The key document to determine whether you qualify or not is the Naturalization Certificate or “lack” of it (the so-called Statement of No Record).
You have to make sure that your Ancestor who was born in Italy did not become a U.S. citizen before the birth of his/her son or daughter in the United States.
Now, there are instances where your mother or father (or grandmother or grandfather) who were born in Italy came to the U.S. as infants. You have to check if their parents ever become U.S. citizens and when, because if they did, odds are they also naturalized their minor children.
As a general rule, the naturalization was a two-step process that took a minimum of 5 years.
1. After residing in the United States for 2 years, an alien could file a "Declaration of Intention" (so-called "First Papers") to become a citizen.
2. After 3 additional years, the alien could "Petition for Naturalization." After the petition was granted, a Certificate of Citizenship was issued to the alien.
These two steps did not have to take place in the same court. A copy of the Petition was kept at the court, and a copy of the Petition and Certificate was sent to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services, which is now USCIS. After 1952, the Declaration of Intention was no longer required. These records include the alien's month and year (or possibly the exact date) of immigration into the United States, the date and place of birth, the occupation as well as the spouse’s name and place of birth, when they were married and their children’s dates and places of birth.
NOTE: wives and minor children were automatically naturalized with their husbands and fathers.
CLICK HERE to order a Naturalization Record.
For more information, please visit our Frequenly Asked Questions.
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