The issue of passing on Italian Citizenship to a minor

We have talked many times about the instance where your Italian-born ancestors brought their children with them to the United States (or any other Country) and then became a “Citizen of the U.S.” (or the other country) before the children turned 21 years old. This means that your Italian-born child ancestor was naturalized along with his or her parent (as a minor), because he or she effectively renounced his or her right to Italian citizenship. This is the law and no exceptions are made in these cases.

Lately, we have noticed that there is a lot of confusion around this issue and would like to offer clarification.

While what we described above applies to minor children born in Italy, if your Italy-born adult immigrant ancestor later had children here in the U.S. (or in any other foreign country) and this Italian ancestor became a Citizen (naturalized) AFTER these children were born, then the child inherited the Italian Citizenship rights and passed them right down to you without any interruption. The “minor child” rule doesn’t apply in this case. Why is that? If minor children were born in the U.S., based on the U.S. Constitution (the 14th Amendment), they were U.S. citizens. The Italian law 555/1912 (Art. 7) clearly states that if the child of an Italian immigrant was born in a foreign country and therefore was a citizen of that country by the principle of ius soli (the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to its nationality or citizenship), that child can maintain his or her rights to Italian citizenship. This article of the 1912 law was written for the sole purpose of allowing the descendants of an Italian immigrant to keep a live link to the land of their Ancestors: Italy. Smart thinking.

Italian Consulates here in the U.S. have interpreted the law correctly and as long as all other conditions are met: your Italian-born ancestor was still an Italian citizen at the time of the birth of his son or daughter here in the U.S., i.e. did not naturalize before their birth (if applicable, the 1948 Rule for descendants of female ancestors has to be satisfied as well), minor children born in the U.S. have inherited their rights to Italian citizenship which are passed down to their children and grandchildren. 

For those of you who are applying either in Italy or at other Italian Consulates anywhere else in the world except the U.S., you may face a roadblock when it comes to this issue. Interpretation is defined as the action of understanding the meaning or significance of something (in this case the law and its further amendments). We know of a number of Italian Consulates around the world and some town halls in Italy who do not understand this rule and may deny the applicant Italian Citizenship.  Although, the law is designed not to leave too much space for interpretation, hiring a firm to assist you throughout the entire process may be helpful. 

CLICK HERE to learn if you qualify for Italian Dual Citizenship

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