The key document to determine whether you qualify or not is the Naturalization Certificate or “lack” of it (the so-called Certificate of Non-Existence).
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.
UPDATE: Naturalization Records Fees are set to become more costly. You might have already heard that on 14 November 2019 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a plan to increase genealogy-related record request fees by 269% to 492%, depending upon the type of record(s) requested. What does that mean to future Italian Dual Citizenship applicants? Naturalization Records are the key qualifying documents to determine whether you qualify or not, thus certified copies of your Italy-born Ancestor’s naturalization records must also be acquired through USCIS. Currently the fee to request an “Index Search” is $65 but may soon become $240 (non-refundable). If the Index Search discovers a record, an additional request to get the paper file must be placed, which may also be raised from $65 to $385. These proposed hikes are bound to make Italian Dual Citizenship a more expensive process. If you have been postponing your decision to apply for Italian Citizenship, now would be the best time to get started.
If you would like to learn more about the qualification requirements and with our assistance determine if you qualify for Italian citizenship by descent, book a FREE CONSULTATION with us.
If you already know that you qualify and you are ready to get started, sign up for our Full Assistance Start-to-Finish Program: we will acquire all the needed vital records from both Italy and the U.S., process all the required amendments, and complete your portfolio with apostilles and translations to Italian. We’ll prepare you for your appointment at the Consulate, instruct and coach you if applying in Italy, or introducing you to our affiliate law firm in Italy for handling the 1948 Challenge Lawsuits.