We The Italians | ICA: Italian citizenship by descent: exceptions and special circumstances

ICA: Italian citizenship by descent: exceptions and special circumstances

ICA: Italian citizenship by descent: exceptions and special circumstances

  • WTI Magazine #144 Oct 16, 2021
  • 335

So far we have provided extensive information about the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by descent, the different ways of applying, and the application process per se. This article instead will provide you with more detailed information about some of the caveats that are worth considering when applying for Italian citizenship by descent. More specifically, it will analyze some of the exceptions and special circumstances that might apply to some individuals. 

As a general rule, you can apply for Italian citizenship if your ancestor who was born in Italy was never naturalized (or if he/she became a U.S. citizen after the birth of the child who was born in the U.S. and after June 14th, 1912), and if none of your ancestors in your direct line of descent ever renounced their Italian citizenship. However, if there is a woman in your Italian lineage who gave birth to her child in the U.S. prior to January 1st, 1948, you might be able to apply for citizenship through an application via the court rather than via a consulate, and file a 1948 case via a judicial proceeding. 

The explanation for this lies in the fact that when Italy’s constitution came into effect on January 1st, 1948, women and men were granted equal rights, and therefore women were able to pass their Italian citizenship on to their children. On the contrary, prior to this date, women could not pass their Italian citizenship on to their children, which is now considered to be unlawful and discriminatory against women, and this is why you can retroactively apply for citizenship via the court system and file a lawsuit. Having said this, the following section of this article will outline some peculiar cases and special circumstances you might encounter when looking into applying for Italian citizenship by descent. 

Please be aware that there might also be other specific situations that are not mentioned in the categories listed below, therefore feel free to reach out to us for a free assessment of your case. 

SCENARIO N.1

You were born in Italy to an American mother and to an Italian father and you acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through the registration of your birth certificate in the U.S. Your birth was registered through an Italian “comune”. You now reside outside Italy and you do not hold an Italian passport. Assuming you did not naturalize in another country before 1992, you only need to register with the AIRE (Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad) and apply for an Italian passport. The consulate may require that you register your vital records (eg. marriage record/s, divorce record/s, name change decrees). Please note that if your Italian parent renounced his/her Italian citizenship by naturalizing in another country, you may not be able to claim Italian citizenship. 

SCENARIO N.2

You were born in Italy to an American father and to an Italian mother, you acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through the registration of your birth certificate in the U.S. and your Italian birth certificate was registered at an Italian “comune.”  You hold a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad, but you now reside outside Italy and do not hold an Italian passport. You are an Italian citizen only if you were born after January 1st 1948. If this case applies to you, you can register with the AIRE and apply for an Italian passport. As with the previous example, the consulate may require that you register your vital records. Please note that if you were born prior to January 1st 1948 you did not become an Italian citizen because women could not transfer their citizenship on to their children before that date. Therefore, you will need to file a 1948 case in order to obtain Italian citizenship. 

SCENARIO N. 3

You were born in Italy to Italian parents and became naturalized in the U.S. prior to August 16th, 1992. In this case you automatically relinquished your Italian citizenship. This is because before 1992 the voluntary acquisition of a foreign citizenship caused the loss of Italian citizenship. This also applies if you became a U.S. citizen through your parents while you were a minor. In this case, the only way to reacquire Italian citizenship is to move to Italy and establish your residency there. In brief, you will need to go to the Italian consulate which covers the jurisdiction where you reside and sign a declaration stating that you intend to reacquire Italian citizenship by establishing residency in Italy within one year from the date of declaration. While the documents such as your vital records need to be submitted to an Italian municipality (“comune”) where you intend to establish your residency, the declaration needs to be rendered at the Italian consulate. If you would like more information about the reacquisition of Italian citizenship, please click here

SCENARIO N. 4

You were born in Italy to Italian parents and became naturalized in the U.S. after August 16th, 1992. You are still an Italian citizen, therefore you can register with the AIRE and apply for an Italian passport. As explained in SCENARIO N. 1, you never lost your Italian citizenship because after August 16th, 1992 Italy started to allow for dual citizenship. 

SCENARIO N. 5

You were born in the U.S. to a parent who was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen and your parent became naturalized before you were born but after August 16th, 1992. If this apples to you, you can apply for Italian citizenship by descent because after August 16th, 1992 Italy allowed for dual citizenship. In order to apply for Italian citizenship by descent, you will need to book an appointment with your local Italian consulate. 

SCENARIO N. 6

You were born to an Italian father who was naturalized prior to August 16th, 1992 and before you were born. You cannot apply for Italian citizenship by descent through him. However, you might be able to apply for Italian citizenship via your mother provided that she married your father before 1983 and while he was still an Italian citizen. This is because before April 27th, 1983 all foreign women who married an Italian citizen automatically became Italian. Therefore, your qualifying Italian ancestor could be your mother. Please note that if your father passed away or if your parents divorced prior to that date, but after your birth, you can still claim Italian citizenship provided that your parents’ marriage record and your mother’s birth certificate are registered in Italy. 

SCENARIO N.7

You were born in the U.S. to a parent who was born in Italy, moved to the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen before 1992 and before you were born.  Your parent then moved back to Italy and regained his/her Italian citizenship prior to your birth. You can apply for Italian citizenship by descent provided that you submit proof that your parent regained his/her Italian citizenship. 

SCENARIO N. 8

Your Italian ancestor through whom you are claiming citizenship (e.g. your Italian-born grandfather) lived in a foreign country prior to emigrating to the U.S. You need to verify that he/she did not become a citizen of that country as that might affect your eligibility for Italian citizenship. 

SCENARIO N.9

You were born in a country which is different from the U.S. and Italy, you now reside in the U.S and wish to apply for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. In this case, in order to claim your right to Italian citizenship by descent you must not have become a U.S. citizen prior to August 16th, 1992. 

To conclude, these are just some of the exceptions and special circumstances that we have encountered throughout the years here at ICA, however there might also be other specific situations that are not mentioned in the categories listed above. 

If you would like a free assessment of your eligibility or if you think that your case might be unique and does not fall within one of the categories listed above, do not hesitate to contact us at either info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or at +1 323-892- 0861.