For many Italian-Americans, the opportunity to claim Italian citizenship through an ancestor is an amazing discovery. It opens the door to celebrating our heritage in ways we never imagined, from traveling with one of the world’s most powerful passports to living and working visa-free in, not only Italy, but any of the 27 nations that make up the European Union.
The possibilities are truly endless (even if you don’t speak Italian!).
As we imagine all of the potential benefits of Italian dual citizenship, we may ask ourselves: Do I qualify?
Qualifying for Italian citizenship through ancestry: The basics
Acquiring citizenship through ancestry is known as jure sanguinis, or “right of bloodline” (the j in jure is pronounced like the English y in yellow). Although determining our eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent can have its hurdles, the general principle is to prove that the “chain of citizenship” has never been broken between generations. But what does that mean?
The chain of citizenship
Italian citizenship, under most circumstances, is passed from one generation to the next. Parents with Italian citizenship automatically pass their citizenship on to their children each generation, and that linear passage continues for any number of generations spanning from Italian Unification in 1861 onward.
As straight-forward as that may sound, nothing in this world can be easy. There are, of course, circumstances that could “break the chain” and make claiming Italian citizenship by bloodline more challenging, or even impossible.
In abbreviated terms, some of these circumstances include:
- If your first American-born relative was born after your Italian ancestors became a naturalized US citizen (before 1992, Italy did not allow dual citizenship, so any ancestor would have lost their Italian citizenship when they became US citizens and would not pass it on to any subsequently born children).
- If your Italian ancestor was naturalized (became a US citizen) before July 1, 1912.
- If your ancestor died before March 17, 1861 (the date Italy became a nation; before this date, there were no Italian citizens).
- If your Italian lineage is unique to your maternal bloodline, you may not be eligible for citizenship if your maternal ancestor’s child was born before January 1, 1948. Before this date, citizenship could only be passed down by the father, and women could not pass their citizenship to their children. This is known as the 1948 Law).
- If your Italian ancestor emigrated to the US as a minor (younger than age 21), you may not be eligible for citizenship. Minors were typically naturalized at the same time as their parents, so if the parents of your direct minor-aged descendant were naturalized while your descendant was under age 21, your descendant likely would have lost their Italian citizenship along with their parents.
That being said, all hope is not lost if your circumstances fall under some of these categories. For example, if your Italian lineage is unique to the maternal side and your ancestor was born before January 1, 1948, you are able to challenge the 1948 Law in an Italian court.
To help you determine if you might be eligible for Italian dual citizenship by descent, you can take our quick Italian Citizenship Quiz and learn if you qualify in less than two minutes!
Why should I pursue Italian Citizenship?
This is a great question to ask ourselves once we discover our eligibility. Putting together an Italian citizenship portfolio can require a lot of time and effort, and it’s up to you to decide if pursuing Italian citizenship is the right choice . To help you decide, here are a few of the countless benefits of Italian dual citizenship:
- Education tends to be much less expensive in Europe compared to in the US. With Italian citizenship, you can more easily attend top universities like University of Bologna, which is the oldest continuously operating university in the world (established in the year 1088!).
- You can live and work visa-free in any of the 27 European Union member nations.
- You have access to the 4th most powerful passport in the world. The Italian passport ranks above even the US passport, which is the 8th most powerful.
- A vast new job market spanning almost all of Europe becomes available to you.
- All of these benefits and more can be passed on to future generations.
How do I get started?
Give us a call! We offer a FREE 30-minute Telephone 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 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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