We The Italians | ICA: What are the costs associated to applying for citizenship by descent and citizenship by marriage

ICA: What are the costs associated to applying for citizenship by descent and citizenship by marriage

ICA: What are the costs associated to applying for citizenship by descent and citizenship by marriage

  • WTI Magazine #138 Apr 17, 2021
  • 252

Our last article explored the various paths to acquiring Italian citizenship, the eligibility requirements, and the documents needed to apply. This article instead will outline the phases involved in the process of applying for Italian citizenship by descent (jure sanguinis) and by marriage (jure matrimonii) respectively, and it will focus on the costs associated with these two application processes. 

Applying for Italian citizenship by descent 

As mentioned in our previous article, you can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if your ancestor who was born in Italy was never naturalized or if he/she was naturalized after the child’s birth, and if none of your ascendants in the applicant’s direct line of descent ever formally renounced their right to Italian citizenship. Please note that there are exceptions to these rules; if you would like to learn more about these feel free to read our previous article here.

If you are eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by descent you will need to collect you family’s vital records, authenticate them with apostilles and translate them into Italian. The specific documents needed to apply for citizenship by descent will be analysed in greater detail in another article we have lined up, however, as a general rule, you will need to retrieve certified, long form or book copies of your family’s birth, marriage, death and divorce certificates (if applicable) and your Italian ancestor’s naturalization records or proof that he/she was never naturalized. Vital records are held by the state’s Department of Health, county or town, whereas naturalization records are held by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), NARA (The National Archives and Records Administration) or the county in which naturalization occurred. The cost to retrieve a vital record is very much dependent on the specific Department of Health which is responsible for issuing it. On average, a certified copy of a birth certificate may cost between $10 and $25. The same applies to marriage certificates and death certificates. On the other hand, the cost to retrieve divorce records (divorce decree, certificate of no-appeal or case summary) may vary depending on the court in which the divorce was filed and on the number of pages. Please note that many offices allow applicants to order certificates online from their websites, and there are also online agencies such as VitalCheck, for example, which is an authorized resource for official, government-issued online vital records ordering. There are a number of advantages of ordering certificates online such as expedited shipping options and minimal service fees, therefore, in some cases, ordering certificate online might be cheaper compared to mailing requests to the specific Department of Health. Finally, the cost to retrieve naturalization records varies depending on whether they need to be retrieved from a county or from NARA ($25 per certified copy); certified copies of naturalization records from USCIS are $65.

Once you have collected all your vital records, you will need to check that there are no discrepancies on your documents that might negatively affect your application. As a general rule, the applicant’s names and the parents’ names on the applicant’s vital records must match. If there are amendments that need to be made you will need to contact the amendments division of the Department of Health or town to which you applied and enquire as to whether the amendment can be made. The cost to amend a birth, death and marriage certificate varies depending on the specific state and office to which you apply. Finally, there are also exceptional circumstances in which amendments may only be made through a court order which can range from approximately $600 to $1,000. You will then need to authenticate your vital records by requesting an apostille. Apostilles are issued by the Secretary of State, and the cost varies depending on the state to which you apply. The fee for each apostille in Ohio, for example, is $5, whereas in California it is $20 and $40 in Connecticut. Finally, although at Italian Citizenship Assistance we translate your documents as part of our service fee, there might be additional costs associated with translating your vital records if you apply to a consulate outside the U.S. or if you apply via a judicial proceeding in Italy because sworn translations will be required; translations can be sworn in court, and there is a fee of a few euros for each translation that needs to be certified.

Aside from the cost to retrieve, translate and authenticate the vital records and documents needed to apply for citizenship, on the day of your appointment at the consulate you will need to pay a fee in order for the consulate to process your application. Fees change every three months, but information regarding the costs can be found on the consulates’ websites. Each adult applicant will need to pay the fee, which is normally around $300. If your claim to citizenship is successful you will be granted Italian citizenship, you will be registered with the AIRE (Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad) and will be issued an Italian passport.

Applying for Italian citizenship by marriage

The procedure to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage is slightly different compared to applying for citizenship by descent. Firstly, as mentioned in our previous article, if the couple reside in Italy, the non-Italian spouse can apply for Italian citizenship after 2 years from the date of marriage or civil union. The number of years is halved if the couple have minor children. On the other hand, if the couple reside abroad, the non-Italian spouse can apply for Italian citizenship after 3 years from the date of marriage or civil union. The number of years is halved if the couple have minor children. These rules also apply to same-sex civil unions, which were recognized officially by law in Italy in 2016. It is worth pointing out that if the couple reside abroad, the Italian spouse must be registered with the AIRE and must have registered the couple’s marriage record through the local Italian consulate. The non-Italian spouse must also pass a B1 language test and provide a certificate of no criminal record issued by all of the states in which the non-Italian spouse has resided since the age of 14. Please note that the language requirement only applies to individuals applying for citizenship by marriage.

As for the cost related to applying, you will need to retrieve a certified copy of your birth and marriage certificates. In this respect, applying for citizenship by marriage is less expensive than applying for citizenship by descent as fewer vital records need to be retrieved, authenticated and translated. However, unlike applying for citizenship by descent you will need to apply for a criminal records check to the FBI and the US states (and foreign countries, if applicable) where you have resided since the age of 14. The cost to apply for a criminal records check ranges from $20 to $30 approximately but it excludes the cost of a fingerprint card which ranges from $10 to $50 depending on the state to which you apply. The criminal records need to be legalized and translated into Italian. The costs to request an apostille is the same as the one for a vital record.  You will also need to pass a B1 language test (the cost to take the exam is roughly €100). Finally, the cost to process an application for citizenship by marriage is €250,  which is paid when all of the necessary documents have been uploaded on the Ministry of the Interior’s online portal. Once the submitted paperwork has been assessed, if you reside abroad, the Italian consulate where your Italian spouse is registered with the AIRE will contact you in order to ask you to submit original copies of the documents. On the other hand, if you reside in Italy, the original documents will need to be submitted at the local prefecture (Prefettura). If you are granted Italian citizenship a ceremony will be scheduled within six months from when citizenship was granted, and you will then be able to apply for an Italian passport.

If you are considering applying for Italian citizenship and you need information or help with determining whether you are eligible, please do not hesitate to contact ICA at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or via telephone at 1-323-892-0861. If you need further details please visit italiancitizenshipassistance.com. We are pleased to offer a 5% discount valid until May 31 2021 to all We the Italians readers, who can redeem it by quoting the code ICAWTI2021