There are many reasons why you might be interested in becoming an Italian citizen. And, we dare say the country's massive art and cultural heritage, great weather and dedication to long catchups in a charming local piazza are all fabulous perks. However, other tangible benefits include low-cost and high-quality universal health care, affordable university tuition fees, and affordable housing.
The tricky part is figuring out the often complicated process of acquiring Italian citizenship and the eligibility requirements. Thanks to the help of ICA - Italian Citizenship Assistance, here are three main paths to becoming an Italian citizen, considering laws and regulations and changes seen in 2022.
Italian Citizenship By Descent aka JURE SANGUINIS
This method for obtaining Italian jure sanguinis citizenship goes "by right of blood" meaning that if one of your family members in your direct line of descent was born in Italy or was an Italian citizen (this means that his/her birth certificate was registered in Italy) you can become a citizen too by right of birth. It has been part of the Italian legal system for hundreds of years, allowing for the transmission of citizenship from a parent to a child.
A child can become an Italian citizen at birth if the parent is an Italian citizen. That's how Italian citizenship is passed on from one generation to the next one, from the Italian ancestor born in Italy down to the applicant for Italian citizenship. The principle of Jure Sanguinis was included in the 1865 Civil Code of the former Kingdom of Italy and was later turned into law 555/1912 (which was then updated by law 91/1992). Based on the above law, all individuals of Italian descent who apply for Italian citizenship are actually applying for the recognition of their citizenship status at birth.
It's worth keeping in mind that there are no generational limits to being able to apply, but there are several eligibility requirements that you need to meet to qualify. The first step is to collect all certified copies of your family's vital records (birth, marriage, death, and divorce certificates) and your ancestor's naturalization records or proof that your ancestor was never naturalized. These documents will need to be apostilled and translated into Italian.
Finally, you will need to submit them to the Italian municipality to which you are applying or to the Italian consulate that covers the jurisdiction where you reside. They will go through your documents and let you know if you meet the requirements and when your citizenship application is approved, you can apply for an Italian passport. Voila!
***Please note that if there is a woman in your Italian lineage who gave birth to her child before January 1, 1948, you may not be able to apply for citizenship via an Italian consulate or municipality. Still, you might be able to file a 1948 case and apply via the court system instead. This is because, on January 1, 1948, Italy's constitution came into effect; this granted men and women equal rights and therefore, women were able to pass their citizenship on to their children.
A brief insight into the REFORM that will affect citizenship court cases in 2022
A reform was passed by the Italian government on November 26, 2021, and published in the official journal of record of the Italian government on December 9, 2021. The law aims to cut processing times for civil lawsuits, including 1948 cases. In particular, the new measures allow for all cases filed after June 2022 to be presented in the regional county seats in the region where the Italian ancestor was born. One of the reasons behind the reform is to increase the efficiency of the state's judicial system. This will be done by lightening the workload of the court of Rome, where all 1948 cases have been filed to the present, thereby reducing the overall processing time for lawsuits by 40%.
How to become Italian through marriage: JURE MATRIMONII
Under the current rules, if you are already residing in Italy, the non-Italian spouse can apply for Italian citizenship after two years from the date of marriage or civil union. If you live abroad, the non-Italian spouse can apply for Italian citizenship after three years from the date of marriage or civil union. In both cases, the number of years is reduced if the couple has minor children.
One stipulation is that the Italian spouse is recognized as an Italian citizen and that two or three years have passed since the wedding or civil union. These rules also apply to same-sex civil unions, which have now been recognized officially by law in Italy in 2016.
The non-Italian spouse must also pass a B1 language test, a requirement applicable to all requests submitted after December 4, 2018, and the applicant will also need to provide a criminal record certificate (certificato penale) from their country of origin and from other countries where they have been residents since the age of 14. For the complete list of the documents required to apply CLICK HERE.
One distinctive and attractive feature to note about getting Italian citizenship by marriage is the ability of the foreign spouse to apply for citizenship even though he or she has never lived in Italy and nor plans on relocating.
How to become Italian by residency/naturalization
For those wondering what to do if you aren't married to an Italian nor related to one, there is another option tied to how many years you have been a resident in Italy. If you are a non-EU citizen, you can apply for citizenship by residency only if you have legally resided in the country for ten years. This means that you are registered in the town's registry office ("anagrafe") without any breaks in the ten-year duration. On the other hand, if you are an EU citizen, you can apply for citizenship by residency if you have resided in Italy for only four years.
There are few cases when the residency period doesn't have to be so long, such as for foreigners whose parents or grandparents were born Italians. In this case, you would only need three years of legal residency. However, there is also a requirement to have certified knowledge of Italian (B1 level), and you need to provide evidence that your yearly income has never dropped under € 8.263,31 for the past three years.
If you are married and your spouse depends on you financially, your yearly income must not have been lower than €11.362,05, and an additional € 516,46 is the requirement for every dependent child. If you do not have an income or if your annual income does not meet the minimum required by law, you can claim that of someone else, provided that they are part of the same household. For the complete list of the documents needed to apply CLICK HERE.
A few other facts to keep in mind
· Both Italy and the U.S. allow for dual citizenship.
· If you are an Italian citizen you do not necessarily need to pay taxes in Italy; instead, taxes are paid by residing formally in Italy for more than 180 days, not by merely being an Italian citizen.
· All vital records will need to be authenticated with an apostille (certified seal). The cost varies depending on the state in the USA to which you apply (it is generally between $5 and $40).
· The fee to apply for citizenship through an Italian consulate is €300. On the other hand, if you apply to a municipality in Italy, you will only need to pay for a revenue stamp on your application.
· You do not need to live in Italy to maintain your Italian citizenship. Furthermore, unlike a passport which expires after ten years from the date of issuance, your citizenship status is not subject to any expiration date.
Are you interested in taking the next step to becoming an Italian citizen? ICA (Italian Citizenship Assistance) offers a free eligibility assessment for those interested, contact them at email@example.com or check out their website.