Italian Citizenship By Descent

An Overview Of The Eligibility Requirements, Application Process And The Benefits Of Applying

Do you have Italian ancestry and have wondered what it would be like to be an Italian citizen and perhaps relocate to Italy? Have you ever imagined travelling to Italy without any time constraints to enjoy the country’s culture, art, cuisine and lifestyle? You might think these are the only reasons you should apply for Italian citizenship, but there are many more. This article will provide you with an overview of the eligibility requirements for Italian citizenship by descent, the application process, and it will touch upon some of the advantages that come with being an Italian citizen.

What are the eligibility requirements?

In order to apply for Italian citizenship you must meet the following criteria:

  • your ancestor who was born in Italy was alive at the time Italy was unified as a nation on March 17, 1861 or he/she was born after that date;
  • your ancestor was never naturalized (or he/she became a U.S. citizen after the birth of the child who was born in the U.S. and after June 14, 1912),
  • and none of your ancestors in your direct line of descent ever renounced their Italian citizenship.

It is worth pointing out that if you are applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (by descent), there are no generational limits. In other words, you can apply through your most recent ancestor as well as through your most distant ancestor (provided that they were born in Italy) since there is no limit in the number of generations you can go back. However, if there is a woman in your Italian lineage who was born in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1948, you might be able to apply for citizenship through an application via the court as opposed to via a consulate or a municipality in Italy and file a 1948 case.

Do you need to speak italian to apply for italian citizenship?

One of the advantages of applying for Italian citizenship by descent is that speaking Italian is not a legal requirement because from the Italian government’s perspective you are an Italian citizen by birth right and you are only formally applying for the recognition of such status. On the other hand, if you are applying for Italian citizenship by marriage or by residency, you need to pass a B1 language test, which is intermediate level.

The application process

In order to apply for the recognition of Italian citizenship you need to collect certified copies of your family’s vital records, authenticate them with Apostilles and translate them into Italian. 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. Birth, marriage and death certificates are issued by the U.S. state’s Department of Health, by the County or the Town in which the event occurred. On the other hand, final judgments of divorces can be retrieved from the court in which the divorce was filed.

The naturalization records pertaining to the Italian ancestor through whom you are claiming citizenship, or proof that the ancestor was never naturalized, 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 the naturalization took place. As explained above, once all of 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), they will also need to be translated into Italian and finally submitted to the Italian consulate or to the Italian municipality to which you are applying.

What are the benefits of holding an italian passport?

There are several benefits that come with holding an Italian passport. Firstly, if you are granted Italian citizenship you will be able to stay in Italy for as long as you wish, and unlike many overseas citizens who invest in a property in Italy, for instance, but can only stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days, if you pursue Italian citizenship you will be able to stay in Italy all-year round. Italian citizenship is also attractive for the country’s free universal healthcare. Italy, in fact, has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe as it provides universal coverage for its citizens and residents. You will also be covered for the necessary care if you reside in or are visiting any member state of the European Union. As for higher education, it is worth pointing out that many universities in Italy have an excellent reputation, they rank high on an international scale, and they are also very affordable compared to the U.S., Canada or the UK. Furthermore, as an Italian citizen you can study in another European country as part of your degree course by taking part in the Erasmus programme – an initiative run by the European Union which provides opportunities for students to study in a different European country while completing a degree. With regards to this, being an Italian citizen means that you will become a European citizen, which allows you free entry within all the member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) without having to wait in long passport and border control lines. In other words, being an EU citizen means that you can work, live and study in any of the EU’s member states without any limitations. Finally, if you apply for Italian citizenship and you have minor children, once you are granted Italian citizenship they will also be automatically recognized as Italian citizens provided that you register their births through the A.I.R.E. (Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad) via the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside.

We hope that this article has provided you with a basic understanding of the application process for Italian citizenship by descent, and the benefits that it entails.  If you are considering applying for Italian citizenship and you need information or help with determining whether you are eligible, please do not hesitate to contact ICA at, via telephone at 1-323-892-0861 or visit ICA’s website at: .