Why is Italian citizenship by descent in the UK so popular?

More and more British citizens are seeking Italian citizenship through ancestral heritage, tracing their Italian lineage.

Since Brexit in 2016, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of UK citizens seeking Italian citizenship. Especially, in the case of Italian citizenship by descent in the UK because typically if one of your grandparents or great-grandparents was Italian, and never naturalized before the birth of the next generation you may be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by descent.

“Like almost everybody I have a passionate love of Italy and joining my wife and kids in being dual citizens will be a huge privilege.”

— Colin Firth

A few years ago, there was news of British actor Colin Firth acquiring Italian citizenship through marriage. He expressed his hope that if everything goes well, his entire family would become dual citizens of both Italy and the UK.

More and more British citizens are seeking Italian citizenship through ancestral heritage, tracing their Italian lineage. The Italian Consulate General revealed that the largest number of citizenship requests in the first half of 2019 was submitted by British citizens, and this number has continued to increase. The UK’s Brexit decision has led to significant changes in the rights of UK citizens residing in the EU.

Mr. Davide Palazzo, a qualified Italian lawyer and founder of Palazzo Law Boutique, has been assisting UK clients in obtaining Italian citizenship for the past 10 years, even before Brexit. Over the last 4 years, he has observed significant changes in this process, and the growing popularity of applying for Italian citizenship in the UK can be attributed, in part, to Brexit.

“Many clients approach Palazzo Law Boutique because one of their grandparents or great-grandparents was an Italian citizen, and they have a dream to retire in Italy, receive EU benefits, or pass on their Italian citizenship to their children.” 

“The emotional connection people have with their Italian heritage is often rooted in the stories they have heard about their great-grandparents. Becoming Italian citizens is instrumental in allowing individuals to reignite their ties with their Italian ancestry and connect with their Italian roots once again.”

— Davide Palazzo

Davide Palazzo from Palazzo Law Boutique
Mr. Davide Palazzo, a qualified Italian lawyer and the founder of Palazzo Law Boutique

Moreover, Mr.Palazzo added that Italy stands out among other European countries due to its large population of British citizens applying for citizenship. This distinction is attributed to the fact that Spain disallows dual citizenship except for specific cases, while Germany typically doesn’t permit it, except for exceptional circumstances.

We share Firth’s sentiment that obtaining dual citizenship is a significant privilege, and we would like to emphasize the numerous benefits that come with being both a citizen of Italy and the UK.

If you have Italian heritage and are considering starting your Italian citizenship by descent application in the UK, continue to read further for exclusive insights from Mr. Davide Palazzo.

What are the typical steps involved in obtaining Italian citizenship by descent in the UK?

People often begin by asking — Is applying for Italian citizenship a difficult process?

In the case of Italian citizenship by descent in the UK, the application process is relatively straightforward. It is considered one of the most straightforward processes among EU countries because the requirements are less stringent and do not require a language test.

However, it’s important to note that while conversational Italian is not necessary for the application process, all documents must be produced in the correct format according to Italian law. Many applicants without a legacy background often face rejection.

The typical steps start from your most recent Italian ancestry. When consulting an Italian immigration lawyer in the UK, they’ll inquire about your last Italian ancestor who moved from Italy to the UK, known as your “LIRA” or last Italian registered ancestry. Obtaining Italian citizenship by descent involves researching your lineage, verifying eligibility, and collecting necessary documents from Italy and the UK. Once we have the required documentation, we can proceed with your Italian citizenship application.

But how to check if you’re eligible for Italian citizenship by descent?

Generally, Italian citizenship is passed down from parent to child without any generational limitation, as long as none of the ancestors renounced their citizenship before the birth of the next generation.

However, it is crucial to consider certain factors when assessing eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent, including birth year, death year, citizenship status, and year of departure from Italy, among others. If one of your Italian ancestors was Italian and never renounced their right to Italian citizenship, as mentioned previously, you may consult with an immigration lawyer.

If your last Italian ancestor was a woman who gave birth before January 1st, 1948, you might face a challenge due to the 1948 rule. Previously, women couldn’t pass on Italian citizenship to their offspring. However, many have succeeded in claiming their rights through the judicial court for the 1948 case.

To proceed with your application, you may start by consulting with an immigration lawyer. This initial step will help you determine whether you can proceed based on your specific circumstances, as they will provide guidance tailored to your situation.

Have you ever experienced any rejection cases from Italian citizenship by descent in the UK?

Applicants who apply through a DIY process or without legal proficiency often face rejections. Recently, one of our clients approached us after submitting an application by himself and received rejections from the Italian consulate in Edinburgh last year.

Our client’s great-grandfather was born in Italy and immigrated to the UK. His great-grandfather never naturalized as a British citizen and was still considered an Italian citizen when our client’s grandfather was born. However, our client’s grandfather was born as a UK citizen.

The application was rejected because it was deemed that our client’s grandfather lost his rights to Italian citizenship by not electing Italian citizenship as his primary and only citizenship when he turned 18 years old. This rejection resulted from our client’s submission of an application providing evidence of the lack of naturalization.

The Italian consulate referenced a previous case of an Italian citizen who emigrated to Brazil. Upon examination, we found this case to be unrelated to our client’s situation.

The rejection was based on the consulate’s claim that our client’s grandfather renounced Italian citizenship by virtue of being born on UK soil. Moreover, they contended that he did not renounce British citizenship to maintain Italian citizenship rights upon reaching adulthood, as required by the Italian Civil Code of 1865, which governed citizenship acquisition by descent during that time.

After careful examination, the Italian consulate successfully acknowledged that his grandfather’s acquisition of British citizenship by being born on UK soil did not automatically invalidate his right to Italian citizenship.

We argued that the mere acquisition of British citizenship at birth did not negate his eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent. For a detailed account of this case, including the reasons for rejection and the legal arguments we presented to challenge the decision of the Italian consulate, you can refer to the full story on Palazzo Law Boutique’s website.

If one of your grandparents or great-grandparents was Italian and did not naturalize before the birth of the next generation, you may be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by descent and enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain

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