We The Italians | ICA: What are your options if you do not qualify for Italian citizenship by descent?

ICA: What are your options if you do not qualify for Italian citizenship by descent?

ICA: What are your options if you do not qualify for Italian citizenship by descent?

  • WTI Magazine #152 Jun 25, 2022
  • 274

Among the benefits of applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis and obtaining an Italian passport is the ability to live in Italy and anywhere in the European Union without any time restrictions or limitations. However, not everyone has Italian ancestry or meets the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by descent.

If this applies to you please read more as this article will explore the options that are available to those of you who do not qualify for Italian citizenship by descent but would like to stay in Italy beyond the 90-day limit. 

First of all, it is worth pointing out that you should thoroughly assess your eligibility and analyze the Italian lineage on both sides of your family before you exclude an application for Italian citizenship by descent. In fact, it is not unusual to be ineligible for citizenship through a close relative and to qualify via a more distant one instead. For instance, if your mother was born in Italy but you cannot claim citizenship through her, you might be able to apply via your paternal grandfather, provided that he was also born in Italy. Assessing your lineage on both sides may also reveal the possibility of obtaining citizenship through a 1948 case. In other words, if there is a woman in your Italian lineage whose child was born prior to January 1, 1948 you may not be able to apply for Italian citizenship via an Italian consulate or via a municipality in Italy but you might be able to file a 1948 case via a court in Italy. This is due to the fact that women were not allowed to transfer their citizenship on to their children before January 11948, which is now considered to be unlawful, and this is why you can petition the court and apply for the retroactive recognition of Italian citizenship. Court cases have recently become very popular and the chances of success are high. If you would like further information about 1948 cases please click here. It is worth mentioning that if you pursue citizenship via a 1948 case you cannot stay in Italy while your case is being tried. In other words, a residence permit (“Permesso di soggiorno per attesa cittadinanza”) can only be issued if you are applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis via an Italian municipality. 

What if you are married to an Italian citizen?

If you are married to an Italian citizen you can apply for  Italian citizenship by marriage or for a permit of stay for spouses of EU citizens. While the permit can be requested immediately after moving to Italy, you can apply for Italian citizenship through marriage after 2 years from the date of marriage or civil union if you live in Italy or after 3 years if you reside abroad. However, if you have minor children, the number of years is halved. In order to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage you need to have an Italian language certificate (B1 level is required). The language certificate must be recognized by one of the following institutions: the University for Foreigners of Siena, the University for Foreigners of Perugia, the Roma Tre University or the Dante Alighieri Society. If you hold a language degree in Italian or are able to prove that you attended school in Italy you do not need to take the language exam.

Note: a language test is not needed to apply for a permit of stay for spouses of EU citizens.

Italian citizenship by residency

If you are not married to an Italian citizen and you do not meet any of the requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by descent, you may qualify for Italian citizenship after a number of years of full-time residency in Italy. In particular, if you are a non-EU citizen you can apply for Italian citizenship by residency after 10 years of legal residency in Italy, whereas if you are an EU citizen you can apply after 4 years. There are also cases in which the period of time required is shorter. This is the case, for instance, for individuals who were born in Italy or for those whose Italian parents or grandparents were born in Italy; in this specific case the application can be filed after residing in Italy for 3 years.

Aside from the number of years of legal residency in Italy, you need to have B1 certified knowledge of Italian.

Please note that the language requirement is mandatory only if you are filing an application for Italian citizenship by marriage and residency; if you are applying for Italian citizenship by descent the language requirement does not apply. 

Furthermore, you will also need to prove that your yearly income has not been lower than €8,263.31 for the past 3 years. If you are married, the minimum income required is €11,362.05 with an additional €516.46 for every dependent child. Finally, you need to provide criminal background checks from all the U.S. states and other foreign countries in which you have resided.

You can submit your application via the official website of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. Once your application has been approved, you will need to provide the local police headquarters (“Questura”) with original copies of your documents including your birth certificate and clean criminal records, which will need to be duly legalized and translated into Italian.

You will need to reside in Italy throughout the entire application process. It can take up to 24 months (2 years) to receive an outcome; this can also be extended to 36 months (3 years). If you have minor children who are living with you when you are granted citizenship they will automatically become Italian citizens.

Elective Residence Visa

This type of visa is designed for individuals with substantial financial assets and a stable monthly passive income who wish to move to Italy permanently. One of the most important things you need to bear in mind if you are applying for this visa is that it will not allow you to work during your stay in Italy. In other words, if you wish to work after establishing residency in Italy, you will need to apply to the local police headquarters (“Questura”) in order to change your immigration status.

The requirements to apply for this visa are listed on the website of the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside. In order to determine which consulate you will need to apply to you can refer to this list. It is worth pointing out that although there might be some differences among Italian consulates, as a general rule you will need to provide the following:

  • your tax returns from the last two years,
  • a registered lease or deed for property in Italy,
  • official letters from banks or financial institutions that prove substantial and stable private income originating from pensions, properties or investment funds,
  • and a cover letter explaining the reasons why you wish to relocate to Italy.

Once your application has been approved, the visa will allow you to stay in Italy for 365 days. Upon arriving in Italy, you will need to apply for a residency permit through the local Questura, which will verify each year that you meet the requirements and re-issue the residency permit. This visa can also be extended to your spouse and children over the age of 18 living with you, provided that you can demonstrate adequate financial assets to support them.  

Investor Visa

The Investor Visa, also referred to as the “Italian Golden Visa”, was introduced in 2016 to allow non-EU citizens to contribute to Italy’s economic growth whilst being able to spend time in the country without any restrictions. In particular, this visa allows investors to stay in Italy for up to 2 years provided that they invest in strategic sectors of the Italian economy, which have been outlined as follows:

  1. Government bonds: € 2 million
  2. Italian limited company: € 500,000
  3. Italian innovative start-up: € 250,000
  4. Philanthropic donation: € 1 million

In order to apply for this visa you will need to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to carry out your investment plan. You will also need clean criminal records and a declaration of commitment with proof of consent from the recipient. The application for the visa can be submitted on the website of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. The Investor Visa for Italy Committee will have 30 days to review your application; if they approve it you will have 6 months to request an Investor Visa at the Italian consulate which covers the jurisdiction where you reside. The visa will allow you to stay in Italy for 2 years, however it can also be renewed for an additional three years. 

Please note that there are other types of visas than the ones described above, therefore, if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for the investor visa or the elective residence visa you may qualify for other types of visas, such as the work visa, the study visa, the family visa or the self-employment visa. It is also worth keeping in mind that while these visas allow you to enter Italy, you can apply for Italian citizenship by residency as soon as you have reached the number of years required to apply by Italian law.

We hope that this article has provided you with an insight into the options that are available to you if you cannot apply for Italian citizenship by descent but wish to live in Italy without any limitations. If you would like to learn more about the topic send us an email at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or call us at +1 951-742-5830 for a free consultation. We will be happy to help you!