The 1948 Rule – Myth versus Truth?

Life would be boring if myths did not exist… For as long as we can remember the Ellis Island myth that family names were changed at Ellis Island, still persists among many people. The truth is they were not, since ship’s manifests were created at the port of departure, and inspectors at Ellis Island never wrote down any names. 

Fast forward to today, applicants for Italian Citizenship are looking for ways to qualify for an Italian passport. The current myth is held by many who have Italian blood through a female ancestor and automatically think that they can only apply by petitioning the courts in Italy. This is not necessarily true: the trick is to understand who in your family lineage must be born AFTER January 1, 1948, for you to qualify. 

Why does the 1948 Rule exist? 

The 1912 Citizenship Law granting Italian citizenship by descent (jure sanguinis) stated that women could hold but not pass Italian citizenship to their children. On January 1, 1948, when the new Italian Constitution came into effect, women were given more rights including the right to pass Italian citizenship onto their children, but only to children born AFTER January 1, 1948. Unfortunately, the new legislation was not retroactive and so children born to an Italian mother before 1948 did not inherit citizenship rights.

THE REAL DEAL! Who is really affected by the 1948 Rule? 

To better understand how this works, you need to visualize the lineage that you will be using all the way from the Italian born ancestors who came over to the U.S. You have to ask yourself: in that citizenship chain who is the “oldest” Female Ancestor? Perhaps the great-grandmother, the grandmother, or the mother? Whoever she is, it is her child next in line to you who has to be born AFTER January 1, 1948. 

Example: if you are using your Italian born Great-Grandfather to your Grandmother, to your Father, it is your Father (the son of the first female ancestor) who must be born AFTER January 1, 1948. 


NEXT STEPS: How can one overcome the 1948 Rule?

Good news: in 2009, the Italian Supreme Court held that this provision is contrary to the constitutional principles, specifically to the principle of equality between men and women (Judgement No. 4466/2009). This means children who are born before 1948 to an Italian mother, may file a motion to appeal the "1948 Rule" in the Italian Courts and obtain, if all other qualification requirements are met, Italian citizenship.

What is important to understand is that even though the Supreme Court established that it is unconstitutional to discriminate women in these citizenship matters, you will not be able to apply at the Italian Consulate; your only path is to challenge the 1948 Rule in the courts in Italy. 

BUT WAIT:  Is challenging the 1948 Rule simply another option?

No, it is not!  In fact, the Court will require you to prove that you do not qualify for Italian citizenship using a male ancestor.  By showing, for instance, that your male ancestor became a U.S. Citizen prior to the birth of the next child in line to you, it allows you to file the motion in the Courts in Italy.  Think of this approach as the “court of last resort."

My Italian Family TOGETHER with Mazzeschi, our affiliate Italian Law Firm, can assist you. During our years of collaboration, we have successfully helped many applicants like you, fulfilling their dream of becoming Italian Dual Citizens. We don’t just give advice, we handle all the purchasing and preparation of your entire portfolio of documents, whether you apply at an Italian Consulate here in the U.S. or you apply in Italy (including 1948 Challenge Courts Cases). Our experience spans the past 20 years, and we have expert knowledge of what each Italian Consulate requires, as well as what the Italian Courts require. TO GET STARTED AND FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE FULL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, CLICK HERE

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