Do I need a lawyer to claim Italian Citizenship by descent? The short answer is: It depends
Claiming Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, or by bloodline, requires that you meet certain qualifications. Sometimes, meeting these qualifications is pretty straight-forward, while other times, circumstances call for a little extra help navigating the law, especially when the laws in question have changed over time.
In most cases, a lawyer is not necessary to claim Italian citizenship by descent, you only need to establish a portfolio that proves your right to claim it. The citizenship portfolio will include all vital records (birth records, marriage records, divorce records, death records, naturalization records, and other supporting documents), certified translations, and apostilles beginning with your last ancestor to be born in Italy and ending with you. This portfolio will be presented during your citizenship appointment at the Italian Consulate covering the state where you live.
While trying to determine your eligibility for Italian citizenship, or even while compiling the necessary records for your portfolio, you may come across a roadblock or indication that you may not be eligible due to unique circumstances. In these cases, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer who specializes in Italian citizenship to confirm your eligibility, and, if applicable, petition the Italian Courts on your behalf. A common example of this situation is when we try to claim Italian dual citizenship through a female ancestor. Before January 1, 1948, Italy only allowed citizenship to be passed down by the father.
For example, your paternal grandmother who was born in Italy and emigrated to the United States can only pass Italian citizenship if your father was born AFTER January 1, 1948. This is because before the Italian Constitution came into effect on January 1, 1948, only men could pass on Italian citizenship to their children.
A second common example is when your Italian born “female” ancestor married her Italian born husband before Sept 22, 1922 and became a US citizen concurrently with him just by virtue of 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 acquire a foreign nationality “involuntarily and automatically” because of marriage, retain their Italian citizenship, and they can transmit it to their children.
If you are affected by the 1948 Rule and/or the Involuntary Citizenship of Women through Marriage, citizenship generally can only be claimed by challenging the law in the Italian courts. My Italian Family, together with Mazzeschi, our affiliate law firm in Italy, can assist you with challenging laws like these and others through one of our Italian Citizenship Assistance Programs!
Seeking help with vital records
Vital records are used in our citizenship portfolios to trace our roots and demonstrate a right to claim Italian citizenship by bloodline. We begin with the last direct ancestor to be born in Italy, which proves our Italian heritage, and put together a genealogical “chain” of birth, marriage, death, naturalization, and supporting documents (like apostilles and certified translations) leading up to us.
Acquiring these documents rarely requires contacting a lawyer.
In some cases, the state where you live may request a court order to obtain some vital records, and court orders may also be necessary to make any needed corrections on certificates, such as fixing misspelled names. These cases usually require a lawyer to petition the court, and regulations vary by state. Be sure to check with your local authority, such as the Register of Deeds in the certificate’s town of origin, or the vital records office at your local Secretary of State, to verify the necessary protocols (if you’re part of our comprehensive Start-to-Finish Program, we take care of this for you!).
Once your citizenship portfolio is finalized and all necessary discrepancies have been corrected, it’s time to present your portfolio at the Italian Consulate covering your state, or, if you’re applying in Italy, at the Town Hall of the comune, or town, where you reside. Do you need a lawyer for this? It depends.
You cannot hire a lawyer to represent you with the Italian Consulate. Only you, “the applicant,” will be able to present your portfolio.
If, however, you are challenging the Italian legal system (such as the 1948 Law and/or the Involuntary Citizenship of the Female Ancestor), you will need an Italian law firm to petition the Italian Courts on your behalf.
Additionally, if you are a permanent resident of Italy and you will be applying at the comune, hiring an Italian lawyer to represent you can be helpful, but it is not required.
On the other hand, if you decide to obtain Italian Citizenship by submitting a claim before a judge in the Italian Courts because your Italian Consulate is not providing an appointment within a reasonable time, an Italian law firm can file the “Denial of Justice” lawsuit on your behalf.
Whatever your need, lawyer or not, My Italian Family together with Mazzeschi is here to help! We have first-hand experience with the Italian citizenship process and treat each case as if it were for our own family. Our work is in our hearts.
How do I get started?
Give us a call! We offer a FREE 30-minute Phone/Zoom Consultation for applicants who have questions regarding qualification, required documentation, estimated cost, timelines, and tips on how to make an appointment with an Italian Consulate here in the US (among other questions). We will also perform some free preliminary research to establish if you have a path to Italian Citizenship! Simply call us at 1-844-741-0848 (Option 1) Monday through Friday, 8:30AM to 6:30PM ET, and Saturdays, 10AM to 5PM ET.
Alternatively, you can book your FREE 30-minute Consultation at your convenience.
At My Italian Family, 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 US or you apply in Italy (including 1948 Challenge Courts Cases). Our experience spans 20 years, and we have expert knowledge of what each Consulate requires, as well as what the Italian Courts require. TO GET STARTED AND FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE.
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