1. Benefits of having Italian Dual Citizenship
Obtaining Italian Dual Citizenship is the current "rage"! Thousands of people around the world who qualify for Italian Citizenship are currently exploring the possibility. Not only does it reconnect you with your Italian Heritage and Homeland, but it also allows you to be eligible to work, live and study in the European Union countries without the need for a Visa. Other benefits that you will accrue by having Italian Dual Citizenship include: transferring citizenship to all your children under 18, public education available to all EU citizens, and if you later reside in Italy, you will have easier access to public health care. By becoming an Italian Citizen, you will still maintain your US Citizenship.
2. Eligibility Requirements
The first step is to prove that your Ancestor who was born in Italy did not become a US citizen before the birth of his/her son or daughter here in the United States. For example, if you are applying through your paternal grandfather (your father's father), you have to prove that he never naturalized or if he did, that he took the oath after the birth of his son here in the US.
Furthermore, Paternal and Maternal lines are treated differently. If you are applying through your maternal lineage, the current law granting Italian citizenship states that women could hold but not pass citizenship to children born before January 1, 1948, the date Italy became a Republic. So if you are applying through your maternal grandfather (your mother's father), not only do you have to prove he was still an Italian citizen at the time of your mother's birth, but you also have to be born after January 1, 1948.
NOTE: There are instances where your mother or father (or grandmother or grandfather) who were born in Italy came to the U.S. as infants (i.e. minors). If their parents became US Citizens while they were still underage, they likely became US Citizens automatically. Thus, you would not have inherited the right to Italian Citizenship. To overcome this, you would need to prove that neither the child nor his/her parents ever became US Citizens.
One more constraint exists that affects some people: if your Italian Ancestor was naturalized (became a US Citizen) before July 1, 1912, you do not qualify. The rights of citizenship passing on to descendants begins after that date.
3. Next Steps
Putting together your application for Italian Dual Citizenship is not easy and requires work, patience and yes, money. You must gather certified copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records of your parents, grandparents and great grandparents, as well as your own and your spouse. Coupled with international Apostilles and translations of documents, the total number of documents might reach 60 or more. You will need to clear your personal calendar to find the time for researching, discovering, ordering and amending vital records. So all in all, it is not uncommon to spend a year preparing your application!
Generally, you will need:
1. Your Italian Ancestor's birth, marriage and death certificates, as applicable.
2. A certified copy of your Italian Ancestor's US Naturalization papers or, in case he or she was never naturalized, you will need special letters from the government stating he or she never became a US citizen.
3. New official copies of birth, marriage divorce and death records of all your Ancestors in your lineage from your native/current country, including your own. These are usually ordered from your State or local vital records offices.
4. You will need to obtain an Apostille from the Secretary of State of the state where each of the US vital records were issued; the Apostille is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries (i.e. Italy) that participated in The Hague Convention of 1961.
5. These non-Italian documents (with the exception of the Naturalization documents and Apostilles) will need to be translated to Italian.
6. The Italian Consulate where you will officially apply for citizenship will charge you an application fee of €300. The application fee is NON-REFUNDABLE, regardless of the outcome of the petition.
Finally, if you are serious about applying for Italian Dual Citizenship, don't waste time, make an appointment with the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over the State where you reside. Even though appointments may be several months away, preparing an application takes time.
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