Italian Citizenship by Marriage for Women Married Before 1983

A foreign spouse married to an Italian citizen often wonders if they can apply for Italian citizenship by marriage. In fact, there are a few scenarios in which someone may be eligible and the requirements differ for those married before and after April 27, 1983 and if the Italian citizen is male or female. This article will outline the specifics of each scenario, who is eligible for Italian citizenship by marriage, and how to apply.

Italian Citizenship by Marriage

First, we will outline the general eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage. These criteria apply to a foreign man who married an Italian woman before or after 1983 or a woman who married an Italian man after 1983. The foreign spouse can apply for Italian citizenship by marriage after two years from the date of marriage if the couple resides in Italy. If residing outside of Italy, this time is increased to three years from the marriage date. In both cases, the term is reduced by half if the couple has children under the age of 18. It’s also important to note that same-sex civil unions were recognized in Italy in 2016 and all same-sex unions celebrated abroad are recognized in Italy.

If the couple resides abroad, it’s important to first ensure that the Italian spouse is registered in AIRE, the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad. The marriage record must be registered with the couple’s local Italian consulate, who will in turn register the record with the Italian comune (municipality) where the Italian spouse is registered. As of December 1, 2018, knowledge of the Italian language at the B1 level is also a requirement for Italian citizenship by marriage applications. It should be proven through the submission of a certified language certificate from one of the approved universities. B1 is an intermediate level according to the Common European Framework of References for Languages. Additionally, the foreign spouse will need to provide certificates of a clean criminal record issued by all the states they have resided in since the age of 14. It’s important to remember that these records are valid for only 6 months from the date of issuance and they will need to be legalized by means of apostille and translated into Italian.

Applications are submitted through a two-step process. First, you will submit an application through the Italian Ministry of the Interior’s online portal. The application will undergo a preliminary assessment and after the review, you will be invited to attend an appointment in person at your local consulate to submit the original copies of all documentation. If residing in Italy, you will need to attend an appointment at the local prefettura (prefecture). In both cases, the Ministry of the Interior makes the final decision on citizenship by marriage applications, and by law, they have up to 24 months to process applications, which can extend to a maximum of 36 months.

Women Who Married an Italian Citizen Before 1983

In the case of a foreign woman who married an Italian man prior to April 27, 1983, there is a different and more expedited process to acquire Italian citizenship. Law no. 123/1983, which went into effect on April 27, 1983, stated that foreign women would no longer automatically and immediately acquire their husband’s citizenship upon marriage. Women who fall into this category of having married an Italian citizen before April 27, 1983 have the right to apply for the recognition of citizenship retroactively. Additionally, women are eligible to apply if their spouse is deceased or if they divorced after April 27, 1983. However, if divorced prior to this date, the woman would have lost her right to claim Italian citizenship through marriage.

The application process varies slightly from the other scenarios mentioned where a foreign spouse applies for Italian citizenship by marriage. First, she is not required to pass a B1 language test or provide criminal record certificates. Also, the process tends to be faster as the woman can schedule an appointment directly with her local Italian consulate, and her application is reviewed directly by the consulate. This process is similar to applying for Italian citizenship by descent, where an individual is claiming their birthright to citizenship through retroactive recognition.

At the appointment, she will need to present her US passport, birth certificate, and marriage certificate, both legalized by means of apostille and translated into Italian. There is also a consular fee to be paid at the time of the appointment and she will need to show proof she resides within that consulate’s jurisdiction. It’s important to check the specific consulate’s regulations and requirements, as there may be some variation. Some consulates may require the marriage certificate to be registered in the Italian municipality where the Italian spouse is registered through A.I.R.E. Once the woman’s Italian citizenship application is approved, her date of Italian citizenship will have begun from the date of the marriage.

It’s important to remember that she is applying for the retroactive recognition of citizenship based on the fact that prior to April 27, 1983, women automatically acquired their husband’s citizenship. This path does not apply to a man who married an Italian woman prior to 1983.

What if the Italian spouse became a citizen by jure sanguinis?

There is an additional scenario for a foreign woman who married a man with Italian ancestry before April 27, 1983 and he is eligible to make a claim for Italian citizenship by descent. Once the husband completes the process of acquiring Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, the foreign spouse will then be able to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage.

Through the process of acquiring Italian citizenship by descent, her husband’s birth record becomes registered in Italy, indicating he was Italian since birth. Therefore, the foreign woman married an Italian citizen before April 27, 1983 and has the right to apply for citizenship by marriage through this expedited process.

Can the Children Born After a Pre-1983 Marriage Claim Italian Citizenship?

A benefit to applying for this recognition of Italian citizenship through marriage is that it can be passed down to future generations. When a foreign woman acquires Italian citizenship through her marriage to an Italian citizen prior to April 27, 1983, her date of Italian citizenship will have begun on her marriage date. Therefore, any children born after this date are eligible for Italian citizenship and can apply through her as their Italian ancestor. There is also the possibility of the children being eligible through their Italian father. However, if he naturalized as a US citizen before the birth of the child, the child would be unable to file their claim through the father. In this case, the child could apply for Italian citizenship by descent through their mother by submitting certified copies of their vital records to their local consulate.

This article has outlined various scenarios in which an individual may be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage, including when a foreign woman married an Italian man before April 27, 1983 and can claim citizenship through marriage retroactively. If you would like further information or have any questions about Italian citizenship, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com.