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Italy Offers Citizenship

By William J. Girimonti III

Recently, the Republic of Italy made the option of dual-citizenship available to U.S. citizens of Italian descent. If you were born in the United States you may also be considered for Italian citizenship if any one of the situations listed below pertains to you:

  1. If your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and:
    • You never renounced your right to Italian citizenship

    For this, you must obtain the following documents:

    • Your father's birth certificate
    • Your parents' marriage certificate
    • Your father's death certificate, if applicable
    • Your birth certificate (certified copy)
    • Your father's naturalization certificate
      • or a statement from U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service stating that your father was never naturalized
      • Or his current Italian passport and alien registration card
    This serves to prove that if your father became a naturalized U.S. citizen, it occurred after your birth--if it occurred before your birth you are not entitled to Italian citizenship.
  2. If your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and:
    • You were born between January 1, 1948 and April 27, 1965
    • You never renounced your Italian citizenship
    You must obtain all of the documents listed above, but with regards to your mother.
  3. If your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father's birth and:
    • Neither you nor your father ever renounced your Italian citizenship

    For this you must obtain:

    • Your paternal grandfather's birth certificate from Italy
    • His marriage license
    • All of the documents listed for #1, except for your father's naturalization certificate, because in this case you will need your paternal grandfather's naturalization papers.
  4. If your maternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother's birth and:
    • You were born after January 1, 1948
    • Neither you nor your mother ever renounced your rights to Italian citizenship

    For this you must obtain:

    • Your maternal grandmother's birth certificate
    • Her marriage certificate
    • All the documents listed for #2, except for your mother's naturalization certificate, because in this case you will need your maternal grandmother's naturalization papers.
  5. If your parents became U.S. citizens when you were a minor, or if you were a minor on April 21, 1983:

    Then you will have to sign a statement with which you opt for the Italian citizenship.

  6. If you were a minor on April 21, 1983 and:
    • Your father or mother (depending on whom you are tracing your citizenship through) became a naturalized U.S. citizen after that date
    Then you have lost your right to Italian citizenship.

With each of the first four scenarios, it may seem difficult to gather all of the required documentation. On the contrary, it is quite easy. I can assist all those wishing to pursue dual citizenship by getting all of the required birth certificates, marriage records, and naturalization papers for them. I have done considerable amounts of correspondence with the same agencies in Italy which handle all of these records.

Once all of the documentation has been collected, it should be brought to the nearest Italian Consulate, they will forward all the certificates issued in the United States to Italy to be recorded there. After they have been notified that the documents have been accepted and recorded, a process which generally takes four to six months, you may apply for an Italian passport.

Now, this is where it may get a little tricky. When traveling to Europe from the U.S.A one should use their U.S. passport instead of the Italian passport. Why? Well, if you are using an Italian passport from within the United States, you had better have a U.S. visa. Normally, it would be impossible to gain one unless you had entered to United States from another country. In addition, you would need a resident alien identification card (Green Card). Without either of these, there could be some problems. While in Italy or any other European country, it is best to use the Italian passport because of the many advantages it can give the bearer.

Advantages to Dual Nationality
So, just what are these advantages? The benefits are too numerous to mention here, but here are a couple of the most interesting ones.
  1. As an Italian citizen, one becomes an EC citizen (European Community) and thus can work and live in any of the EC member nations.

    Currently the member nations are:

    • Belgium
    • Denmark
    • France
    • Germany
    • Great Britain
    • Greece
    • Luxembourg
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Netherlands
    • Portugal
    • Spain

  2. As an American citizen working abroad, one is tax-exempt up to $70,000 annually.

While there are some enticing advantages to pursuing dual nationality, there is at least one obvious drawback (depending on your point of view) that should be considered. If you are a male under the age of forty-five, once your documents are recorded, you will have military obligations to Italy, which can generally be fulfilled by completing the necessary paperwork. However, this also means that if you are under the age of twenty-six you may not permanently reside in Italy for reasons other than study unless you wish to serve two years in the Italian armed forces.

Despite the coordination between the United States and Italian governments, the current policy on dual citizenship from the U.S. government is that it recognizes someone only as a U.S. citizen and that any other allegiance is considered unimportant, as long as one does not pledge allegiance to a hostile nation, such as Iraq or Iran. Whereas, Italy would recognize both claims to citizenship as legal. If you are concerned about how any of the above procedures may affect your U.S. citizenship, relax, it has no effect at all.

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