ICA: Italian Citizenship Through Marriage and The B1 Requirement
- WTI Magazine #117 Jul 20, 2019
In last month’s ICA article, we mentioned that this month we would be discussing Italian citizenship by marriage and the new linguistic requirement. For more detailed information on citizenship by marriage click here to read our citizenship by marriage page.
Let’s first start with some of the reasons why people we assist choose to acquire Italian citizenship when they are married to an Italian citizen.
Some couples are looking to have the option to retire in Italy, or in another EU country, together or simply plan to move to Italy or Europe and start a new life in the near future.
Another large category includes couples who choose to become citizens for more practical reasons.
This was the situation, for example, for a client who we assisted not too long ago who is a well-known photographer that lives and spends time between New York City and Milan. He wanted to be free to be able to work and live in Italy without any kind of restrictions and for any length of time he would like. His wife (the Italian in the relationship) is the director of a well-known major magazine and unfortunately, it was not always possible for the two to live in the same city at the same time because of their work. This problem was also partially due to the restrictions on non-European citizens in regards to the length of time they are allowed to be in any country in the EU at one time, which had impeded this photographer’s ability to work in Italy and spend time with his wife as she doesn’t always reside in Italy either. Non-European Union citizens are restricted to stay within Italy and the Schengen Zone (an area/group of countries that are signatories to the freedom of movement agreement) for up to 90 days out of every 180 day period. His having citizenship has given him the freedom to come and go to Italy and around Europe to be with his wife when he pleased, completely without restrictions.
But to clarify, for couples residing together in Italy, it is possible for the non-Italian spouse to get a “permission of stay” allowing the non-Italian spouse to stay in the country without becoming a citizen.
Sign me up! What do I need to do?
As far as the general minimum requirements needed to apply for citizenship through marriage are concerned, it depends on a few things. The couple must have been married for at least 3 years if they are living outside of Italy, or for 2 years if they are currently living in Italy together. If the couple has children who are minors (under the age of 18), this time is cut in half in both cases. Meaning, the time is reduced to 1.5 years for couple residing outside of Italy and 1 year for couples living in Italy. The couple must be married and not legally separated. As mentioned in our previous article, same sex couples are also eligible for citizenship by marriage and the same rules would apply.
The Italian government makes it necessary to demonstrate basic language skills. This is the new update we mentioned. This requirement has been in place since December of 2018, so this is quite recent. The certification required is what is known as B1 level linguistic certification. You can click here to read one of our articles with more information about what the B1 is and the providers/institutions that will be able to assist you in preparing for the test and/or assist you with preparatory courses. Having a B1 level certificate will demonstrate to the government that you have a basic command of the Italian language. There are various ways to prepare for the test. Some people are able to get enough of the basics on their own while others may prefer to take group or private lessons.
There are also are some necessary documents to present to the Italian government when you are applying for Italian citizenship by marriage. Of course, this is a service that we, at ICA, can assist you with which is something we routinely offer our clients.
In short, the first documents that you need to acquire are a set of criminal records for all places that the non-Italian spouse (the applicant) has legally resided in their adult life. Keep in mind that these documents have limited validity and need to be valid at the date of your meeting with the Italian consulate or Italian Prefettura (when applying in Italy). Next, it will also be necessary to have a certified copy of the non-Italian spouse’s birth certificate with an apostille stamp, a type of international certification. You also need a certified copy of your marriage certificate, with the apostille stamp too. All documents that do not come from Italy will all require apostilles. Make sure that you have your marriage certificate from the Italian municipality where your marriage has already been registered... assuming that the Italian spouse in your union has already registered your marriage.
The next thing you need to do (if applying in the USA) is go online and submit all of your documents. Once the consulate has received everything, the next step is to have your appointment and your interview at the consulate. This is when you hand in all the original documents. At that point, the last step necessary is to wait for a reply. Currently the waiting time for a response can be up to 48 months.
As always, if you are interested to speak with one of our Italian citizenship experts and for an obligation and cost free consultation contact us at email@example.com or call us at 1-323-892-0861
Keep an eye open for next month’s ICA article on a popular subject, citizenship by descent, also known as Jure Sanguinis.