. Department of State (for federal documents), and they will also need to be translated into Italian. Please bear in mind that in order to apply to a municipality in Italy translations of all vital records will need to be certified in court in Italy.

Once you arrive in Italy you will need to formally establish residency in a municipality with the purpose of applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. In particular, you will need an accommodation where you can legally establish residency. A hotel or Airbnb are generally not suitable accommodations to establish residency. Most municipalities generally require a lease agreement, a letter of hospitality or a deed indicating that you own the property where you are staying. If you are flying from a non-European country directly into Italy your passport will be stamped upon arrival in Italy. On the other hand, if you are flying into another EU country first, your passport will be stamped in the first EU country of arrival and will not be stamped in Italy. In this case, upon arrival in Italy, you will need to submit a “dichiarazione di presenza” (“declaration of presence”) to let the Italian government know when you have arrived. This is accomplished by submitting an official statement to the local immigration office within 8 days from your arrival.

The local police will then verify that you are living in the property where you established your residency. By law, they will have up to 45 days to check if you reside in the location where you established your residency. Once your residency status has been verified you can formally apply for citizenship by descent through the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall. At this point you will need to submit all the documents supporting your citizenship application and give the clerk the time to evaluate your case. You will be issued a specific residency permit which allows you to stay in Italy while your application is being processed. This is due to the fact that the process might take longer than 90 days, which is the length of time that a non-European citizen is allowed to stay in Europe. On the other hand, the residency permit you will be provided will allow you to continue residing in Italy for more than 90 days.

The processing time for an application for citizenship by descent can vary depending on the complexity of the specific case or on the workload of the municipality that processes the application. On average, the waiting time to be recognized as an Italian citizen is a couple of months. Once your citizenship has been formally granted you can apply for a passport directly in Italy. Alternatively, you can register with the AIRE (registry of Italian citizens residing abroad) and apply for a passport at the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside in your home country.

In conclusion, this article has sought to provide an overview of the process to apply for Italian citizenship in Italy. If you would like a free assessment of your eligibility or if you would like more information about applying for Italian citizenship by descent do not hesitate to contact us at either [email protected] or at +1 323-892- 0861.

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