We The Italians | ICA: Is there a generational limit to applying for italian citizenship by descent?

ICA: Is there a generational limit to applying for italian citizenship by descent?

ICA: Is there a generational limit to applying for italian citizenship by descent?

  • WTI Magazine #141 Jul 17, 2021
  • 276

Our previous articles analyzed the surge of applications for Italian citizenship by descent, the cost associated to applying for Italian citizenship (both by descent and by marriage), the documents needed to apply, and the benefits and opportunities that Italian citizenship entails. This article will touch upon another advantage of applying for Italian citizenship, and it will also provide you with an overview of the most important dates you need to know if you are looking to apply for Italian citizenship by descent. 

Firstly, as previously mentioned, if you are applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (by descent), there are no generational limits. In other words, it does not matter if you apply through your most recent ancestor or through your most distant ancestor since there is no limit in the number of generations one can go back. Nevertheless, please bear in mind that you can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if the following conditions are met:

  • your ancestor who was born in Italy was alive at the time Italy was unified as a nation on March 17, 1861 or he/she was born after that date;
  • your ancestor was never naturalized (or he/she became a U.S. citizen after the birth of the child who was born in the U.S. and after June 14, 1912),
  • and none of your ancestors in your direct line of descent ever renounced their Italian citizenship.

One of the advantages of applying for Italian citizenship is that if you have minor children, they will automatically be recognized as Italian citizens when you apply, provided that you register their births through the A.I.R.E. (Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad) via the Italian Consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside.

Having said this, what are the most important dates you need to know if you are looking to apply for Italian citizenship by descent?

Undoubtedly, as mentioned above, a very important date is March 17, 1861, which marks the birth of the Italian state. Therefore, if you are claiming Italian citizenship, your ancestor (who was born in Italy) must have been alive on or after that date.

Another important date to keep in mind is June 13, 1912, which is when the Italian government issued the Law no. 555/1992 regulating the acquisition of Italian citizenship. The law establishes that if your ancestor became naturalized before that date you cannot claim Italian citizenship. This also applies if your ancestor was naturalized before that date and after his child’s birth.

With regards to women, an important date to consider is January 1, 1948, which is when Italy’s constitution came into effect. The constitution granted men and women equal rights and therefore, from that date women were able to pass their citizenship onto their children. Prior to that date, in fact, this was not allowed. Consequently, if there is a woman in you direct line of descent who gave birth to her child prior to January 1, 1948, you cannot apply for citizenship via a consulate or Italian municipality. However, you may be able to claim citizenship retroactively via a judicial proceeding by filing a 1948 case.

Furthermore, you might be able to claim citizenship via your female ancestor provided that she was born in Italy even if she became naturalized automatically and involuntarily through marriage. This brings us to the U.S. Cable Act of September 22, 1922. More specifically, the Cable Act changed the status of married immigrant women so that they would not acquire their husbands’ citizenship automatically. Prior to that date, in fact, if a woman married an Italian citizen who became naturalized in the U.S. she would automatically lose her Italian citizenship and acquire her husband’s citizenship. Today this is retroactively considered to be unlawful and discriminatory against women. This is why if your female ancestor - who was born in Italy - married a man who renounced his Italian citizenship prior to 1922 you can claim citizenship via a judicial proceeding and file a 1948 case.

Last but not least, before April 26, 1983 all foreign women who married an Italian citizen automatically became Italian. This means that if a foreign woman married an Italian man who had not renounced his Italian citizenship (or who had the right to Italian citizenship by descent) prior to that date, she would have acquired Italian citizenship automatically.

This rule could also apply to you if your father was born in Italy, for instance, but became naturalized before you were born. In this case you cannot apply for citizenship through your father but you might be able to apply via your mother who was born in the US, for instance, provided that your parents’ marriage took place prior to April 26, 1983 because your mother would have acquired Italian citizenship automatically.

Please note that if your parents divorced prior to that date, but after your birth, you can still claim Italian citizenship but your mother would have lost her citizenship right at the time of the divorce. On the other hand, if your parents divorced after that date your mother can apply for citizenship.

Finally, after August 16, 1992, which is when law 91/1992 was introduced, Italian citizens who were naturalized in a foreign country no longer lost their Italian citizenship and could transmit it to their children because after that date Italy allowed dual citizenship. On the other hand, before this law was passed, the voluntary acquisition of a foreign citizenship caused the loss of Italian citizenship.

Therefore, if you were born in Italy and became a citizen of the US after August 16, 1992 you are still an Italian citizen.

On the other hand, if you became a citizen of the US prior to that date you can reacquire Italian citizenship by establishing your residency in Italy. More information about the reacquisition of Italian citizenship can be found here.

 

We hope that this article has provided you with the necessary information regarding the most important dates you need to know if you are looking to apply for Italian citizenship. If you would like a free consultation please do not hesitate to contact Italian Citizenship Assistance at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or via telephone at +1- 323 – 892 – 0861.