Applying for Italian Citizenship through FEMALE Ancestors (UPDATED)

The 1948 Rule

If you are applying for Italian Dual Citizenship through the "female" line, you may fall in the category of those born to an Italian female ancestor before 1948. For example: your mother's father was born in Italy; he did not become a naturalized U.S. citizen before her birth which fulfills one of the qualification requirements, but because you were born before 1948, you do not qualify. Another common example:  you are starting with your grandmother’s father, then if your father (or mother) was born before 1948, you do not qualify. There is a way to overcome this and successfully still apply for Italian dual citizenship. 

The problem all began with the 1912 Italian Citizenship Law (No. 555) granting Italian citizenship jure sanguinis stating that women could hold but not pass Italian citizenship to their children.  However, in 1948 when Italy became a Republic, the newly written Constitution did allow for women to pass on Italian citizenship but only to children born AFTER January 1, 1948.

Several years ago, the Italian Supreme Court held that this provision is contrary to the Constitutional principles, particularly to the principle of equality between men and women (Judgement No. 4466/2009). Thus, also children who are born before 1948 to an Italian mother may file a motion to appeal the "1948 Rule" and obtain, if all other qualification requirements are met, Italian citizenship.

NOTE: Even though the Italian Supreme Court ruled against the 1948 Rule, the Italian government has not yet chosen to modify or amend the current law. U.S. Italian Consulates and other Italian Consulates outside of Italy strictly adhere to the current 1948 Rule and will probably continue to do so until the law is amended. Thus, if you fall into this category, the legal action to be filed at the Court House in Rome is your only way to obtain citizenship.

The Italian Parliament has recently passed a bill that will change the jurisdiction where “1948 cases” and other citizenship-related lawsuits will be heard. In this new bill there is a clause establishing that the court having jurisdiction on cases dealing with Italian citizenship issues is now based on the place of birth of the Italian ancestor of the applicant/plaintiff:

36. All'articolo 4, comma 5, del decreto-legge 17 febbraio 2017, n. 13, convertito, con modificazioni, dalla legge 13 aprile 2017, n. 46, e' aggiunto, in fine, il seguente periodo: «Quando l'attore risiede all'estero le controversie di accertamento dello stato di cittadinanza italiana sono assegnate avendo riguardo al comune di nascita del padre, della madre o dell'avo cittadini italiani».

This means that starting June 22, 2022, new cases will no longer be heard in Rome but rather in local courts, unless of course the Italian Ancestor’s place of birth falls under the jurisdiction of the courts in Rome. These local courts coinciding with a Court of Appeals are 26 in total: Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Caltanissetta, Campobasso, Catania, Catanzaro, Firenze, Genova, L'Aquila, Lecce, Messina, Milano, Napoli, Palermo, Perugia, Potenza, Reggio Calabria, Roma, Salerno, Torino, Trento, Trieste.

In essence, this bill aims at reducing the heavy workload of this specialized section established in the Court of Rome and shortening the timeline of legal proceedings at the same time.

NOTE: The actions already filed in the Court of Rome will continue as they are. Whether there will be changes in the timeline of these ongoing cases is too early to tell.

Consequently, when your application/portfolio is ready to go to Italy, if after June 22, 2022, you will be filing in the appropriate Italian court of your ancestor’s birth as stated above.

Additional Resources are available HERE


Involuntary Citizenship of Women through Marriage

To qualify for Italian Dual Citizenship, you must prove that your Italy-born ancestor did not become a U.S. citizen before the birth of the next of kin here in the U.S. But what if your Italian born “female” ancestor married her Italian born husband before September 22, 1922 and became a U.S. citizen concurrently with him?

With the U.S. Expatriation Act of 1907, women’s identity was cloaked in their husbands’ nationality. In other words, women followed the status civitatis of the man they married and automatically acquired U.S. citizenship via marriage, without even taking the Oath of Allegiance. On September 22, 1922, the U.S. Cable Act was passed and women no longer automatically became U.S. Citizens by marriage.

Based on the Italian Constitutional Court judgment n. 87 of 1975 and of the Italian Supreme Court judgment n. 4466 of 2009, women who acquired a foreign nationality “involuntarily and automatically” because of marriage, retain their Italian citizenship, and they are therefore able to transmit it to their children. Therefore, an Italian woman who automatically acquired citizenship through her husband (Prior to the 1922 Cable Act), according to the 2009 Court decision, would not have lost her original Italian citizenship (since she did not willingly renounce it) and could validly transfer it to subsequent generations.

In both cases, your only option is to file a lawsuit against the Italian Government in the Civil Courts in Rome on the basis that this 1948 law is “discriminatory against women” AND on the basis that your Italian born Female ancestor acquired U.S. citizenship “involuntarily and automatically” because of marriage, retained her Italian citizenship and was also able to pass it on to her children, no matter what year the child was born.

Additional Resources available HERE


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

Questions on how to get started? Book your FREE Consultation at your convenience

You can also take our Italian Citizenship Quiz and learn if you qualify in less than two minutes!

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